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Making the most of Skywards as a new occasional SkySaver Flyer

Making the most of Skywards as a new occasional SkySaver Flyer

Old Jan 23, 12, 12:57 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: PEK/NYC
Programs: UA Gold / *A Gold
Posts: 153
Making the most of Skywards as a new occasional SkySaver Flyer

I just joined and booked my first flight on EK, as the airfare was 50% cheaper than *A and 40% less than SkyTeam, which I have silver Status for both. I pretty much giving up any chance to make *A Gold this year to book my cheap EK flight, a worthwhile trade to save $ 600 on this booking alone.

While this is my first time on EK, I imagine I'll only be flying EK again when they are markedly cheaper than *A or Skyteam, so I'd say their is only a small chance I'll make silver, and a very small chance I'll ever be gold. Given this situation, I want to get the most out of EK and Skywards. Sure, I read plenty of complaints about limitations on reward flights, esp. on partner airlines, by long time EQ flyers, but I figure I'd seek advise early on, not just a few months before miles expire.

While in the past, I have been loyal to *A (mostly Continental) and SkyTeam (mostly Delta), as they have a lot of options between New York and Beijing (my most common itinerary). Being self-employed, I have a lot of flexibility on when to fly, so I book the cheapest I can find many months in advance, as any money saved on airfare helps fattens my wallet. Other than OP upgrades, I never sit in business or F, as I can't justify paying so much money for a few hour of added comfort. The most important perks for me is a better chance for an aisle seat, bigger luggage allowances, and being able to check in with business and F customers. The lounge is not a big deal. I want to save money, with the only "pampering" truely sought after is an aisle seat, ideally one with more leg room. Sometimes the US based carriers make me pay $ 130 or so for that on a long haul flights to avoid a middle seat.

Even for blues, EK is generous with its luggage allowance for flights in/out of the US, so getting silver or gold is not a big deal. What I really want to get out of Skyward is the occational free flight (upgrades are not important to me, but are thankfully accepted. As miles expire after three years, I am not sure if I'll every have enough points to earn a free flight between Beijing and NY. Assuming their is availability, getting 70K points I could use on Korean Air seems more likely than the 105K EK needs, but I am not sure flying EQ once or twice a year will get me enough through cheap SkySaver fares. Perhaps before the miles expire, just one of the legs, paying cash for the leg onward to or from DXB. Despite the posts saying EK has become expensive, if they regularly offer cheap fares on the route I use, I'll fly them often and the three year expiration won't be a big deal to me, however, over the let 2 years, other than the occational price blip like now, EK tends to much more than my best S* or ST deal.

Before booking this first flight, I totally wrote off any value I'd get fro Skywards, with the hope I'd be pleasantly surprised to score free travel down the road. My S* and ST eilte status is useful and valuable to me, but so is saving money. If I flew a single alliance, I would have 75K BIS miles easy, making me a the third tier "Platinum" (I know EK only has Gold, second tier after blue), but I am really a "bad" customer from a revenue point of view, as I buy the cheapest tickets in the back of the plane.

I am going about this right way? Should I have my miles on EK accumulate in another program? Doing some research on Korean Air (an airline I like, and is ST) it would be unlikley I'd get to earn any points flying EK using the deeply discounted SkySaver fares, so it seems I should just consider myself lucky that I get roughly one mile/tier point for every two that I fly EQ into Skyward.

Last edited by dhelman; Jan 23, 12 at 1:19 am
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Old Jan 23, 12, 2:11 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: OSL
Posts: 4,430
I'm not quite sure what your question is. You want to redeem miles for a free flight but you're unwilling to stick to the same airline. New York to Beijing will earn you 9,500 miles on a Saver fare, return. Unless you're planning to do 2-3 flights a year and all on EK, you're not going to have enough miles for a redemption. Even a Dubai - Shanghai would be 52,500 miles and you'd pay as much for JFK - DXB. Can't get frequent flyer benefits without flying frequently!

As far as aisle seats go, just ask for one at check in - EK doesn't charge for these.
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Old Jan 23, 12, 3:45 am
  #3  
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: PEK/NYC
Programs: UA Gold / *A Gold
Posts: 153
Sorry, I should have had a clearer stated question about my post.

I was loyal to mostly *A and ST as their prices were good (on routes I flew), service was reasonable, and despite flaws, FF program was rewarding. With Skyward, the 50% points for flying on the cheapest ticket "hurts" me, so the value is just saving money on tickets (and hopefully) good service.

I was posting to see if their is a better FF program I can designate for my EK activity, as my reward and tier status on EK will be limited. I don't think so, as rules about earning points are even more restrictive about flying on one airline and earning on another FF program with cheap tickets. (Almost) all FF programs let Y and above tickets earn more points than discounted couch, it just seemed EK's program rules are tighter than most between a 50% reduction, three year expiration, and high redemption amounts. Not to complain, but many other FF with expirying miles let you extend the miles valaidty with activity. These miles appear to expire after 3 years (plus the birthday month thing) full stop.

I'll appreciate the savings now and have a nice surprised for any valuable redemptions/tier status I may earn. That said, if I missed an idea on a way to spin my EK activity into something more likely to be of a tangible benefits to me, any suggestions are welcome.

Last edited by dhelman; Jan 23, 12 at 3:53 am
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Old Jan 23, 12, 4:29 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Exile
Posts: 14,758
75k annual BIS miles on Emirates using Saver fares will get you Silver but not much more. You will probably earn around 50k Skywards miles from that much flying including bonuses. That can be used for a decent redemption when accumulated over a 3 year period.

As a comparison point, I flew 117916 BIS miles on Emirates last year and finished with 51375 Tier Miles and just over 118000 Skywards Miles for my efforts, including bonuses.
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