The “Up in the Air” Deleted Scene That Shows Us Just How Much Has Changed in Four Years

Here’s a deleted scene from the film Up in the Air where George Clooney’s character is defending his refusal to ever spend any of his miles.

Gosh, how dated and quaint that seems. Looking back on it, and I’ve been giving the same advice for at least the past dozen years — to earn and redeem in the same period, not to save miles for some future time, that acrrued miles will never be worth more in the future than they are today so earn, burn, and earn some more — but never before has that advice seemed more sound and more timely.

The passage of the last four years, but more specifically the past 15 months in particular, shows that.

Since Ryan Bingham wanted to earn 10 million miles (in the book, which bears no relation to the film, he was on a quest for 1 million miles.. and the book was far darker), we’ve seen:

.. to name just a few.

The idea of accumulating and holding large quantities of miles has pretty much been eviscerated (though it hadn’t made sense even before that).

In tough times they print miles, and then chickens come home to roost in their award chart when those times pass. And loyalty programs are less generous in good economic times independently anyway.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t tremendous outsized value in miles, it just emphasizes the gulf between the release of Up in the Air and today.

Meanwhile here’s a deleted scene from the film showing Ryan Bingham’s grounded life in Omaha buying a condo, grocery shopping, at the drug store, cleaning his place… and in a priceless moment, buying a car — from Hertz.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary–this is the story of my life! relatives calling me to ask me book them $1200 tickets using MY miles..I WONT DO IT! I WONT! Take Amtrak!!

  2. And to think that the single most useful use of miles *would* be to earn them when you’re working, and spend them when you’re retired.

    But without any regulation, by the time you’re retired a domestic roundtrip will require 1 million miles plus a $200 (in today’s dollars) co-pay for taxes and “carrier-imposed surcharges”, plus a ticketing fee, baggage fees, food, check-in fee, and whatever other fee they invent.

  3. @Hillrider – I’m hoping to retire in less than a year and make that “most useful use” work. Hopefully I can make it through the next year without too much of a devaluation hit. I’ve been hoarding a good stash and air and hotel miles/points for the past couple of years.

    Of course I can also lock some in with bookings ahead of time.

  4. @Ozaer N Don’t we all have relatives like that? “But they are free!” they scream. I would rather use them for 1st class on Lufthansa.

  5. You say this all the time and always ignore all of the ways that miles are valuable other than for getting the most number of tickets possible. As examples, I extract a lot of value from knowing that with miles in the bank I can go anywhere I want, anytime I want…even if I don’t actually do it. Having miles saved so you know you won’t go broke getting to a funeral on short notice is valuable as well.

  6. I’ve got the miles to take my wife anywhere. I just don’t have the money to do anything once I get off of the plane. One of the many hazards of kids in college…. someday we’ll go somewhere, someday….

  7. I’m saving the miles so I can take my wife and the twins (when they are old enuff not to annoy the other first/biz class passengers) to Malaysia for some snorkeling and laksa!

  8. My favorite movie! I can’t believe I’d never seen that deleted scene. As someone who just reluctantly spent a ton of AA miles on domestic tickets for family members to attend a wedding, I completely understand where Ryan is coming from.
    The Omaha scenes: I’m pretty sure that if they had been left in the film I would have been bawling my eyes out in the movie theater at the end rather just sitting there stunned. Great movie!

  9. …And how long has it been since you reported the best advice you ever received was just accumulate BIS miles 😉

  10. We just had a major deval so I think the miles will be solid for another 3 years or so other than perhaps a 10-20K bumps. I have 1.3m miles banked. We already have a big trip booked this year to Ethiopia and Dubai and not enough vacation to do another one. And it is not clear that the mileage accruing that I have done in the past will continue in the future. I use miles pretty much exclusively for longhaul int’l biz and F. So why not bank for a few years and get 3-4 trips even if there is another deval?

  11. We are retired–I’m 53, my husband, 67. Now we have more time to travel , but less money. So we’ve had to become more creative in earning points. Basically we are earning enough to do one J or F “free” trip for two each year–these are extended trips for 3 or 4 weeks to places like Africa or Asia. We have enough points left over to either do a miles and cash 2nd J trip, or we opt to fly verrrrryyyyy long-haul coach on circuitous routes, with 23 hour layover (hotel/sleep) to earn additional miles for future trips. All of this takes a fair amount of work and organization–which is why most people say “I can’t be bothered.” Which is great, as it leaves more award availability for us.

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