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Which Frequent Flyer Program to Join? Help Is Here!

Old May 24, 14, 1:34 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: Mwenenzi
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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Which Frequent Flyer Program to Join? Help Is Here!

Old Mar 24, 14, 4:56 am
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Look here http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/infor...help-here.html
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Old Mar 24, 14, 5:04 am
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Originally Posted by HatAndJacket
I'd say Alaska Airlines is your best option, but also look into AA and UA.
Just keep in mind the UA spending requirement that now comes along with elite status. Although the poster is not after elite status, if he's going to fly 25K a year it's going to provide things like free baggage and early boarding (which assures overhead space), so UA may not be the place to go unless you can match the spend with the flight miles. Add in that if he does reach 50K a year UA only awards 50% bonus miles while AA awards 100% bonus miles. If his target is free travel, every mile counts.

I'm not up on Alaska tiers so won't comment there.

Tom in Seoul
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Old Mar 24, 14, 6:55 am
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Bristol, UK
Posts: 31
Choosing A Frequent Flier Program for UK -> Vietnam


We live in the UK and have family in Vietnam (SGN), so generally visit 1-2 times a year. As we have just had our second child, and our first has just hit 2 years so we are now paying almost a full fare for her, I thought it was high time to investigate how we can cut down our spending on airlines with frequent flier programs.

I've been reading, making spreadsheets and scheming for a week or so based on posts here and on headforpoints.com and while it's all been really helpful I'm beginning to find our situation is a bit too specific to base decisions off general advice on which program is best so I thought I'd see if anyone could help clarify my thinking.

The biggest questions are:
- Am I crazy to plan to use points for economy long haul, given we would unlikely ever be able to afford the points for business with kids? Does it make more sense to earn points on the flights to SGN and spend them on EU/Asia short hauls / a blowout holiday to US via Air Lingus or Caribbean via Iberia?
- Air France, KLM + Vietnam Airlines are very fast/convenient for SGN, especially as we could fly from our home airport in Bristol (BRS). Don't know about VN's service but last flight on AF staff gave us a free seat for our (rather tall) infant, moving another passenger, and free champagne in economy so we were a bit starstruck. Have a trip with VN in May so will see how they are - but experience on domestic flights suggest not great!
- Otherwise FlyingBlue not so good for European holidays and Avios are easier to earn in the UK

Generating Points In UK
We've had a Lloyds Avios card for years and enjoyed the reward flight savers in Europe. I run a small business and can see that moving biz spending onto an Amex business card, plus using either a Gold card at home or BA Premium + Clubcard could generate 120-180,000 Avios a year, not including occasional MR / Clubcard transfer bonuses.

Obviously the Amex could still generate FB points and get transfer bonuses but things like the 2-4-1 voucher and tesco clubcard earnings would not be available. Perhaps we could earn 120k MR and use a transfer bonus to FB

Earning Miles On Paid Tickets
We normally buy the cheapest economy tickets we can find. Before the kids were born and when we were poorer we'd even buy flights like LHR-BOM-BKK then get an airasia or similar flight to save a bit here or there. I could be persuaded to pay for flexible tickets to get 100% points if I felt I'd get more value back elsewhere.

Given the number of hubs between the two countries we have the choice of flying Star, OneWorld or Skyteam airlines, or independents like Etihad + Emirates.

Price wise, we have bought AF, Qatar, Gulf (urgh), Emirates, Singapore, Malaysia, Etihad or as above, a cheap return to BKK/KUL/SIN and a low cost carrier so no allegiance to one route. As a result we have also tacked on many holidays/stopovers in South East Asia when visiting family and while we love it, exploring HKG / Taiwan etc might be interesting for a change if we went for BA/Cathay. With young children doing at least one leg direct without a stopover appeals more too.

It does seem that many of the Oneworld partners won't grant any miles if we are in the cheapest Economy, while flying AF is cheaper than BA and I believe VN will also generate up to 100% in Economy (though only 25% for lowest fares). I must confess I haven't checked Star Alliance - Turkish and Air China are cheap but slow ways to get there, Singapore + Thai nice and direct but generally more than we normally pay.

Standard Rewards: Relative Costs
Once second child is two four tickets to VN at current rates will cost 2000-3000, depending on time of year and availability.

Cathay LHR- SGN is 75000 miles in Economy, 308 in taxes : 4 tickets would cost 300k points + 1200ish, saving 600 in low season, 1600 at peak or 0.2p / 0.5p mile respectively

AF LHR-SGN or KLM BRS-SGN is 80000 miles Economy, 268 in taxes : 4 tickets would cost 320k points + 1000 ish, saving 878 / 1878 low vs peak or .3p / .6p mile

Promotional Rewards
BA we could use a 2-4-1 but only on direct flights to BKK, SIN, HKG not on the connection to SGN meaning we need an additional paid ticket, plus higher fees for flying BA vs Cathay - but the bonus is effectively guaranteed

AF have 'promo' reward flights resulting in a 25-50% reduction in miles. As these vary at different times of year we couldn't be sure of our destination being available, but given we could easily fly to HKG, SIN, BKK or KUL and transfer

Other practical considerations
BA let you pool points across a family while Flying Blue don't. I can't remember why I thought we might need to but that seemed to be an issue late last night!
Flying VN domestically would be a cheap way of ensuring our FB miles don't expire and is pretty certain each year
In a response to someone else on here I saw someone state that 'if you are mainly flying economy AA may be a better choice than Avios' for collecting miles - but there was no explanation of why. Any ideas?

If we earnt on the long haul and spent on short haul, as well as Reward Savers Cathay taxes are pretty low for eg SGN to HKG/TPE/PVG or even NRT for burning avios on short haul, though Malaysia fees around SEA are more expensive than local low cost carriers (though free domestically).
I haven't done equivalent calculations for FlyingBlue partners in the region (are there any?)

I am very tall so like big seats in economy!

Finally - given the high taxes we will always face, does it make sense to earn points for hotels instead of airlines? VN hotels can be very cheap so on the face of it perhaps not huge savings - but the luxury ones can be very nice treats indeed.
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Old Mar 24, 14, 8:17 pm
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namdas Welcome to the forum
I would be looking at fares to a bigger city, like SIN, KUL or HKG then a separate tickets to SGN on who ever is cheapest/best schedule.

You can only get awards if you have miles/avios/points. From your post you seem to be more of a frequent spender (converting to ff miles) rather than a frequent flyer.

AA tend to have the cheapest long haul awards, if you can avoid BA (best earn/burn). AA charge cash surcharges on BA flights, but not other airlines. BA has high cash surcharges on award flights. Do not confuse real taxes with carrier imposed surcharges. But you are getting avios from non flying activities. Also look at IB avios. You can move BA avois to IB avois IIRC. Some here have reported awards from IB are better value.

Look and ask here http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/infor...help-here.html

Edit. Thread merged

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Mar 24, 14 at 9:49 pm
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Old Mar 26, 14, 2:21 pm
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: BCN Spain
Programs: AF P, BA G, A3 *G, EK G
Posts: 73
(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:Upgrades, Lounge, Priority Services
(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:300k-400k 30-50
(3) What types of fares do you usually buy ?
(First, Business, Premium economy, Economy, cheapest)
(4) Can you choose your airlines and/or class of service? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
Reply:No Choice 90% Work
(5) Which routes do you fly most often
(US Domestic, Transpacific, Kangaroo, in Asia etc)
Reply:Transcontinental Euro-Asia
(6) What is your home airport?
(SFO, SCL, London LHR, HKG, Singapore SIN etc.)
Reply: CDG
(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:None Yet
(8) Preferred Airlines
Reply:Air France, Cathay, British

My problem is I really like AF and flyingblue for no explicable reason but can not seem to find useful ways to earn extra miles to boost my speed of status Living here in france.

want2beaqui is offline  
Old Mar 26, 14, 6:41 pm
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 2
This thread is exactly what I need! I'm looking for some help finding a new home airline and FFP. Starting this summer, my family is relocating to Tokyo for my wife's work (2 adults + 2 toddlers). I'll be flying regularly between Tokyo (NRT) and Seattle (SEA) - probably 6 to 8 round trips a year. I'm hoping to find a good program for the back and forth flights to 1) get out of coach if possible and 2) earn some award travel to explore Japan and Asia.

(1) What is most important to you in a FFP?
Reply: Access to upgrades on direct NRT->SEA flights is my #1 priority, then good award redemptions/partners for travel in Japan and around Asia is #2 priority.

Ideally, I'd also like to find a FFP that does some sort of status challenge or some other way to get status quickly so I can up my status quickly.

(2) How many miles do you usually fly each year & in what class? How many flights/sectors?
Reply: >50k miles all on coach fares, <25 flights

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

(4) Can you choose your airlines and/or class of service? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
Reply: airlines: yes, class of service: no (see #3!). Traveling for work.

(5) Which routes do you fly most often
Reply: Transpacific, in Asia

(6) What is your home airport?
Reply: NRT

(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: No current status, miles banked on UA and AA

(8) Preferred Airlines
Reply: Lately it's been Southwest, but that's not going to help me now!

I'm looking forward to some suggestions. Thanks in advance!
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Old Mar 27, 14, 5:02 am
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1
Smile Advise please on FF/Status points

My question/s only relate to gaining the most in points and status points.

I have for all my life mainly flown and have been a member with Qantas FF and I am also a Life member of the Qantas Club so I have never really had to come to terms with what faces me now.( I do also fly ANZ & SIA) but now I figure it is time for me to really put change and I hope some with far more experience than me can guide me a little please

I have decided to “jump” airlines alliances and therefore make Star Alliance my “preferred airlines”.

I am also a Gold Member with Air New Zealand and in a matter of weeks will be Gold Plus and that is where my problems begins as I am not really sure what to do even down to the basics of booking new flights ( as ANZ do not fly to all the places I need to go to) and I would appreciate any help and guidance

I have just registered with Virgin Australia in Velocity, I did this because I will be flying DELTA LAX-FLL return on first/business class and I can gain points with Virgin.

I am also about to book Business class flight MEL-SYD return with Virgin Australia and so my question is..
As I am very much elevated in the ANZ program albeit I will also be gold plus with them in the Star Alliance program
Do I book this using my Air New Zealand number ( always)or my new Virgin number?

When I book ANY flight do I continue to use ANZ as my base membership or do I use, say Virgin and I can “double dip” by using one and getting the points also on the other.
thanks in advance
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Old Mar 28, 14, 3:31 am
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Virgin Australia is not in an alliance, but you can earn on various partners.
You cannot double dip and earn to two programs.

Where are you based (I am assuming Australia?) and what routes do you usually fly?
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Old Mar 28, 14, 5:05 am
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dropanchor Welcome to the forum

Look here

With QF life club you can look elsewhere if you want to. AA is the default choice in the OneWorld Alliance. Better earn/burn compared to QF

Air NZ's FFP is one on the poorest FPP's. For Star Alliance you are better with UA. Aegean is also popular with non USA people

But the best FFP's for you depends on your objectives and travel pattern. A few flights on 1 airline does not make a freq flyer
You cannot double dip.
You can get ff miles/points on an airline freq flyer partners if an eligible flight. For example put your VA freq flyer number into an Air NZ reservation. But some cheap and not so cheap Air NZ flights are non earning.
Alaska is a good FFP with a wide range of partners including Delta. http://www.alaskaair.com/content/mil...ePlan-partners

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Mar 28, 14 at 5:12 am
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Old Mar 28, 14, 9:59 pm
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 20
Moving- Change Alliance?

Hi All- need some advice please.

I am moving next week from Toronto to Miami Florida.
Currently an E50k with Air Canada. When flying within the US I have obviously always used United to help earn status miles. I have never been unhappy with their service and like the perks of free economy plus etc. Food is not up to par of AC but I dont think any of the American carriers are.

Some of my colleagues who also travel a lot, some more than me, say I should switch to OneWorld and AA. I know Miami is a hub for AA but just have never liked their product the few times I have flow (Wow- those MD 80's no comment).

Will be travelling to the following this year (RT);
US-8 domestic flights
Canada- 2
UK- 1 (biz)
UAE- 1 (biz)
Russia- 1 (biz)
Brazil/ Argentina- 1 (biz)
China- 1 (biz)

Would AA status match? I know United prob wont because it is also *A.

Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated. Shame I am going to lose 20 credits with AC but oh well.
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Old Mar 28, 14, 10:49 pm
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Originally Posted by Perrpis
(Wow- those MD 80's no comment).
I rather like the MD80. It's been a pretty reliable plane for me on AA the last 13 years since I made them my primary carrier. Right now there are more 737-800s than MD80s as the retirement plan continues. They all have power ports, too, and most of them have wi-fi. We don't see any MD80s out of SFO these days as the phase-out continues.

Would AA status match?
Probably not. We have entire threads on the AA forum devoted to that topic and I can't recall anyone posting about a successful status match from Air Canada. If you were a UA 1K you might stand a chance.

AA will likely offer you a paid challenge involving earning a certain amount of points in a fixed period. Points are very different than miles.

When you book an AA flight or AA codeshare, you'll always earn 100% miles plus your elite bonus. If you book an AA partner, such as Qantas or Cathay, you have to be very careful as partner flights can accrue no miles, 30%, 50%, or even 100%. Check the partners page as some of your routes would involve partners.

If you want to check out AA meals, you can look in my AA gallery linked below with lots of food photos.
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Old Mar 29, 14, 4:48 am
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Look and ask here http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/infor...help-here.html and here http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/onewo...help-here.html
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Old Apr 10, 14, 2:53 pm
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 3
mileage program questions (USA to australia/new zealand)

hi everyone,

I am a frequent traveler that has never signed up for a program, I know foolish me.

(Apologies if I am in the wrong discussion section, I am trying to familiarize myself with this site and become a longterm member )

I will be going to Australia this year, and was wondering which program would benefit me the best, since as I'm researching, it appears that every airline has their OWN mileage program, but the points earned with one airline can be pass between other airlines that are within the SAME alliance?.

Right now I am thinking of signing up for a Star airline allience program. (Air NewZealand).

I've done a fair amount of research (google / here / blogs) and I cannot seem to figure out which is the best frequent flyer program, for me, since they all tend to have certain pros and cons (how often I fly, which airlines I use the most, and which miles expire the fastest, etc etc)

My travel background / other notes:

I always try to fly coach (cheaper seats the best)

I live in the Mid-West USA
I take 1 big international trip per year (International trip can be anywhere, USA -> ASIA or USA -> South American or USA -> Europe)
1 smaller state-side trip per year

I have flown on Cathay Pacficic, Japan Airways, Aer Lingus, Delta, Spirit, (alot of different ones) to get a feel of which are the best (to me).

When flying to Asia, I tend to fall onto JAL (japan airways) or Singapore Air
When flying to Europe, AerLingus or Luftsana

For my trip to Australia this summer, I am leaning towards this route:
ORD -> LAX -> AKL -> BNE

Chicago to Brisbane via NZ
Airlines Delta, NewZealand

Random Questions:

1) Can I hold airline mileage programs across different alliances?
2) Can I move my points between alliances? Or only between airlines within the same alliance?
3) Which program best fits 'cheap coach seats'?
4) Any advice you would like to give.

thank you for your time

Some trips i've missed out on for points.
Chicago -> Tokyo -> Chicago
Chicago -> HongKong -> Manila -> Singapore -> Bangkok -> Hongkong -> Chicago
Chicago -> London -> Amsterdam -> Athens -> Madrid -> Chicago

lots of points I could be using

Last edited by cattboy; Apr 10, 14 at 3:01 pm
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Old Apr 10, 14, 8:45 pm
Posting Legend, Moderator, Manufactured Spending
Join Date: May 2002
Location: YEG
Programs: HH Silver
Posts: 56,224
Welcome to FT, cattboy!

As a volunteer moderator I've relocated your general query from the more specific Mileage Run Discussion Forum to a relatively new and more general forum designed for exactly these types of questions from new members.

Good luck and happy travels!

Mileage Run Forum Moderator
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Old Apr 10, 14, 9:04 pm
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cattboy Welcome to the forum

Look and ask here http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/infor...help-here.html

Having an ffp with 1 airline in each of alliances' is a good idea. But be aware of miles expiry. Be careful not to spend $ on airfare just to get miles which you may or may not use.

Do not sign up for Air New Zealand's freq flyer programme. Its unbelievably bad. As Air NZ is in Star Alliance and you live in the USA United Airlines is the ffp default choice. However some low priced Air NZ fares earn nil miles/points with many ffp’s (including Air NZ’s). You need to find out the booking class. A letter from A to Z. It will not be Y full economy) booking class.

AA is the defualt choice for OneWorld airlines trips if you live in USA. But is not the best for everyone.

US airways (OneWorld) allow you to claim miles for flights taken up to 6 months before you join US. AA & US have merged. The ffp's will merge some time to be AA miles.
When is your trip down under? A quirk of the US AA merger is that Air NZ is a US partner airline until June 29. So you end up with AA miles for a trip on Air NZ (depends on booking class).

Alaska is a good fpp, with many partner's, including Delta http://www.alaskaair.com/content/mil...-overview.aspx

Effectively you cannot move miles from 1 ffp to another ffp. But if you fly a partner airline you may be able to put miles to your ffp. Example flying Air NZ subject to ticket t&c's the miles could be put to your United Airline ffp account.

Edit : thread was seperate but now merged

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Apr 11, 14 at 6:28 pm
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