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Old Jun 20, 13, 8:16 am   #1
 
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Long term USA airline FF elite strategy

Huge changes have been announced and there are more to come as the industry continues to consolidate

Since the tag for MB states "Discussion of the latest frequent flyer & hotel program buzz...only" why not discuss various airlines, options & goals, and if it makes sense to pursue elite status with that airline, along with alternatives

Star Alliance - United

There are two major changes affecting UA in general:

The new fee structure



which I believe may be a prelude to further devaluing silver & gold elites as seen by the Premier Qualifying Dollar requirement:



There are still a lot of questions about these changes, but this is what we know

1) You can bypass the spend requirement by changing your MP address to an international address

OR

2) Spend $25k on UA CCs (ToS state they will combine personal & BIZ UA cards into one)

But, what this shows, is a clear direction to nickle & dime. I fully expect some sort of devaluation of miles soon.

This begs the question: I like Star Alliance but don't necessarily care for UA & it's new policies, what should I do?

If you are hunting for *G, then A3 seems like a good alternative, although I need to look at RDM accrual & redemption to see if it makes sense to get status and keep the miles there or get status and shift to UA

for all intents & purposes, at least for me, there is no real difference between the last 2 tiers of UA status and the PQDs make it non-desirable. I am hitting Prem Plat for under $2000 for 2014

One World - AA

If anything, history will show that things will start off not too well then progress horribly.

UA has turned a lot of people off domestically, so this begs a huge question: Is it worth pursuing AA elite status with this big unknown of what is to come, especially since we know how crappy US is?

Sky Team - Delta

Basically the people UA models after, but with horrible redemption rates, so bad we refer to it as Sky pesos.

So, if you want domestic elite, it seems like the big 3 are trying to tell you to go somewhere else.

The big issue is for people who want international options. Should we credit to another program like A3? What would be the drawbacks?

Should we stay away from OneWorld until we know more about the AA/US union?
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Old Jun 20, 13, 8:21 am   #2
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The longterm future?

http://www.kayak.com if you are doing this on your own dime.

If it's OPM, though, enjoy, I'm sure the airlines will love you as long as you throw bags of cash their direction and are heedless of the cost.
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Old Jun 20, 13, 11:47 am   #3
 
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Yeah I migrated from DL to UA last year, only to deal with this. First was 50% bonus on miles starting last year.

So what are the options for those who are spending their own money to achieve and maintain status, redeem awards?

Look at another domestic carrier, perhaps AS?

Or look at foreign carriers, as suggested here?:

http://thepointsguy.com/2013/05/trav...fler-programs/
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Old Jun 20, 13, 1:50 pm   #4
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Originally Posted by wco81 View Post
Or look at foreign carriers, as suggested here?:

http://thepointsguy.com/2013/05/trav...fler-programs/
Many (though not all) foreign carriers have unextendable expirations (ie, all your miles earned on day X expire within N years, with no way to avoid that). So those foreign carriers are only going to work for you if you burn fairly quickly after earning.

Furthermore, certain elite benefits like domestic upgrades don't transfer to other airlines in the alliance. So you give up some of the basic elite benefits by having status in another airline in the alliance than the one you're actually flying.

OTOH: Many elite benefits are duplicated by the benefits associated with traveling in a higher-than-coach cabin. So if you book travel in higher cabins (including on awards), then you may not need the elite status as much.

And you also have to weigh the cost of duplicating some of those status benefits yourself. While elite status may get you this or that free, for example, this or that may be purchasable on a per-flight basis for some cost. Depending on how many flights you need this or that on, as the cost of attaining elite status goes up, the reasonableness of paying for this or that on a per-flight basis may become more reasonable, comparatively. (For example, if I can buy up to a "more room" seat on airline X for $NN at booking time, and I only fly airline X a few times a year, it's probably less costly to do that than to pursue the elite status that would give me that "free" at booking time. Of course, if I can only buy up at T-24, but elite status would let me get the same "mroe room" seat free at booking time, that changes the equation, assuming I'm someone who books my flights well in advance.)
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Old Jun 20, 13, 3:00 pm   #5
 
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I think this will boil down to do you want the status benefits on United which are above and beyond the *A status benefits.

As sdsearch says, the big downfall is no early guaranteed E+ or elite benefits on United if you are star silver on another airline. No early comp upgrades on *g through another airline and sometimes you gotta show your card to make them force your free check-in bags. No easy regional or global upgrades etc. So if you are flying United every week and other star alliance partners once or twice a year, it will depend on whether you want to give up your benefits on United.

United also allows 1-way and no-fuel-surcharge redemptions which most *A partners don't.

Basically, this was an easy way out for United to tighten their frequent flyer program whil e keeping the big spenders happy and weaning out the mileage runners and deal-conscious people.
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Old Jun 20, 13, 8:24 pm   #6
 
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I don't do mileage runs per se but I've been able to fly 50k qualifying miles by often finding TATL fares for around $800, sometimes less, during the offseason.

Those days seem to be gone though, as flying even in January or February, it's hard to get under $1000 these days.

I got Gold status on UA this year by buying 30k RDMs and PQMs early this year and doing 2 instead of 4 TATL flights.

We'll see if the accelerator purchases count as PQDs next year ...
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Old Jun 21, 13, 8:14 am   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sahiljain22 View Post
I think this will boil down to do you want the status benefits on United which are above and beyond the *A status benefits.

As sdsearch says, the big downfall is no early guaranteed E+ or elite benefits on United if you are star silver on another airline. No early comp upgrades on *g through another airline and sometimes you gotta show your card to make them force your free check-in bags. No easy regional or global upgrades etc. So if you are flying United every week and other star alliance partners once or twice a year, it will depend on whether you want to give up your benefits on United.

United also allows 1-way and no-fuel-surcharge redemptions which most *A partners don't.

Basically, this was an easy way out for United to tighten their frequent flyer program whil e keeping the big spenders happy and weaning out the mileage runners and deal-conscious people.
solid points, but let's break it down

Elite status gives you 2 (sometimes 3) free bags and sometime heavier bags for free. This, I believe, is an Alliance benefit not specific to an airline, although individual airline rules may apply.

So if I get *G with A3, I won't lose that bennie. If I get an airline CC, I already have priority boarding and 1 bag free, no harm no foul.

The one way redemption and no-fuel-surcharge is HUGE IMHO
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Old Jun 21, 13, 12:02 pm   #8
 
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What is *G and A3?

Too many acronyms here.

I guess the only other domestic program to consider is AS? Better to wait to see how AA and US merger changes AAdvantage.

But most of the tickets I buy are international. Once in awhile, I will fly from SFO to NY.

Of course, on UA TATL flights, there are often domestic segments, like SFO-EWR or SFO-IAD and I get on E Plus as a Premier Gold.

But if I were to achieve comparable status on LH, wouldn't I get on their E-Plus counterpart? Or if I went to KLM/AF FB?

Do the foreign programs have status matching?

Of course the earning opportunities outside of flying may be more limited, though I don't have the MP Visa, only the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Not even sure Chase Sapphire points can be transferred to foreign carriers.

I'm sure I can meet the PDQ requirements but I can see them raising the PDQ thresholds every year, while keeping the PQMs the same.
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Old Jun 21, 13, 12:28 pm   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wco81 View Post
What is *G and A3?
*G means Star Alliance Gold status . See here: http://www.staralliance.com/en/benef...silver-status/

A3 is the IATA code for Aegean Airlines which has relatively low requirements to achieve Star Gold status. Discussion here:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/aegea...les-bonus-694/
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Old Jun 22, 13, 5:52 am   #10
 
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Originally Posted by wco81 View Post
What is *G and A3?

Too many acronyms here.
Says a person with 2587 posts in Flyertalk and then continues the post with acronyms of his own. Well, mia already answered so no further comment.
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Old Jun 22, 13, 9:35 am   #11
 
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Originally Posted by wco81 View Post
Not even sure Chase Sapphire points can be transferred to foreign carriers.
Depends whether you consider BA and KE foreign carriers.
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Old Jun 24, 13, 12:29 pm   #12
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My strategy has become A3 (flying UA, AC, and US metal) with AA as my backup.

...Always with a side check to Kayak.com to see what, if anything, I'm paying to avoid Skyteam. I'm definitely willing to pay something out of my own pocket for the basic level of semi-humane (stress semi-) service that low-elite brings.

But twice already this year, DL has been $500-800 cheaper than any other airline for a four-person itinerary, so we've taken the risk and flown them. (Thankfully, uneventfully.)
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Old Jun 24, 13, 2:57 pm   #13
 
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
My strategy has become A3 (flying UA, AC, and US metal) with AA as my backup.

...Always with a side check to Kayak.com to see what, if anything, I'm paying to avoid Skyteam. I'm definitely willing to pay something out of my own pocket for the basic level of semi-humane (stress semi-) service that low-elite brings.

But twice already this year, DL has been $500-800 cheaper than any other airline for a four-person itinerary, so we've taken the risk and flown them. (Thankfully, uneventfully.)
So you gain status on Agean by flying UA, AC and US, crediting those flights to your Agean FF account rather than UA, AC or US accounts?
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Old Jun 24, 13, 3:16 pm   #14
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So you gain status on Agean by flying UA, AC and US, crediting those flights to your Agean FF account rather than UA, AC or US accounts?
Yes. As a partner elite when I continue flying UA, US, AC, etc. I get all of the "generic" elite benefits. Priority access, a decent boarding group, at least one checked bag, plus lounge access at Gold.

Of course the "native" elites get the upgrades. I'll never see those, but if I was flying enough to be a high elite I wouldn't choose the Aegean route to begin with.
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Old Jun 24, 13, 3:52 pm   #15
 
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Is the *A award inventory available to A3 comparable to the what the MP elite would see?
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