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Winning moves in the air miles awards game (Coach Tip No. 1: Don't buy upgrades).

Winning moves in the air miles awards game (Coach Tip No. 1: Don't buy upgrades).

After traveling for work for more than 35 years (I retired a few years ago), I'd accumulated many miles on United. I've used most of them, but I have just enough for a round trip to South Carolina to visit my family during the holidays. When is the best time to begin the booking process? Also, does it make sense to buy miles for upgrades?

Jim Mitchell

Long Beach

Answer: Nabbing a frequent-flier ticket requires the same leap of faith that buying any airline ticket does, although an "error" costs less.

Error, in this case, doesn't mean you booked a ticket to Columbia, Mo., when you really meant to book Columbia, S.C. It means you've paid...

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