200-million Americans in this country belong to frequent flyer programs. 

Between them, they have some 20-trillion frequent flier miles. 

Sad, then, that they have a heck of a time getting anywhere.

"Yeah, oh yeah, I've tried to plan holiday getaways in time to see my family, and they were blacked out." complains one flyer. 

"It takes twice as many points or miles now as it ever did." adds another.  A third calls it a pain in the butt.

Tom Brozowski is a South Bay medical supply rep. 

He and his girlfriend got so fed up trying to plan a tropical vacation with air miles, they gave up and went to Montana instead.

"Correct, correct.. Yes," says Tom. "I mean try to get into somewhere like Miami or JFK. Chances of getting the flights that actually work for your time are probably pretty limited."
   
Travel agent, Denise DeGroat says "You can't go in saying o-k, I want to go Sept 10th and come back on the 15th, Los Angeles to Chicago. Good luck!"

Frequent flyer programs were born some 27-years ago.  Back then, flying was the only way you earned miles.  When you earned enough you got a free ticket.

No problem.   But the airlines saw a cash cow, and began selling the miles to credit card issuers, and car rental companies, and hotel chains.. and slowly but surely flooded the market.

Now, some 60% of all air miles come from sources other than air travel, which has led to too many miles chasing too few seats. 

Some travelers are so frustrated, they're foregoing miles altogether.

"So what do you do?" I asked one. "Just go ahead and buy the ticket if you can't use the miles?"

"Sure," he said, "absolutely!"

"Have you gotten fed up.. And you just want to buy the ticket with your money?" I asked another.

 "Absolutely.  It's easier that way."