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Which Frequent Flyer Program to Join? Help Is Here!

Which Frequent Flyer Program to Join? Help Is Here!

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Old Mar 29, 21, 1:04 pm   -   Wikipost
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Before posting please read POSTS 1-3 for a comprehensive overview of how to select a program.
If you already plan to focus on one particular alliance, please visit the sticky in the relevant forum: Deciding on a oneworld FFP or Which SkyTeam FFP or Choosing a Star FFP

List of frequent flyer programs from Wikipedia

Questionnaire: Copy and paste into your post
Provide the requested information.

1. What is most important to you in a frequent flyer program (FFP)?
upgrades, priority services, baggage allowance, good award redemption rates, better award access, lounge access, etc.
>>> Reply:

2. How many miles do you usually fly each year? How many flights/sectors?
less than 25000 miles, 50000+ miles and 20-25 flights, etc.
>>> Reply:

3. What fare class do you usually buy?
first, business, premium economy, economy
>>> Reply:

4. Are you able to choose your airlines and/or class of service? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
>>> Reply:

5. Which routes do you fly most often?
transatlantic, domestic USA, intra-Asia, etc.
>>> Reply:

6. What is your home airport?
>>> Reply:

7. Do you have status in any FFP? What is it? How miles do you have banked in each FFP, if any?
>>> Reply:

8. What are your preferred airlines, if any?
>>> Reply:
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Old Aug 7, 22, 11:08 pm
  #1726  
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Not here; there!
Programs: AA Lifetime Gold
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Originally Posted by cinny View Post
I realize that and am trying to rectify that going forward. Which ffp should I stay loyal to given my flying patterns (variable, a mix of US domestic and abroad) and home base (NJ/New York and Boston)? Upgrades are probably most important given that I mostly travel for work and can get reimbursed on economy
There was a big change announced earlier this year re: the AAdvantage frequent-flyer program. As you may have heard, AAdvantage now uses a "Loyalty Points" scheme for determining status, so base miles earned from hotel stays, car rentals, co-branded credit-card spend, AAdvantage Dining, AAdvantage e-shopping, etc., all count towards attaining status. The upside of that is that you can attain status more quickly (and maybe even higher status than you might otherwise attain) depending on how much of those other earnings you can garner. The downside is that everybody else in the AAdvantage program can do so too.

AA has partnerships with both Alaska and JetBlue, so there are plenty of opportunities for earning AAdvantage LPs in the NYC and BOS areas. But Delta is also very strong in NYC and BOS.

I suggest that you take a look at what level of status you could likely attain through both AA and DL. Also do some dummy award searches on aa.com and delta.com to get an idea of how many miles each program might charge for redemptions you might actually make.
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Old Aug 8, 22, 6:46 am
  #1727  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Boston, MA
Programs: HH <>, B6 mosaic
Posts: 216
Summary:

Being a BOS based flyer is tough for choosing an airline since we are not a proper hub like ORD, EWR, ORD, LAX, etc. I'm just getting started traveling again in a new job post-pandemic. My leisure travel (using rewards) is mostly from BOS-RSW, BOS-JAC, and BOS-SLC. My priorities are award availability and then upgrades. I may open a lounge membership as well. My options:

AA: I was flying AA for years out of BOS but will likely never achieve lifetime status with my past and expected future travel. I'm trying to decide if I should book all flights on AA flight numbers using a combination of AA, B6, and AS metal. This combination is probably the largest alliance at BOS right now and gives me the most nonstop flights. I'd like to do some more travel to Europe with the family and I'm frustrated with the award availability on AA metal and BA's fees. They have a good lounge in BOS that allows families.

DL: DL is making a comeback in BOS and has as many passengers as AA on their metal but I have zero miles or status with them. Lounge access is for primary traveler only. Only 2-3 trips out of my 25-30 trips per year are with family but it's a nice perk to extend to them.

UA: I don't see any point in flying UA since they have so few flights and it's not like I'm traveling to one of their hubs frequently.

B6: It's easy to get Mosaic for boarding, bag fees, and preferred seats but their thin operations are maddening as a business traveler. I'm also not thrilled with how they are pricing some of their leisure routes for this winter which is significantly devaluing my B6 points. It's like $800 or more to fly BOS-RSW during peak periods. If I'm going to use B6 reservations on AA metal I feel like I should just go all in on AA and book with AA.

(1) What is most important to you in a FFP?
(upgrades on travel, priority services when flying the airline, extra baggage allowance, good award redemption rates, better award access, free - discounted lounge access, etc.)
Reply: Good redemption rates first and upgrades on travel second

(2) How many miles do you usually fly each year & in what class? How many flights/sectors?
(<25000, 25000-50000, >50000 miles - <25, 25-50, >50 flights?)
Reply: I am just getting started in a new job post-pandemic, I expect to put up 25 round trips per year, 90% domestic US, average price $500 per ticket

(3) What types of fares do you usually buy ?
(First, Business, Premium economy, Economy, cheapest)
Reply: economy

(4) Can you choose your airlines and/or class of service? Airline most flown? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
Reply: yes, full control over airline selection, can book directly on airline website for now. 2-3 personal trips per year.

(5) Which routes and airlines do you fly most often
(US Domestic, Transpacific, Kangaroo, in Asia etc)
Reply: US domestic

(6) What is your home airport?
(SFO, SCL, London LHR, HKG, Singapore SIN etc.)
Reply: BOS

(7) Do you have FFP status of any kind in an airline? What is it? Do you have any miles banked in a FFP?
(AA Executive Platinum, UA 1K, LAN Comodoro, etc)
Reply: Jetblue Mosaic through the rest of 2022

(8) Preferred Airlines
Reply:

I have 300k jetblue points, 367k AA miles and 8800 AA loyalty points for the 2022 year, 90k UA miles (wife has 300k).

My thought is I should just go all in on AA since they have the largest alliance in BOS, I have a decent mileage balance already, and I like their lounge access. The BA fuel surcharges are frustrating but I deal with it. I've been able to score some good reward flights on AA web specials for domestic US flights which makes up for it.

Last edited by bcl00; Aug 8, 22 at 7:01 am
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Old Aug 8, 22, 2:41 pm
  #1728  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 7
Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
There was a big change announced earlier this year re: the AAdvantage frequent-flyer program. As you may have heard, AAdvantage now uses a "Loyalty Points" scheme for determining status, so base miles earned from hotel stays, car rentals, co-branded credit-card spend, AAdvantage Dining, AAdvantage e-shopping, etc., all count towards attaining status. The upside of that is that you can attain status more quickly (and maybe even higher status than you might otherwise attain) depending on how much of those other earnings you can garner. The downside is that everybody else in the AAdvantage program can do so too.

AA has partnerships with both Alaska and JetBlue, so there are plenty of opportunities for earning AAdvantage LPs in the NYC and BOS areas. But Delta is also very strong in NYC and BOS.

I suggest that you take a look at what level of status you could likely attain through both AA and DL. Also do some dummy award searches on aa.com and delta.com to get an idea of how many miles each program might charge for redemptions you might actually make.
thank you. In the last I think Ive heard that Alaska can be the way to go even when someone doesnt actually fly Alaska very often. Given that theyre in one world, when would it make sense to choose them over AA?
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Old Aug 8, 22, 4:42 pm
  #1729  
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Not here; there!
Programs: AA Lifetime Gold
Posts: 25,064
Originally Posted by cinny View Post
thank you. In the last I think Ive heard that Alaska can be the way to go even when someone doesnt actually fly Alaska very often. Given that theyre in one world, when would it make sense to choose them over AA?
No matter how many miles you fly on other carriers, you cannot attain status in Alaska's MVP frequent-flyer program unless you fly some AS flights. The number of AS flights required varies from one level to another. Details here:

https://upgradedpoints.com/travel/ai...-elite-status/

("How To Get Alaska Airlines Elite Status (And Is It Worth It?)")
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Old Aug 10, 22, 12:48 pm
  #1730  
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Programs: AAdvantage, Miles&Smiles
Posts: 4
Stick with TK?

Summary:
With a base in the CMI/BMI area, I have had a comfortable AAdvantage Gold status for a few years due to segment-based status earning (almost all round trips ended in 4+ segments). With a switch to spending-based method, the golden days have seemingly disappeared. In addition (or consequently), I now often choose to fly out of ORD for lower prices and more options.

I am currently still AAdvantage Gold, but probably won't make the renewal this year. I am increasingly flying on *A as well, where I pick up miles using my old TK account (no status), but I have been unhappy with their limited redemption availability and clunky mechanism for partner redemption. I imagine 50+% of my flights will still continue to be on AA/OW, so I will continue with AAdvantage, but I am wondering if it would make sense to switch to some other *A airlines for the Star Alliance miles. I naturally understand that I will not likely obtain status on any airline, but I think I don't have much choice given that I want to minimize my expenses.


(1) What is most important to you in a FFP?
Reply: Given my amount of flying and other constraints, I imagine I should focus on award redemption. I love the extra baggage allowance and priority services on AA, but I think those days are done for me. Pricing and convenience in the sense of timing are by far my primary drivers of flight choice. (I like perks, but only if they do not require much investment from me.)

(2) How many miles do you usually fly each year & in what class? How many flights/sectors?
Reply: Probably around 30k miles, 40 segments (10-15 round trips), around 50% US economy, 25% US-Canada economy, 25% international economy. Around $500 per trip, so a total of around $7,000/year.

(3) What types of fares do you usually buy ?
Reply: Economy.

(4) Can you choose your airlines and/or class of service? Airline most flown? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
Reply: Travel 60% for work, 40% pleasure. On work, choice of airlines constrained by Fly America Act, but no other constraints. Class of service always economy for money reasons. Airline most flown AA, UA second.

(5) Which routes and airlines do you fly most often
Reply: 50% US economy, 25% US-Canada economy, 25% international economy. Airline most flown AA, UA second, but driven primarily by price.

(6) What is your home airport?
Reply: BMI/CMI, also often drive up to ORD/MDW.

(7) Do you have FFP status of any kind in an airline? What is it? Do you have any miles banked in a FFP?
Reply: AAdvantage Gold, 70k miles currently, and TK Miles&Smiles, no status, 10k miles currently.

(8) Preferred Airlines
Reply: No real preference.

I'd really appreciate the experts' input on what (if anything) to switch to from TK.

Last edited by bspringer; Aug 10, 22 at 12:56 pm Reason: typo
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Old Aug 10, 22, 1:06 pm
  #1731  
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Not here; there!
Programs: AA Lifetime Gold
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Originally Posted by bspringer View Post
Summary:
With a base in the CMI/BMI area, I have had a comfortable AAdvantage Gold status for a few years due to segment-based status earning (almost all round trips ended in 4+ segments). With a switch to spending-based method, the golden days have seemingly disappeared. In addition (or consequently), I now often choose to fly out of ORD for lower prices and more options.

I am currently still AAdvantage Gold, but probably won't make the renewal this year. I am increasingly flying on *A as well, where I pick up miles using my old TK account (no status), but I have been unhappy with their limited redemption availability and clunky mechanism for partner redemption. I imagine 50+% of my flights will still continue to be on AA/OW, so I will continue with AAdvantage, but I am wondering if it would make sense to switch to some other *A airlines for the Star Alliance miles. I naturally understand that I will not likely obtain status on any airline, but I think I don't have much choice given that I want to minimize my expenses.


(1) What is most important to you in a FFP?
Reply: Given my amount of flying and other constraints, I imagine I should focus on award redemption. I love the extra baggage allowance and priority services on AA, but I think those days are done for me. Pricing and convenience in the sense of timing are by far my primary drivers of flight choice. (I like perks, but only if they do not require much investment from me.)

(2) How many miles do you usually fly each year & in what class? How many flights/sectors?
Reply: Probably around 30k miles, 40 segments (10-15 round trips), around 50% US economy, 25% US-Canada economy, 25% international economy. Around $500 per trip, so a total of around $7,000/year.

(3) What types of fares do you usually buy ?
Reply: Economy.

(4) Can you choose your airlines and/or class of service? Airline most flown? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
Reply: Travel 60% for work, 40% pleasure. On work, choice of airlines constrained by Fly America Act, but no other constraints. Class of service always economy for money reasons. Airline most flown AA, UA second.

(5) Which routes and airlines do you fly most often
Reply: 50% US economy, 25% US-Canada economy, 25% international economy. Airline most flown AA, UA second, but driven primarily by price.

(6) What is your home airport?
Reply: BMI/CMI, also often drive up to ORD/MDW.

(7) Do you have FFP status of any kind in an airline? What is it? Do you have any miles banked in a FFP?
Reply: AAdvantage Gold, 70k miles currently, and TK Miles&Smiles, no status, 10k miles currently.

(8) Preferred Airlines
Reply: No real preference.

I'd really appreciate the experts' input on what (if anything) to switch to from TK.


If you spend about $7,000/year on AA-coded flights, that would be sufficient to get AAdvantage Gold status.

And I trust that you do know that things like credit-card spend, car rentals, hotel stays, AAdvantage Dining, and AAdvantage e-shopping now earn Loyalty Points that count towards AAdvantage status. Depending on your shopping/spending patterns, you could conceivably attain AAdvantage Platinum.​​​​​
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Old Aug 10, 22, 1:09 pm
  #1732  
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Programs: AAdvantage, Miles&Smiles
Posts: 4
Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post


If you spend about $7,000/year on AA-coded flights, that would be sufficient to get AAdvantage Gold status.

And I trust that you do know that things like credit-card spend, car rentals, hotel stays, AAdvantage Dining, and AAdvantage e-shopping now earn Loyalty Points that count towards AAdvantage status. Depending on your shopping/spending patterns, you could conceivably attain AAdvantage Platinum.​​​​​
Thanks, but as described, I do not spend $7,000/year on AA-coded flights. I am primarily price-driven (and for work reasons forced to be price-driven), so not all of my spending can go on AA. I would say that my AA spending is no more than $3,500. I currently do not have interest in pursuing AAdvantage dining, e-shopping, or credit card, and my car rental and hotel stay amounts are not enough to make up the difference (and I am fine with that). My question is primarily on what to do with the ~$2,500 that go on *A.
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Old Aug 10, 22, 1:33 pm
  #1733  
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Join Date: Dec 2003
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Originally Posted by bspringer View Post
I would say that my AA spending is no more than $3,500. I currently do not have interest in pursuing AAdvantage dining, e-shopping, or credit card, and my car rental and hotel stay amounts are not enough to make up the difference (and I am fine with that). My question is primarily on what to do with the ~$2,500 that go on *A.
OK. Then I guess the question is: What kind of Star Alliance redemptions would you be interested in? Domestic? International? You can continue to credit UA flights to TK, but could also credit them to UA itself, AC, AV LifeMiles, or any other Star Alliance frequent-flyer program. You would really need to examine the earnings on each program for your Economy Class flying, and then consider the redemption rates for your Economy Class award trips.

Also, just want to make sure you realize that, as an AAdvantage Gold, your $3,500 in AA-coded fares (which probably translates to about $3,200 in pre-tax fares) should earn you more than 22,000 Loyalty Points, or more than ⅔ of the way to the 30,000 LPs needed annually to retain Gold. Since Golds earn 1,000 miles on even a one-day car rental at Avis/Budget airport locations, you could be within striking distance. (But if your car rentals are on the government rate, they might not qualify for earning miles.)

Good luck!
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Old Aug 11, 22, 7:48 am
  #1734  
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Programs: AAdvantage, Miles&Smiles
Posts: 4
Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
OK. Then I guess the question is: What kind of Star Alliance redemptions would you be interested in? Domestic? International? You can continue to credit UA flights to TK, but could also credit them to UA itself, AC, AV LifeMiles, or any other Star Alliance frequent-flyer program. You would really need to examine the earnings on each program for your Economy Class flying, and then consider the redemption rates for your Economy Class award trips.
Thank you so much! I have to admit I was hoping that is the kind of analysis that someone already might have done, at least as a rule of thumb. For instance, once upon a time the theory was that TK was the best choice because it has very cheap redemption rates (which is still often true, but their availability and customer service leave me wanting).
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Old Aug 11, 22, 12:31 pm
  #1735  
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Join Date: Dec 2003
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Programs: AA Lifetime Gold
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Originally Posted by bspringer View Post
Thank you so much! I have to admit I was hoping that is the kind of analysis that someone already might have done, at least as a rule of thumb. For instance, once upon a time the theory was that TK was the best choice because it has very cheap redemption rates (which is still often true, but their availability and customer service leave me wanting).
You might consider posting in this thread in the FlyerTalk Star Alliance forum, making clear that you will only be purchasing Economy fares, and specifying what types of redemptions you are likely to make (domestic U.S.? trans-border? intercontinental? some combination?) Even if someone has already worked out which Star Alliance program is best under various scenarios, you need to provide enough information about your intended redemptions for someone to know which scenario you fall into.

Need advice on which *A FF scheme to join? - please post here
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Old Sep 19, 22, 11:29 pm
  #1736  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2
I’m a bit lost so any help will be appreciated. I do not fly frequently. Historically, I have always hunted for the cheapest fare. However, I was wondering if I should focus on loyalty. I recently moved and will likely travel on a recurring route 5-6 times per year from LA to NYC area. In addition to (1-2 trips per year). Given that info is there any recommendations on how I should approach selecting a FFP?

1. What is most important to you in a frequent flyer program (FFP)?

upgrades, priority services, baggage allowance, good award redemption rates, better award access, lounge access, etc.

>>> Reply: upgrades and awards



2. How many miles do you usually fly each year? How many flights/sectors?

less than 25000 miles, 50000+ miles and 20-25 flights, etc.

>>> Reply: generally, don’t fly much. But, moving away from family so expecting to fly more frequently. I’d estimate 25000+ miles



3. What fare class do you usually buy?

first, business, premium economy, economy

>>> Reply: economy



4. Are you able to choose your airlines and/or class of service? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?

>>> Reply: yes, non-work



5. Which routes do you fly most often?

transatlantic, domestic USA, intra-Asia, etc.

>>> Reply: domestic USA



6. What is your home airport?

>>> Reply: LAX / NYC area (will be my most common route)



7. Do you have status in any FFP? What is it? How miles do you have banked in each FFP, if any?

>>> Reply: no status, 190k banked in Korean air skypass



8. What are your preferred airlines, if any?

>>> Reply: no strong preference

Last edited by ehcwang; Sep 20, 22 at 6:52 am
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Old Sep 20, 22, 11:45 am
  #1737  
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Not here; there!
Programs: AA Lifetime Gold
Posts: 25,064
ehcwang,

The major U S. carriers now determine status based on dollars spent, not miles flown. (There are some exceptions for flights taken on partner carriers.) So I very much doubt that half a dozen cheap, Economy Class roundtrips between LAX and NYC would get you status on any of them. That said, depending on your non-airline spending patterns, you might well be able to achieve status on AA. AA instituted a new scheme (Loyalty Points) this year for achieving status. Dollars charged to a Barclays or Citi AA credit card earn Loyalty Points, as do hotel stays, car rentals, and spend via AAdvantage Dining, AAdvantage e-shopping, Simply Miles, etc. You can read details of the new Loyalty Points scheme here:

https://exploreamerican.com/newaadvantage/
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Old Sep 20, 22, 6:25 pm
  #1738  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2
Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
ehcwang,

The major U S. carriers now determine status based on dollars spent, not miles flown. (There are some exceptions for flights taken on partner carriers.) So I very much doubt that half a dozen cheap, Economy Class roundtrips between LAX and NYC would get you status on any of them. That said, depending on your non-airline spending patterns, you might well be able to achieve status on AA. AA instituted a new scheme (Loyalty Points) this year for achieving status. Dollars charged to a Barclays or Citi AA credit card earn Loyalty Points, as do hotel stays, car rentals, and spend via AAdvantage Dining, AAdvantage e-shopping, Simply Miles, etc. You can read details of the new Loyalty Points scheme here:

xxx
Great, thanks for the help. I thought it may be enough to squeeze in at Gold status, once factoring in the 1-2 int'l flights per year. My non-airline spending is low six figures, but I always funneled that through to earn UR and MR respectively. I wonder if there is a case where it may be better to go for status, but with my flying frequency perhaps I'm going overboard with my research. Maybe I'm better off adding a carrier card to my rotation.
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Old Sep 20, 22, 7:33 pm
  #1739  
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Not here; there!
Programs: AA Lifetime Gold
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Originally Posted by ehcwang View Post
Great, thanks for the help. I thought it may be enough to squeeze in at Gold status, once factoring in the 1-2 int'l flights per year. My non-airline spending is low six figures, but I always funneled that through to earn UR and MR respectively. I wonder if there is a case where it may be better to go for status, but with my flying frequency perhaps I'm going overboard with my research. Maybe I'm better off adding a carrier card to my rotation.
For a bunch of spend categories, you would get more bang for your buck with certain Amex and Chase cards, than with, say, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Mastercard, which earn two miles per $ on AA purchases, and on restaurant and gas station purchases, but just one mile per $ on everything else. But if you're willing to move ~ $15K in spend to the Barclays and/or Citi AAdvantage card, then you could probably attain the 30,000 Loyalty Points needed to attain AAdvantage Gold status; just be mindful that the qualifying period runs from March 1 to February 28 each year. So if you plan to pursue this, you might want to wait until mid-February before applying for an AAdvantage credit card, unless you think that you can amass 30,000 LPs by February 28, 2023.

I would also check out the AAdvantage Dining program, as well as AAdvantage e-shopping. If you dine at participating restaurants or shop at participating online merchants anyway, you can earn Loyalty Points. You can even use an Amex or (Chase) Visa if you prefer; Mastercards are only required for the "Simply Miles" promotions.

Good luck!
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Old Sep 21, 22, 7:59 am
  #1740  
 
Join Date: Feb 2022
Location: LAX
Programs: UA
Posts: 645
Originally Posted by ehcwang View Post
Im a bit lost so any help will be appreciated. I do not fly frequently. Historically, I have always hunted for the cheapest fare. However, I was wondering if I should focus on loyalty. I recently moved and will likely travel on a recurring route 5-6 times per year from LA to NYC area. In addition to (1-2 trips per year). Given that info is there any recommendations on how I should approach selecting a FFP?

1. What is most important to you in a frequent flyer program (FFP)?

upgrades, priority services, baggage allowance, good award redemption rates, better award access, lounge access, etc.

>>> Reply: upgrades and awards
Airlines will always have the best award availability on their own flights. Where do you want award flights to?
5. Which routes do you fly most often?

transatlantic, domestic USA, intra-Asia, etc.

>>> Reply: domestic USA


6. What is your home airport?

>>> Reply: LAX / NYC area (will be my most common route)
Is one of the NYC airports more convenient than the others for you? If you're in Manhattan, EWR is probably the easiest to get to, but if you're in one of the other boroughs, then JFK and LGA may be easier to get to. If you would prefer LAX-EWR, then UA is the logical options. For LAX-JFK, then AA or DL would be better. AA also flies SNA-JFK I think?
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