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Old Feb 24, 09, 8:35 am   #1
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
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Award Saver vs. Standard Award

Whats the difference between the two?

Also i am newbie when it comes to frequent flyer miles. I just recently started flying alot for work and have always flown with NWA and have just recently saved up enough miles with a free flight with them and wanted to try United out and almost have a free flight saved up with them as well. So now its decision time.... Stay with United (Star Alliance) or with NWA (Sky Team). I really dont have any preference, i like both airlines, is there any advantages from one to the other? I am based out of Syracuse, New York.

Also the only reason i was looking at leaning toward NWA was because Uniteds website for frequent flyer miles seems very complicated to use and understand but maybe that will come with time.

Anyway thoughts please?
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Old Feb 24, 09, 8:44 am   #2
 
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Welcome to FT!

You've really got two questions here, saver vs. standard and UA vs. NWA.

I can't speak to the latter. About the former, saver awards are capacity controlled -- you can't get seats on all flights at all times. They are, however, the only way to get an award on non-UA airlines. Standard awards cost twice (or more) the number of miles, but they are good basically on any UA flight as long as there is space. You can't get awards on UA's partner airlines, though, using standard awards. There are other differences as well, but this is the basic distinction.
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Old Feb 24, 09, 9:28 am   #3
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There are also no change or cancel fees with standard awards.
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Old Feb 24, 09, 9:29 am   #4
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I could be wrong here, but it sounds like you have saved up 25,000 miles. That is enough for a free domestic reward at the saver level when it is available. When it is not available, you will be pushed into the standard reward level, which requires twice as many miles.


Quote:
Originally Posted by covsting76 View Post
. . . have always flown with NWA and have just recently saved up enough miles with a free flight with them and wanted to try United out and almost have a free flight saved up with them as well.

Anyway thoughts please?
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Old Feb 24, 09, 9:38 am   #5
 
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I used to fly out of SYR weekly a couple years ago.

I mainly flew UA, but flights SYR-IAD were always mechanical
SYR-ORD was usually delayed

IAD-SYR was ok
ORD-SYR seemed to either go on time if everything else was delayed meaning I spent 5 nights in ORD area hotels in 1 year or the SYR flight left at 2 am meaning I got home to ITH around 5 am.

with NW your choices are DTW, MSP, or ATL (since DL and NW are the same). DTW is a nice airport and much nicer for a connection than ORD, but 2 years ago UA was always cheaper and I had to go by price.

NW's checkin desks are horrible so don't ever check bags unless you like waiting in 30 minute lines.
UA usually got me in and on my way pretty fast.
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Old Feb 24, 09, 10:00 am   #6
 
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If you're flying a lot for work, you may well want to focus on just one airline program and its partners. Many of us find that the benefits of "elite status" become as or more important than the "free trips". You've got about 25000 RDM ("redeemable miles") for a free ticket but it sounds like some of that was from bonuses or credit cards or other non-flying.

Elite status begins at 25,000 EQM ("Elite Qualifying Miles") or as NW's new owner Delta calls them, MQM ("Medallion Qualifying Miles"). 25K flown EQM on UA gets you "Premier" (known as "2P" on FlyerTalk because that's the internal UA code for it on their ancient computers.) 25K flown EQM on NW gets you WorldPerks Silver Elite, which next year will become Delta SkyMiles Silver Medallion when Delta merges the NW WorldPerks program into Delta SkyMiles.

Status benefits vary somewhat between the programs, but here's what's in common.
1. Priority Boarding. At the Silver/Premier/25K level you don't get first priority boarding but you do get boarding ahead of non-elites in coach. This could mean the difference between overhead bin space for your rollaboard or having to check a bag for a business trip.
2. Waived checked bag fees for 1st and 2nd bag.
3. 25% bonus RDM earned when flying. Fly 1000 mile trip, you get 1000 EQM towards requalifying as elite but you get 1250 RDM towards your next awards.
4. Participation at the lowest priority level in the airline's free upgrade scheme. This differs greatly between UA and NW/DL, but both do offer upgrades to elites.
5. Priority check-in lines. An official SkyTeam benefit for NW/DL. Not an official *A benefit but offered by UA and some of its partners to *S (Star Silver 25K elites)

If you're flying 25K miles/year and you split it between UA and NW/DL, you're "dirt" on both airlines and both alliances. If you concentrate on earning elite status on just one airline and its partners, you get the benefits. If you're flying at least 50K/year, opinions will vary as to whether you should go for Silver/25K/Premier level in two programs or go for Gold/Premier Executive(1P) in just one.

If you choose NW, you're actually choosing Delta. You can earn EQM/MQM domestically on NW, DL, AS(Alaska - not in SkyTeam but a partner), and until CO leaves SkyTeam on 10/24/2009, on Continental. Plus their international partners. If you become a Silver Elite/Medallion from flying 25K, you'll get your 25% RDM bonus on almost all of their partners. You'll be eligible for "unlimited free upgrades" on domestic (North America) DL and NW flights, but you'll be at the bottom of the priority list below Gold and Platinum members. As an NW Silver for several years, I probably had about 25-40% upgrade success. If you join NW's program and earn NW Silver rather than crediting DL's program and earn DL Silver, you'll also be eligible for upgrades on CO until 10/24/2009 or sometime earlier, but definitely not after. DL Elites do NOT get upgrades on CO.

If you choose UA, you can earn UA EQM on UA, US, and shortly after 10/24/2009, on CO. If you become a 25K Premier (2P), you'll get your 25% RDM bonus on UA flights, on US flights, and on USA-Europe only Lufthansa flights, but not on any other UA partners. You will NOT get "unlimited free upgrades" but you will earn 4 "e500" Electronic Upgrade coupons good for upgrading 500 miles worth of UA only flights, for every 10,000 BIS ("Butt-in-Seat") miles you fly on United/United Express/Ted aircraft - nothing on partners counts for BIS upgrade earnings. Which means you at most will earn 8-e500 upgrades as a 25K/year flyer, which is enough to attempt to upgrade one transcon one-way and one shorter flight one-way. But you'll be at the bottom of the upgrade list behind GS (Global Services), 1K (100,000/year), 1P (50K) flyers.

For domestic reward redemption, I feel strongly that UA has far better Saver 25K RDM availability than either DL or NW (or for that matter CO or US - only AA is as good with domestic, own-metal award availability). NW and DL have relatively poor availability at their 25K level and now have a 3-tier level where often you have to pay 40K miles. Top tier is 60K miles domestic which is crazy.

For upgrades, I feel strongly that NW/DL is far better for the 25K EQM or even the 50K EQM/year flyer, in that you don't need to use "certificates" of which at those levels you earn relatively few.

Haven't gotten into the arcana of international partners, international upgrade availability, website preferences, search tools etc. But focusing just on domestic, I'd say UA if domestic awards are more important than upgrades, and NW/DL (with the NW program for 2009 until it becomes DL SM) if upgrades are more important than domestic saver availability.

I'd say splitting 25K EQM between them is a foolish waste of earning elite benefits.
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Old Feb 24, 09, 10:27 am   #7
 
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OP: Welcome to FT!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkXS View Post
I'd say splitting 25K EQM between them is a foolish waste of earning elite benefits.
It wasn't foolish for the OP to fly both airlines equally at first, to see how they compare. Now he can decide, based on his experiences with them and on their frequent flier programs, which one he wants to focus on.
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Old Feb 24, 09, 10:49 am   #8
 
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Yep, agree and apologies if it sounded wrong. OP was exactly right to try out a few. But it does make sense to focus now. Though flying just enough more on the "non-chosen" airline to top off RDM to an award level makes sense before starting the focus on the other.
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Old Feb 24, 09, 12:15 pm   #9
 
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I use to always fly with Northwest but back on my last vacation I found a great deal, $320 round trip to Frankfort Germany, which gave me a decent amount of United miles. So since i just recently hit my 25k mile mark with NWA and have a free flight banked with them and I currently sit at 14.5k miles with United from my Germany trip my thought was why not fly with United until i hit the 25K mile mark with them since I already have 14.5k. And now i have accomplished that. Well I will hit the 25k mark with United this friday actually. So now i have 25k with United, 25k with NWA... Enough for a free flight on both airlines at least i think? So now i DO want to stick with one airline from now on.

I am just confused on all the details and information, on which one is better. UA has some 500 mile coupon that i cant seem to find that much info on and there website seems alot more confusing to use then NWA.

Basically i fly from SYR - DFW 2 weeks a month for work and on a rare occusion i will fly into TVC (Traverse City, Michigan) which is where my family is to visit.

So from everyones experience and based on my flying locations and since price really isnt an issue since its paid for by work. Which airline and there partners is a better fit. NWA / Delta and there partners or United and there partners.

Upgrades would be nice but like i said i am fairly new to all the details of the freq. flyer programs and every little detail so just wondering who would you reccommend sticking with from now on NWA (Delta) or UA?

Thanks!







Quote:
Originally Posted by snic View Post
OP: Welcome to FT!



It wasn't foolish for the OP to fly both airlines equally at first, to see how they compare. Now he can decide, based on his experiences with them and on their frequent flier programs, which one he wants to focus on.
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Old Feb 24, 09, 12:41 pm   #10
 
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Make sure you understand the difference between qualifying miles (e.g., EQMs, MQMs, etc.) and redeemable miles, as highlighted in MarkXS' post #6 in this thread.
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Old Feb 24, 09, 1:09 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benny8444 View Post
There are also no change or cancel fees with standard awards.
This is not correct. The fees for standard awards and saver awards are exactly the same. In both cases, date/time changes are free, while routing/airline/class changes and redeposit of miles are $150 (waived for 1Ks).

The only practical difference is that since standard awards are not capacity controlled, you can be quite sure that you will be able to make changes if needed, while on saver awards, while theoretically date/time changes are free, usually there is no space without also changing the routing, which triggers the fee.
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Old Feb 24, 09, 1:31 pm   #12
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Do not assume that 25,000 miles is enough for a free flight. It is when there is availability, which seems to happen in the dead of winter between Cleveland and Buffalo. With United, when you want the award it may be 50,000 miles instead of 25,000 miles. Northwest is now adopting the Delta three tier scheme, so it might be 25,000 miles, it might be 40,000 miles, it might be 60,000 miles. Don't believe the 25,000 marketing hype, the reality is often different.
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Old Feb 24, 09, 1:37 pm   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by covsting76 View Post
...
UA has some 500 mile coupon that i cant seem to find that much info on and there website seems alot more confusing to use then NWA.
...
for more on e500s see UA E-Upgrades T&Cs or this forum's FAQ at the top of the thread listing

Quote:
Originally Posted by covsting76 View Post
...
Basically i fly from SYR - DFW 2 weeks a month for work and on a rare occusion i will fly into TVC (Traverse City, Michigan) which is where my family is to visit.
...
Since your business trips are roughtly 12 times a year and your vacations maybe once or twice a year, pick the airline that best serves you for business and get elite status on that airline for even better service. Who has the better schedule (since price seems to not be an issue) would be my first criterion. Who can best handle weather issues (a possible conccern in SYR and other northern cities), such as providing alternative flights/connections?
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