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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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Last edit by: Mwenenzi
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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 Sep 4, 14, 3:00 pm
  #211  
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: JAX
Posts: 2
Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
105proof Welcome to FT


You US miles will in time become AA miles, following the merger
If you fly different airlines United & Alaska (a good catch all) are worth considering joining.

Here on FT merchandise (~junk) is considered poor value compared to flying in premiumn cabins
Ahh, so that's why no one seems to mention Southwest. I'm still a green flyer with much to learn.

I'll be sure check out United & Alaska as well.

Thanks!
105proof is offline  
Old Sep 4, 14, 4:10 pm
  #212  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 820
Originally Posted by 105proof View Post
Ahh, so that's why no one seems to mention Southwest. I'm still a green flyer with much to learn.
The problem with redeeming ff miles for "stuff" is that when you calculate how many miles it takes you to buy the item versus how much you had to spend to earn those miles, it turns out to be a ripoff. You're getting less value back than if you'd just used a 2% cash back card and used the cash back to buy the items.

Use miles to fly, and cash back to get stuff. That's the way to obtain the best value.
artemis is offline  
Old Sep 5, 14, 2:52 pm
  #213  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 8
Hello,

I'd appreciate any advice on getting a reply in this thread. I'm not sure if I provided too much or too little information before, but I'll try to keep it simpler this time.

-Deciding between AA, AK or DL

-New home base is going to be DMM(Saudi Arabia)

-Will likely take two vacations a year visiting both IND and SLC(about 22k miles RT) each time and one vacation a year to either Europe or SW Asia. Potentially a few short weekend hops to the UAE(DXB/AUH).

-Family of 4 traveling together each time. (Two small kids)

-Probably always flying coach(4 tickets each time gets expensive)

-Initial move from SLC to DMM is business class and will take place by EOY.(about 10k miles plus 50% class bonus)

-Primarily looking to max FFMs for award tickets to offset the cost of flying either DMM->SW Asia or SLC/IND->Popular NA vacation destinations(Caribbean, Florida, Hawaii, Alaska). Also would like to be able to continue enjoying accumulated benefits with the airline or alliance when we eventually move back to the US in 10 years or so.

AA- Oneworld members are well represented out of DMM and the ME/ S.Asia region. I'd like my family to have the experience flying nicer international airlines such as OW partner Etihad on the long segments. AA award tickets seem to cost less than others.

DL- SLC hub. One stop flights from SLC to DMM via AMS(KL). Direct flights between SLC and IND. Cons- More pleasant experience flying non-US airlines. Negative changes to Skymiles program.

AK- Partnered with largest local carriers in the middle east and SLC (EK and DL). EQM also transfer. Bolstering presence in SLC. Redeeming miles with partner airlines such as EK through AK costs less that earning and redeeming directly through EK. Cons- Partner relationships seem tenuous(AK/DL EK/UA).

-At least $12k in airline spend a year. At least $25k in total CC spend annually.

-Status would be nice, but based on the information above, it doesn't appear that we'll travel enough to warrant benefits on overseas flights.

I'm leaning AA. Any glaring pros/cons I'm overlooking? Thoughts?
Thank you very much!

Previous posts:
Moving to the Middle East

No feedback on my original inquiry

Last edited by shawarma; Sep 6, 14 at 2:05 pm
shawarma is offline  
Old Sep 8, 14, 11:37 am
  #214  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 8
What if we just boil it down to AA, AK or DL for a family based in the middle east that calls SLC and IND home. Primary care is earning FFM toward award tickets and options flying in and out of the middle east.

Any input is very much appreciated!
shawarma is offline  
Old Sep 8, 14, 12:18 pm
  #215  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Programs: AA Plat., UA Plat., HH Gold, SPG Gold, Marriott Gold
Posts: 91
I need some help for next year. Here is my situation:

I am currently with United and American Airlines. I fly ~ 100k with United and 30k miles with American.

I'm thinking about switching next year to using a Lufthansa FF# for the United flights.

The trouble with United is that the vast majority (90%) of my flights are actually operated by Lufthansa. For my PQD requirement, I check every time I book to see if I can get an 016 ticket number. Sometimes these are more money, and since it is a business expense I can't justify spending additional money for personal gain. Once I got an 016 ticket number for the same amount on a very complicated itinerary and that is all the PQD I have earned this year. I do use the CC to spend enough to wave the PQD requirement for Platinum but it means I can't get 1k.

My hesitation is that I want to be able to use the redeemable miles for leisure travel. I'm not sure how available Lufthansa miles are for reward redemption and if I can book through other star alliance partners with Lufthansa miles. I also have accrued significant miles on United, but I'm not sure if it is enough that I should start spreading them out to other programs.

My goals for the miles are in order:

1. Future reward flights to take me and the wife to cool places
2. Status to make business traveling easier - economy plus, priority boarding, lounge access in EU
3. Ability to maybe sometimes get free upgrades (overbooked planes, etc)
4. Ability to use miles for award upgrades (this is really far behind the others - I do fine in Coach on overnight flights - only if I have to land in the early AM and work all day would I consider an upgrade).

So the grand question is: Should I use a Lufthansa FF# or continue with United? It may be worth knowing that I am based in Boston, MA. USA. Target areas to visit are Greece, France, New Zealand, and Australia.

Thanks for any info!
CoolMike is offline  
Old Sep 8, 14, 12:24 pm
  #216  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Programs: AA Plat., UA Plat., HH Gold, SPG Gold, Marriott Gold
Posts: 91
Originally Posted by shawarma View Post
Hello,

I'd appreciate any advice on getting a reply in this thread. I'm not sure if I provided too much or too little information before, but I'll try to keep it simpler this time.

-Deciding between AA, AK or DL

-New home base is going to be DMM(Saudi Arabia)

-Will likely take two vacations a year visiting both IND and SLC(about 22k miles RT) each time and one vacation a year to either Europe or SW Asia. Potentially a few short weekend hops to the UAE(DXB/AUH).

-Family of 4 traveling together each time. (Two small kids)

-Probably always flying coach(4 tickets each time gets expensive)

-Initial move from SLC to DMM is business class and will take place by EOY.(about 10k miles plus 50% class bonus)

-Primarily looking to max FFMs for award tickets to offset the cost of flying either DMM->SW Asia or SLC/IND->Popular NA vacation destinations(Caribbean, Florida, Hawaii, Alaska). Also would like to be able to continue enjoying accumulated benefits with the airline or alliance when we eventually move back to the US in 10 years or so.

AA- Oneworld members are well represented out of DMM and the ME/ S.Asia region. I'd like my family to have the experience flying nicer international airlines such as OW partner Etihad on the long segments. AA award tickets seem to cost less than others.

DL- SLC hub. One stop flights from SLC to DMM via AMS(KL). Direct flights between SLC and IND. Cons- More pleasant experience flying non-US airlines. Negative changes to Skymiles program.

AK- Partnered with largest local carriers in the middle east and SLC (EK and DL). EQM also transfer. Bolstering presence in SLC. Redeeming miles with partner airlines such as EK through AK costs less that earning and redeeming directly through EK. Cons- Partner relationships seem tenuous(AK/DL EK/UA).

-At least $12k in airline spend a year. At least $25k in total CC spend annually.

-Status would be nice, but based on the information above, it doesn't appear that we'll travel enough to warrant benefits on overseas flights.

I'm leaning AA. Any glaring pros/cons I'm overlooking? Thoughts?
Thank you very much!

Previous posts:
Moving to the Middle East

No feedback on my original inquiry

I'd lean towards AA as well. With the merger you know the FF programs aren't going to drastically change at least for a year. They have decent partnerships and they can get you to NA vacation spots easily. One problem is that a lot of partner flights and partner redemptions go through BA which charges crazy YQ fees even on award seats.

I think DL is probably a distant 3rd choice. Good luck!
CoolMike is offline  
Old Sep 8, 14, 12:51 pm
  #217  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 8
Thanks for the input CoolMike!

It is tough to discount DL for the reasons given, so someone else's perspective on how DL and AA/AK compare is very reassuring.

Last edited by shawarma; Sep 9, 14 at 9:16 am
shawarma is offline  
Old Sep 10, 14, 10:33 am
  #218  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1
UA or AA better for elite status, flying ORD -> DCA?

About to start travelling for work, and wondering what the best program to join is - i've flown United and American on the same route (ORD - DCA Monday, return thursday) and slightly prefer the service on American, but i'm easy. Primary motivation is to earn elite status as soon as possible, and have the best chance of upgrades as this will be my weekly grind...

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

>> Upgrades, Lounge access (maybe), and reward redemption

2. How many miles do you usually fly each year? How many flights/sectors?
(e.g., <25000, 25000-50000, >50000 miles and <25, 25-50, >50 flights?)
Reply:

>> Assuming 45 round trips in a year, 90 segments and ~ 28,000 miles from ORD - DCA. Likely at least one trip to europe (3,940*2 miles), and one to Vancouver (1,760*2) per year as well.


3. What fare class do you usually buy?
(e.g., first, business, premium economy, economy)
Reply:

>> Economy, with some flexibility around routing / full fare vs discount economy.

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

>> Yes to airlines, no to class of service. Definitely travel for pleasure over the amounts listed above.

5. Which routes do you fly most often
(e.g., U.S. domestic, transatlantic, intra-Asia)
Reply:

>> US Domestic

6. What is your home airport?
(e.g., SFO, LHR, HKG)
Reply:

>> ORD

7. Do you have status in any FFP? What is it? How miles do you have banked in a FFP, if any?
(e.g., AA Executive Platinum, UA 1K, LAN Comodoro)
Reply:

>> No status in any program, ~120,000 AA miles, ~70,000 United Miles, ~120,000 Chase sapphire points which i've been converting to Avios for short haul flights on AA.

8. What are your preferred airlines, if any?
Reply:

>> No strong preference for UA over AA, but i'd rather be in first / business on either

Extra questions:

Anyone have advice on adding segments / extra stopovers to earn status faster on AA or UA?

If i get status on American Airlines, will I be eligible for upgrades on award tickets (i.e. the British Airways Avios tickets i've been redeeming)?

Is there a status challenge or ability to buy status on either airline I could use? I.e. I know I'll be flying at least 45 - 48 weeks next year, will any of the programs give me a quicker way to silver, gold, or platinum based on this? or $$?

thanks a bunch,
logsalen is offline  
Old Sep 11, 14, 10:24 am
  #219  
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 1
Which Program Should I join

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

2. How many miles do you usually fly each year? How many flights/sectors?
(e.g., <25000, 25000-50000, >50000 miles and <25, 25-50, >50 flights?)
Reply: I will travel weekly about 45 weeks out of the year, so 90 flights. Mostly West coast travel

3. What fare class do you usually buy?
(e.g., first, business, premium economy, economy)
Reply: Economy, through company's travel portal

4. Are you able to choose your airlines and/or class of service? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
Reply: Travel for work, cannot choose class of service, some flexibility with airlines as long as prices are close

5. Which routes do you fly most often
(e.g., U.S. domestic, transatlantic, intra-Asia)
Reply: domestic

6. What is your home airport?
(e.g., SFO, LHR, HKG)
Reply: SEA

7. Do you have status in any FFP? What is it? How miles do you have banked in a FFP, if any?
(e.g., AA Executive Platinum, UA 1K, LAN Comodoro)
Reply: I have the companion pass (earned over 200k points this year) with Southwest (used them with my previous company). Can likely get status match or challenge with most other airlines. I also will likely use SPG or Marriott for hotels

8. What are your preferred airlines, if any?
Reply: My companies preferred airlines are: United, Delta, American, may be able to use Alaskan or Virgin.
hkavery is offline  
Old Sep 11, 14, 10:51 am
  #220  
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Boise, Idaho, USA
Posts: 2
Thumbs up Newbie from Boise, Idaho in the house...Which plan, and why?

Newbie alert. My name is MrTraveler. I've looked around your site for a few hours, but am frankly a bit overwhelmed and fear some of the information I seek is outdated. I worked for 10 years for a firm that handled all bookings, payments, and collected all mileage points/status. I've been going solo for 10 years or so, and am getting jealous of people getting on planes before me, sitting in seats more comfortable than me (I'm 6' 2" tall, 36" waste, 220 points), and getting guaranteed flights and hotel rooms. Over my lifetime as a consultant, I have flown probably 750,000 miles, of which 250,000 or so were in past 10 years. I have done a lot of miles this year - see below.

1. What is most important? Free flights, upgrades, and more.

2. How many miles? At or below 25,000

3. What fare class? Direct from airline web site - economy (may change to business)

4. Can I choose airlines? Yes. Can I choose class? Must be under dollar thresholds by clients, usually economy. I travel 95% work, 5% pleasure/family. I look for flights that are nonstop from Boise whenever possible. I do not like running between flights in airports.

5. US Domestic is all I travel.

6. Home: I live near Boise, Idaho (BOI).

7. Status? Not sure I have any. I just found all my accounts for all carriers, and consolidated them. I didn't know so many airlines had merged; lost a lot of miles:

ALASKA AIRLINES MILEAGE PLAN - 43,142 miles - Silver?
AMERICAN AADVANTAGE - 25,632 - expired/lifetime.
DELTA SKYMILES - 28,722 lifetime; 4,000 this year?
SOUTHWEST RAPID REWARDS - 18,393 active?
UNITED MILEAGE PLUS - 33,997 regular?
US AIRWAYS DIVIDEND MILES - 6,295 regular

8. Preferred airlines? Alaska, Delta, Southwest, and United all go where I need to go the most, but United and Delta are very expensive, and Southwest has a lot of segments/legs to get to where I need to go. Alaska and United are easiest to get to in the Boise Airport, but it is small airport anyway. I usually travel to Seattle (short flight) & Los Angeles.

I stay at Hilton (50,596 points, silver?) and Hyatt (42,218 points, gold?) the most. I am member of Choice, IHG, Starwood, Marriot, and Stash, but find myself at Hilton more often than not.

I am debt free, and don't have or want a credit card. While I know that I can qualify for a credit card, and that I get reimbursed quickly from clients, I am debt-adverse. I use a wells fargo visa debit card for booking travel. I get reimbursed for travel (flight, hotel, car) within 5 days of the end of my travel, so that I don't play 'banker' for my clients too long.

What mileage plan / hotel plan do you recommend, and why? Looking for a blueprint for success.

I will return the favor and pay it forward.
MrTraveler is offline  
Old Sep 11, 14, 10:56 am
  #221  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 820
Originally Posted by hkavery View Post
Reply: My companies preferred airlines are: United, Delta, American, may be able to use Alaskan or Virgin.
Since you live on the west coast, I'd suggest crediting your American Airlines and Delta flights to Alaska, and United flights to United.
artemis is offline  
Old Sep 11, 14, 12:24 pm
  #222  
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: BOS/MHT/PVD/BDL
Programs: Belong to Many but No Longer Loyal to Any
Posts: 799
First off...welcome to FT!
Now, on to your question(s)
Originally Posted by MrTraveler View Post
I am debt free, and don't have or want a credit card. .
My only advice is if you're dead set on this philosophy, it's going to take you a LONG time to accumulate miles/points of any significance. One does not need to carry any balances in the credit card game. In fact it would be foolish to do so.
flyaxa is offline  
Old Sep 11, 14, 12:53 pm
  #223  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 820
If you're absolutely dead-set against having a credit card, it's even more important to concentrate your miles accumulation in as few programs as possible. I'd recommend concentrating on Alaska's Mileage Plan frequent flyer program for that reason, as you can credit all your flights on American and Delta to that program as well as your Alaska flights. Southwest and United flights can be credited to their own respective programs.
artemis is offline  
Old Sep 11, 14, 1:05 pm
  #224  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: DFW
Programs: AA 1M
Posts: 30,353
Not getting into credit cards is actually a huge loss. Have you thought of the debit card from DL through Suntrust bank?

When you say free flights, do you have any particular destinations?

DL is tough to get awards, but I hear they are good for last minute travel and they have upgrades on award flights for elites (?)
UA Fan is offline  
Old Sep 11, 14, 2:14 pm
  #225  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: SEA
Programs: AA EXP (2.5MM), Hilton Gold, Marriott Titanium
Posts: 4,857
Originally Posted by MrTraveler View Post
ALASKA AIRLINES MILEAGE PLAN - 43,142 miles - Silver?
Alaska doesn't have a Silver status level. They have MVP, MVP Gold and MVP 75k. And, all those must be qualified for annually. You earn status in one calendar year that is good for the remainder of that year and the full following calendar year. But, to keep it going, you have to re-earn it each calendar year.

Having only 25k miles a year is going to make it hard to have status on any airline. Almost all start at 25k for the lowest tier and you're unlikely to get many upgrades at the lowest tier.

If you want free flights, you need miles. Easiest way to get those is credit card sign ups but if thats ruled out then you've got a long way to go with your butt in a seat to earn the miles. Or, buy them outright, which may or may not be more expensive than just directly paying for the flight you want in the class you want.

If your flight dates/times are booked closer in and in limited dates/times, it may be hard to find award tickets. You may just be better off paying up at time of purchase to get the Economy Plus seats on AA/UA/DL or even to First class if cost diff is minimized.
mikelat is offline  

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