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Old May 8, 10, 1:24 am   #1
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: The city of sex and drugs and KLM
Programs: KLM FB, BA EC, Miles&Mafia, Delta SM, Mile High Club
Posts: 342
Infrequent Flyers: the best loyalty programs for the disloyal

Note: program rules change, good programs turn bad, and vice versa. The list below is outdated. Read beyond the opening post for updates or check miles.site666.info

My local airline is KLM (SkyTeam), so I earn truckloads of Flying Blue miles. I fly pretty often with Star Alliance but rarely with OneWorld, mainly because they offer less direct flights from AMS. But when I do fly *A or OW airlines I collect their miles anyway, and I expect to use them eventually. Of course, it may take quite a while before I burn up my miles from my less frequented FFP. For obvious reasons I don't want those dormant miles to expire before I've collected enough to do anything useful with them. That's not as easy as it used to be because mileage expiration rules are getting tighter, especially with the multi-airline Miles & More program which is spreading like the plague.

There must be more FlyerTalkers who collect miles from airlines and alliances that they fly infrequently.

So let's build a list of the best programs for the disloyal!


To be considered "friendly for the disloyal," a program must have properties like:

> Miles should never expire.

> If miles are subject to expiration, any type of account activity should reset the clock (so a program like Lufthansa's Miles and More is not an option, since their miles expire 3 years after earning regardless of account activity).

> It should be easy to earn miles for non-flying activity (not credit cards or hotel stays, since most people use those for their primary FFP), and non-flying account activity or miles redemption should keep your miles from expiring.

> If miles can be earned by online shopping, those stores should ship internationally at reasonable shipping rates (since the best FFP for disloyal members may be from a foreign airline)

Other things to keep in mind:

- Some airlines (especially those in Europe) charge a ridicilously high fuel surcharge on "free" tickets.

- Changing or cancelling an award ticket can be anything from free to horribly expensive to impossible.


So far, my list of friendly FFPs for the disloyal is:


SkyTeam

CSA Czech Airlines
+ Miles never expire if you earn miles once every 24 months.
- Apart from hotels and car rentals there are very few ways to earn miles for non-flying activity outside the Czech Republic.
- Buying an upgrade or award ticket does NOT extend the deadline.

Delta
+ Miles never expire if you have any account activity once every 24 months.
+ Miles for shopping (Barnes & Noble and other online stores) keep your miles alive for another two years.
- One way award tickets for less miles (but usually not half the miles) on some flights, but not all. Some one way tickets cost more miles than a round trip!
- Availability of standard reward flights sucks, available reward flights often cost an obscene amount of miles.
- International Originating Surcharge for trips starting outside the USA.

KLM, Air France
+ One way award tickets for half the miles.
- Miles never expire if you buy a qualifying SkyTeam airline ticket once every 20 months, other account activity does NOT extend the deadline. Even buying an upgrade or award ticket does NOT extend the deadline!
- You can earn miles for surveys (e-Rewards*), but this does NOT extend the deadline.


OneWorld

American Airlines
+ Miles never expire if you have any account activity once every 18 months.
+ Miles for surveys (e-Rewards*) keep your miles alive for another two years.
+ One way award tickets for half the miles.

British Airways
+ Miles never expire if you have any account activity once every 36 months.
+ Miles for shopping (e.g. play.com*) keep your miles alive for another three years.
+ One way award tickets for half the miles.
+ Cheap award tickets for intra-europe flights.

Qantas
+ Miles never expire if you have any account activity once every 18 months.
- Apart from hotels and car rentals there are very few ways to earn miles for non-flying activity outside Australia.


Star Alliance

United
+ Miles never expire if you have any account activity once every 18 months.
+ Miles for shopping (Barnes & Noble and other online stores) keep your miles alive for another 18 months.
- One way award tickets only on United flights, not on other Star Alliance flights.

US Airways
+ Miles never expire if you have any account activity once every 18 months.
+ Miles for clicks (e-Miles*), surveys (e-Rewards*), and shopping (Barnes & Noble and other online stores) keep your miles alive for another 18 months.
- No one way award tickets (they're available, but they cost the same as round trips).
- "Award processing fee" charged for all award tickets.


unallied

Alaska Airlines
+ Miles never expire if you have any account activity once every 24 months.
+ A bit of a SkyTeam/OneWorld hybrid: earn and redeem miles with Alaska Airlines, Air France, Air Pacific, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Era Alaska, Horizon, Kenmore, KLM, Korean, LAN, Mokulele Airlines, PenAir, Qantas.
+ Miles for surveys (e-Rewards*) and shopping (Barnes & Noble and other online stores) keep your miles alive for another two years.
+ One way award tickets for half the miles.

Frontier
+ Miles never expire if you have any account activity once every 24 months.
+ Miles for clicks (eMiles*) and surveys (e-Rewards*) keep your miles alive for another two years.
+ One way award tickets for half the miles.
- Earning miles and buying award tickets is limited to Frontier flights. Frontier only serves a limited number of destinations in the USA, a handful of cities in Mexico, and San José in Costa Rica, which makes the program useless for most of the world.


*) According to the small print, e-Miles is only open for USA residents. But in real life anyone from anywhere can join, earn points, and trade 'em in for miles. e-Rewards is open for residents of many different countries (by invitation only, but signing up for a frequent flyer program is usually enough to get an invitation).

Any other good FFPs for the disloyal?



Bad programs (any program where your miles expire regardless of account activity is a bad program):

Aeroflot, Alitalia (SkyTeam)

Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, TAP, ANA, Thai, Turkish Airlines, South African Airways, Singapore Airlines, Asiana (Star Alliance)
- Miles expire after 3 years, account activity does NOT extend the deadline. You can keep your M&M miles at Lufthansa alive by maintaining elite status or by using a Lufthansa credit card (but you'll have to use it at least once a month).

Air Canada (Star Alliance)
- Miles expire after 7 years. Not that bad, but account activity does NOT extend the deadline. What's worse is this part of the small print: "All mileage in an account expires if the Aeroplan member has not accumulated or redeemed Aeroplan Miles for a period of 12 consecutive months."

SAS (Star Alliance)
- Miles expire after 4 to 5 years (depending on when you earned them), account activity does NOT extend the deadline.

Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines (OneWorld)
- Miles expire after 3 years, account activity does NOT extend the deadline.

Air India, El Al, Emirates (unallied)
- Miles expire after 3 years, account activity does NOT extend the deadline.
+ Air India will become a member of Star Alliance.
- El Al charges an entry fee for joining their frequent flyer program.

AirTran (unallied)
- Miles expire after one year (two years if you maintain elite status or use an AirTran credit card), account activity does NOT extend the deadline.

Icelandair (unallied)
- Miles expire after 4 years, account activity does NOT extend the deadline.



I threw together a more readable version of this list with an easy to remember URL: miles.site666.info
The most recent info is there if you don't want to puzzle all the changes together from this thread.
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my list of frequent flyer programs for the disloyal: miles.site666.info

Last edited by Diabo; May 29, 13 at 10:30 pm. Reason: update
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Old May 8, 10, 8:09 am   #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Very nice summary!

Delta seems to work best for my kids and friends/family that don't fly much, as I'm successful in adding points to their accounts every couple months or so via a survey, promo, or similar that enables them to accumulate free or cheap miles without actually flying. I have a young daughter (under two) who already has enough miles for a free ticket, despite having never purchased one nor having spent a penny (I found some loopholes in various bonus promos and stacked 'em up for her and others).

Slightly OT, but if you look at hotel rewards programs, Priority Club fits the bill well. I've earned thousands of points annually for several friends/family accounts without stays, and especially if you redeem for a 5K Pointsavers night sometimes, it's worthwhile. Marriott and SPG, on the other hand, very rarely offer surveys or promos that will allow points to be deposited without requiring any type of spending.
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Old May 8, 10, 8:49 am   #3
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Delta is good for earning via their multi-partner reward promos and the occasional car rental, but as far as identifying it as "Skyteam", if it were me I would utilize Alaska for that purpose.

Remember: Friends don't let friends earn DL miles for flights. (infrequent flyers that is, FFs will have other advantages including elite status)

Credit your occasional Skyteam flight to AS or a dining for miles meal or Live Search redemption to keep your miles alive.

Redeem for Skyteam flights, or BA flights, or AA flights, or Qantas, or Cathay, or Air Pacific, etc. Hence, your miles you can utilize for skyteam flights are not limited to just skyteam and not limited to Delta's horrible booking engine and redemption rates.

For *A, US is a good option. You can get 25-35k for the Barclay's CC (they have a personal and biz and may be lightly churnable). You can earn via Live Search and Dining for miles as well. They seem to have a yearly multi-partner promo too. And they have a pretty good *A redemption chart.

As far as hotels go I would recommend SPG, as long as you have the SPG Amex CC. An infrequent flyer should be accumulating SPG points via regular CC spend (especially with the US Mint coin deal), then the points will be there for you when you do decide to travel and need a decent hotel room and/or need to xfer some SPG points to your 1:1 SPG/Airline mile program to get that flight you need.
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Old May 8, 10, 9:54 am   #4
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
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+1 for AS and SPG
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Old May 8, 10, 8:25 pm   #5
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheapskate Travels View Post

As far as hotels go I would recommend SPG, as long as you have the SPG Amex CC. An infrequent flyer should be accumulating SPG points via regular CC spend (especially with the US Mint coin deal), then the points will be there for you when you do decide to travel and need a decent hotel room and/or need to xfer some SPG points to your 1:1 SPG/Airline mile program to get that flight you need.
Or preferably, your 1:1.25/Airline mile program (when you transfer in blocks of 20k, which should pretty much be all the time.)
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Old May 9, 10, 10:58 am   #6
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
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erewards is great to keep accounts of infrequent travelers active. You can earn survey dollars quite easily and then convert them into a number of different programs. I think miles would be delta, us air, alaska, continental and flying blue. Hotels are limited to hilton best I recall.

You can earn $100 survey dollars with minimal effort over the course of a year and then break up redemption into $25 increments to keep four of your programs alive at no cost to you.
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Old May 10, 10, 8:27 pm   #7
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Frontier has had a pretty good promgram for my disloyalty. I have a grand total of three flights on them, one in 2006, one in 2008 and one in 2009 and I've never had to worry about my stash of > 3,000 miles expiring.
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Old Jun 5, 10, 5:51 pm   #8
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: The city of sex and drugs and KLM
Programs: KLM FB, BA EC, Miles&Mafia, Delta SM, Mile High Club
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I updated the list in the opening post. Did I miss any programs that should be included?
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Old Jun 6, 10, 7:29 pm   #9
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diabo View Post
I updated the list in the opening post. Did I miss any programs that should be included?
Air Canada (Aeroplan) should be included on the bad list. Miles expire after 7 years no matter what the account activity.
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Old Oct 18, 10, 3:40 pm   #10
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: The city of sex and drugs and KLM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Great White North View Post
Air Canada (Aeroplan) should be included on the bad list. Miles expire after 7 years no matter what the account activity.
And there's more bad stuff in the small print of Aeroplan:

"All mileage in an account expires if the Aeroplan member has not accumulated or redeemed Aeroplan Miles for a period of 12 consecutive months."
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Old Oct 18, 10, 6:37 pm   #11
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Interesting topic!

I'd add one positive and one negative for bmi:

+ Awards available for half the normal miles plus not too much cash. Very good for someone who doesn't accumulate a lot of miles.

- Future of program past mid-2011 in doubt given Lufthansa ownership. Best guess is merging into Miles & More, after which that program's T&C will apply.
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Old Oct 19, 10, 1:27 am   #12
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A couple more points.

One 'bad' program can be a good program! Miles and More (LH, LX, OS etc): miles have unlimited life with use of a LH-branded credit card, available in most markets. http://www.miles-and-more.com/online...d=2568578&l=en

Note that Miles and More is the program for LH and many more. LH, LX and OS no longer have separate programs.

The anti-European discrimination of DL has been mentioned (higher cost of award travel). AA have no such discrimination and IME has far better award availability.

Most European plans require a much higher co-payment, known as fees/taxes/fuel surcharge/etc, on award travel than most US programs. Guilty are:
- BA Executive Club;
- BD Diamond Club;
- AF/KL Flying Blue;
- Miles and More (LH/LX/OS/LO/++);
- probably more.
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Old Oct 19, 10, 6:08 am   #13
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: BOS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diabo View Post



SkyTeam

Delta
+ Miles never expire if you have any account activity once every 24 months.
+ Miles for clicks (eMiles*), surveys (e-Rewards*), games (bing*), and shopping (Barnes & Noble and other online stores) keep your miles alive for another two years.
- One way award tickets for half the miles only on Delta flights, not for other SkyTeam airlines.
- Availability of standard reward flights sucks, available reward flights often cost an obscene amount of miles.
- International Originating Surcharge for trips starting outside the USA.
e
I may be wrong, but I don't think this is correct -- my understanding is that on Delta one way rewards always cost as much as roundtrips. Even more of a negative.
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Old Oct 19, 10, 7:23 am   #14
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: The city of sex and drugs and KLM
Programs: KLM FB, BA EC, Miles&Mafia, Delta SM, Mile High Club
Posts: 342
Tried a couple of test bookings on Delta. It's like a lottery! Some o/w tickets cost less miles than a rt (found a 25k o/w vs. 37,5k rt intra europe, and a 60k o/w vs. 75k rt transatlantic). But on plenty of flights it didn't make any difference.

I even found a JFK-ATL offer where a o/w costs more miles than a rt award ticket (50k o/w vs. 37.5k rt). Would Delta snatch the extra miles from your account if you book a rt and don't show up for the return flight?

Last edited by Diabo; Apr 20, 11 at 11:12 am.
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Old Oct 19, 10, 8:43 pm   #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Nashville, TN - BNA
Programs: Amex PLAT, Hilton DIA, SPG Gold, Marriott Silver, WN RR, TSA Disparager Silver
Posts: 1,774
Here's a non-airline program for the disloyal: Amex. MR transfers 1:1 to F9, DL, CO, AA (through BA), etc. You also get doubled points for airline tickets with Premier Rewards Gold.

I live @ BNA, and 60% of the flights out of here are on WN. I usually have plenty of WN freebies but virtually no shot at status on any of the legacies.

Transferring around MR at least gets me a free ticket once in a while, even if I'm SOL - pretty much - for international upgrades. (Unless I buy a full-fare economy ticket and upgrade with miles.) One downside: they no longer transfer - at all - to WN, although Starpoints do as of a month or two ago.
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