Even as airlines relentlessly devalue their points (United alone has gone from 2.4 cents/mile to 1.4 in the last five years), there is one thing to try. As all airlines are trying to recruit companies, if you have a small business (or a large one), you should sign up for their corporate programs:
- United Perks Plus. These points are worth half the regular Mileage Plus points. You need to spend at least $25K per year with United (so this works for businesses that are traveling a bunch). But in the first year, you can generate some points. And as of March 2017, they allow you to convert two Perks Plus Points into a single Mileage Plus mile. The good news is that administration is easy, just get a list of frequent flyer miles for you employees and away you go. The best redemption is actually 60K Perks Plus points for a United Club membership. So that is a 0.8 cent redemption and isn’t bad.
- Alaska Airlines Easybiz. This takes more energy to manage, you basically set up an account and then when you book you need to go to https://easybiz.alaskaair.com. The trick here is that you have to do all your bookings through this portal site for the miles to count.
American and Delta have similar programs but I haven’t had a chance to try them yet.