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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
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
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 Jul 5, 14, 4:15 am
  #106  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: EWR, SLC, SGN
Posts: 1,104
Originally Posted by dnwaldmann View Post
I'm reevaluating my strategy and would value any input offered.

1. What is most important to you in a frequent flyer program (FFP)?
Reply: Award Access is primary. But also ability to get miles from a CC program.

Here is where I'm at - for the most part I pay for tickets for biz and use awards for personal travel. I get most of my miles/points through CCs from my biz.

However, in the last year it seems like premium award availability is going the way of the dodo. The last trip I booked for Switzerland I had to look almost daily for a couple months to even find Biz Class tickets. We had plans way out there, so I was able to start looking at the max time out and finally booked shortly before the devaluation went into effect. I don't think I ever saw a Saver Award First, except maybe through some out of the way 2-hop routing (and of course it was mixed cabin because the first and last legs were regional or short hops).

I've been flying a lot of US mostly because they have a great BDL-CLT presence (my father lives in CLT and we have several business connections in the area). Also, I have a Barclay US CC that allows you to get reward tickets with a 5k mile discount. Not sure what's happening with the AA merger, but I recently got a Citi-AA CC so that at least I've got something prepared.

So, hope I said enough but not too much... Any words from the wise?
Hi dnwaldmann,

If I understand right, you don't earn too many miles flying. But you do want those miles earned flying to match up with your CC earning and give you good options for trips to Europe.

In terms of availability, I still think UA has the most options. Star Alliance is literally just bigger and has more seats available. Having been on FT awhile, are you pretty adept at searching awards and booking them?

Using AA/US on awards to Europe isn't my specialty, but it seems tougher. BA of course has fuel surcharges going through the UK. Air Berlin usually has good Y availability and no charges, but I don't know anything about their J (do they have one)? So your best choice on redeeming might be the AA or US flights TATL.

Given your location and needs, and the unique combo of flying for necessity but booking awards off of CC earn, I'd actually keep two programs separate.

I'd stick with AA/US for the paid tickets. There are lots of CCs for AA as well, so I'd get one for those tickets and mostly just build that balance slower buying those tickets. You fly in F so you don't need the status or benefits. And AA/US will give you the good direct flights you want, as long as they don't start switching to regional jets. Then on the other hand, for your expensive (in miles) award tickets in J to Europe, I'd focus the vast majority of your CC spend on United still (or on Ultimate Rewards, which can transfer to United).

One other option would be the Lufthansa card. If you spend enough to rack up some LH miles, maybe they have award access to LX, or at least better LH access? I'm not sure of this, but it's worth reading up on.
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Old Jul 5, 14, 4:26 am
  #107  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: EWR, SLC, SGN
Posts: 1,104
Originally Posted by dkatvt View Post
Hi all, Thanks for any help in advance.

I travel infrequently enough that I'll never earn status on an airline and luckily that's unimportant to me. What I'd like to know is, is there any one program I can use to aggregate miles from such variable travel?

I recently looked into AS since it appears that I can attribute both DL and AA miles to the same program (maybe US later?) and also transfer SPG points there as well. Is this a reasonable strategy? I doubt I'll ever travel AA or DL enough to book awards based on miles flown alone. But if that trickle of miles could be consolidated somewhere, it may make a difference. I also occasionally rent a car (2x a year) so if those rewards could go to a FFP, that may help.

My question for you fine folks is, what is my best strategy for aggregation?
Hi Dkatvt,

AS isn't a bad choice. But with their escalating fight with DL, personally I think they won't be keeping that partnership too long. But who knows I guess. One thing to consider with them though is that booking int'l awards, which you list as a priority, they do not allow multiple partners on a single ticket. I'm new to AS myself, having mostly been doing UA and AA a little, so I don't know if I'm explaining that right. But you should read a little in the Alaska forum, and consider that from a smaller airport, you might have to position to DC to make use of an award on a partner, or to NYC/ORD for Cathay awards, etc.

I think UA is pretty good for award availability, and the Chase cards all you to keep building up and you can supplement your 10-20k a year.

If you credit straight to AA, their miles are pretty easy to earn right now with cards, so you could also easily earn many miles on AA and your flying just supplement the CC earn.

I'd stick with UA and Chase, unless you want to start doing CCs.
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Old Jul 5, 14, 6:38 am
  #108  
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: BOS/BDL
Programs: MileagePlus Club, Amex Platinum, AAdvantage, SkyMiles
Posts: 232
Originally Posted by maverick17 View Post
In terms of availability, I still think UA has the most options. Star Alliance is literally just bigger and has more seats available. Having been on FT awhile, are you pretty adept at searching awards and booking them?
Having done quite a bit of searching, that is pretty much my conclusion as well. I guess I just need to get used to the "new normal" of devalued miles and less availability. I do at least have the Chase Club CC for my business, so I get a 50% bonus on most of the CC miles I earn.

I think I'm pretty adept at searching for tickets. The CO/UA award search tool is one of the best in the business in terms of design, but I've noticed the execution is not always on, i.e. not showing availability of Saver awards on the Calendar, but showing up in the list if you pick that day. I've also installed GreaseMonkey and use the Easy United One Way Award Search Tool script by fellow FT user.

Originally Posted by maverick17 View Post
One other option would be the Lufthansa card. If you spend enough to rack up some LH miles, maybe they have award access to LX, or at least better LH access? I'm not sure of this, but it's worth reading up on.
I will look into that. I tried to do some award searching through LH but even though I have a Miles and More account through Swiss I guess I need a separate one for LH.

Thanks for taking the time to respond, and all the tips you provided.
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Old Jul 6, 14, 5:52 am
  #109  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: EWR, SLC, SGN
Posts: 1,104
Originally Posted by dnwaldmann View Post

I think I'm pretty adept at searching for tickets. The CO/UA award search tool is one of the best in the business in terms of design, but I've noticed the execution is not always on, i.e. not showing availability of Saver awards on the Calendar, but showing up in the list if you pick that day. I've also installed GreaseMonkey and use the Easy United One Way Award Search Tool script by fellow FT user.
Sounds like you know your stuff pretty good. I noticed you had more posts on FT than many of the people who post in here. But just thought I'd ask to be sure since it's the information desk area.
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Old Jul 6, 14, 7:54 am
  #110  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Minneapolis: DL DM charter 2.3MM
Programs: A3*Gold, SPG Plat, HyattDiamond, MarriottPP, LHW exAccess, ICI, Raffles Amb, NW PE MM, TWA Gold MM
Posts: 98,977
Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
Welcome (again)
Your best ffp can be dependant on where you live medium or long term. CC earn is very dependant on where you live - where you will spend.

For upgrades the general rule is you can only upgrade a flight marketed (flight number) and operated (metal) by the airline of your freq flyer programme (no codeshares) with your airlines upgrade instrument (e.g. SWU). All subject to the t&c's of your FFP and your paid ticket. Low cost tickets are often not eligible for upgrades.
However as is the way with FFP's there are some upgrade exceptions
- on AA/BA/IB with higher priced economy fares using AA/BA/IB upgrade instruments
- on some BA tickets with Asia Miles

As you seem to be a OW flyer have a look here http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/onewo...help-here.html
I would disagree with your general rule.

This is true for free elite upgrades in general, with partner elites being at the bottom of the list such as DL/AS (Hawaii flights excluded), or AF/KLM elites on DL.

However, there is a SkyTeam upgrade program to use miles on participating partners such as KE, although this requires full fares. DL miles and SWUs/GUCs can be used to upgrade on AF and KLM flights.

In *A, UA paper SWUs can be used for day of departure upgrades on LH.
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Old Jul 6, 14, 8:19 am
  #111  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Austin, TX
Programs: Southwest, Delta, Hyatt & IHG
Posts: 125
Hello,
My family has used United primarily for air travel (domestic & international), until I received the SW CC in April of last year. SW will most likely be used primarily for domestic travel, but I would like to have a back up plan. Since the devaluation of FF programs lately, I am seeking feedback regarding carriers that can be used both domestic & international.

Here is the situation: International travel at least once a year will be HKG & Toronto. In the next 5 years, travel to Europe, particularly Germany. I am considering getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred CC, once they run a good special for it.


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: Good award redemption rates & better award access


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:
Less than 25000, but no more than 35K


3. What fare class do you usually buy?
(e.g., 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: Pleasure, any airline can be considered


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


6. What is your home airport?
(e.g., SFO, LHR, HKG)
Reply: AUS, primarily (DFW/IAH/HOU, could be option for good rate)


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. Currently, we have 50K miles with United, 15 miles with AA & 30 miles with DL.


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


Also, I mainly earn points with my credit card rather than flying on SW.
I spend around 20K a year.

Thanks for any help!
-Sandra
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Old Jul 7, 14, 7:44 pm
  #112  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Abu Dhabi
Programs: AA,UA,DL,EY
Posts: 6
I am moving from the U.S. to Abu Dhabi for work and will be traveling significantly more than I do now (for both work and leisure). I'd love to get advice from forum members on what plan(s) to join and how to make the most of my travel. I will fly mostly business on EY for work about 2-3x a year (AUH-JFK-AUH). The rest will be leisure travel all over the place, primarily in economy if/when I am paying for it myself. Here's my information:

1. What is most important to you in a frequent flyer program (FFP)?
Opportunities for complimentary or relatively low-cost upgrades to business (for sleeping) or economy-plus (for leg room); priority services (reduced waiting time in lines); award redemption; lounge access on long layovers.

2. How many miles do you usually fly each year? How many flights/sectors?
This is a guess, but I imagine about 50,000 to 80,000 miles/year on about 20 to 30 segments. Roughly half in business (EY), half in economy (any).

3. What fare class do you usually buy?
Economy for personal, business for work.

4. Are you able to choose your airlines and/or class of service? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
For work, I will be on EY. For pleasure, I can choose.

5. Which routes do you fly most often?
AUH-JFK for work, plus AUH-X-DTW for the holidays on my own dime. For pleasure, I plan to hit a variety of destinations all over Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and to a lesser extent Africa over the next few years.

6. What is your home airport?
AUH

7. Do you have status in any FFP? What is it? How miles do you have banked in a FFP, if any?
No current status. I have about 75,000 in AA and about 25,000 in DL and EY.

8. What are your preferred airlines, if any?
No strong preferred airline, but I highly value leg room, competitive prices, easy connections and boarding/security procedures, and, when possible, the ability to get into business class and lie down to sleep on long flights.

I have done some initial research, and the dilemma I seem to be facing is that while I will be earning lots of miles and status on EY for work, EY has a relatively small set of destinations in Europe and Asia, and its economy prices are generally not competitive outside of the Middle East. OneWorld/QR seems to be much better suited for long-distance destinations - except for Europe - though it would require often connecting in DOH, a short hop from AUH. For Europe from AUH, SkyTeam/KL seems the best. (Star Alliance/TK also has a lot of options, but the daily TK AUH-IST flight departs at 3:40 a.m., which I think may be the worst of all possible times.) So I feel like there's no obvious good choice here, but I hope the experts here can point me toward a strategy I am missing as a relative newbie...

Thanks in advance for your advice!

Last edited by PC79; Jul 8, 14 at 8:36 am
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Old Jul 7, 14, 10:11 pm
  #113  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 1
How About a Combination of Points?

A bit new to this thing too, so far I've accumulated quite a bit of Aeroplan points, and I transferred my Avion to Avios. Which might have been a mistake in hindsight (Should have maybe done AA points... no fuel charges really except with BA).

Avios covers me pretty much for Asia and South America short trips and Aeroplan for longer trips.

I've yet to find a points program that works well in Africa though. For intercontinental travel. Any suggestions? I'm looking for low fuel surcharges.

[redacted]

Last edited by aBroadAbroad; Jul 7, 14 at 10:46 pm Reason: Off-topic info and solicitation removed
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Old Jul 9, 14, 5:18 am
  #114  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Programs: SKYPASS, LH
Posts: 2
Hi everyone! A bit of a newbie to the FFP scene as I've only recently been able to get a lot more travel under my belt having spent the last 15 years on a little island in the South Pacific so just looking to get some advice now that I've relocated to Europe.

1. What is most important to you in a frequent flyer program (FFP)?
Good award redemption rates, better award access, and upgrades would be nice but I don't know if I'll be racking up all that many miles.


2. How many miles do you usually fly each year? How many flights/sectors?
Right now <25000. I have family and friends back in Fiji so will be looking at making a Europe-Oceania roundtrip once a year or at least every two years depending...then shorter trips throughout the year...


3. What fare class do you usually buy?
Economy

4. Are you able to choose your airlines and/or class of service? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
I get to choose and it's 90% pleasure.

5. Which routes do you fly most often
Like I said will be doing the Europe-Fiji/Oceania route, and then probably mostly short trips within Europe, and Europe-S.E.Asia holidays

6. What is your home airport?
VIE

7. Do you have status in any FFP? What is it? How miles do you have banked in a FFP, if any?
I currently have 30,000 miles in my Korean Air SKYPASS account and 500 in a Miles & More Account.

8. What are your preferred airlines, if any?
I love Korean Air but I'm happy to try and airline as long it doesn't have a bad reputation and can get me where I want to go.

I'm wondering what FFP the more experienced frequent travellers might be able to recommend considering my unusual requirements. Was looking at joining one of the OWE airlines to sort of cover all my bases and wasn't sure if I should join AB because it's close to my home base or Qantas considering the Oceania option and because my mother is also in the Qantas FFP and we could maybe transfer points..?
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Old Jul 9, 14, 6:46 pm
  #115  
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: San Jose
Programs: Delta PM. SPG Platinum. Hyatt Diamond. National Exec. Southwest A+ & CP.
Posts: 194
Originally Posted by maverick17 View Post
Hi Canon. I'm not a segment flyer, but it seems like you have done pretty well to mostly fly SJC-LAX and get a decent account balance in two programs. The only thing I would be able to add is to look into Alaska, as they fly a lot to SJC from what I understand, and they do treat their members pretty well and are trying to grow a little to keep up with DL attacking their hub so they're adding more routes. They have good award use on CX, EK, and some others too so their miles are quite valuable right now.

Thanks Maverick.

I was looking at Alaska but unfortunately they don't do direct, a 7 AM flight lands in LAX after two layovers at 12 PM


I'm struggling with either Delta or sticking with Southwest. I like how Delta has better product and true international travel but I'm weary of their low award availability.
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Old Jul 11, 14, 12:06 am
  #116  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 152
1) Status (Lounge Access, Baggage Allowance)
2) 25-50k
3) Economy
4) Yes, Pleasure
5) Internal: Australia, Europe, UK
International: Australia to Europe, Australia to Asia
6) Perth, Australia
7) No Status
8) Had been collecting BA Avios/TP before emigrating to Australia (only 1 left now!), don't know if should continue or credit elsewhere as end of year has cleared TP's, have up and coming flights on Qatar, BA, Qantas & Qantaslink

Last edited by FromTheRail; Jul 11, 14 at 2:32 am
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Old Jul 11, 14, 3:16 am
  #117  
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Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: MEL CHC
Posts: 18,842
Originally Posted by FromTheRail View Post
...8) Had been collecting BA Avios/TP before emigrating to Australia (only 1 left now!), don't know if should continue or credit elsewhere as end of year has cleared TP's, have up and coming flights on Qatar, BA, Qantas & Qantaslink
For OW look here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/onewo...help-here.html
I would tend to stay with BA. But before would not let Aussies join. So you may need to keep a UK address
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Old Jul 13, 14, 11:15 am
  #118  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: beloved SUB
Programs: Garuda, SQ KF, Le Club, SPG, Marriott Rewards, HHonors
Posts: 25
Hey all,
need help to determine my FFP of choice...
(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 award redemption rates, and especially, easier to reach the sufficient miles needed
(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: <25000, a regional flyer which does international twice a year
(3) What types of fares do you usually buy ?
(First, Business, Premium economy, Economy, cheapest)
Reply: Cheapest, or business in some cases
(4) Can you choose your airlines and/or class of service? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
Reply: Will be flying mostly on SE Asian carriers (SQ/GA)
(5) Which routes do you fly most often
(US Domestic, Transpacific, Kangaroo, in Asia etc)
Reply: Intra Asia, Transpacific would be rare (annually)
(6) What is your home airport?
(SFO, SCL, London LHR, HKG, Singapore SIN etc.)
Reply: SUB (for those who does not know, Juanda In'tl Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia)
(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: Garuda Miles Blue, KF blue
(8) Preferred Airlines
Reply: SQ/GA/CX/CI, as they all fly daily to SUB and has decent product

Help would be appreciated guys

Last edited by egondo; Jul 13, 14 at 11:16 am Reason: Adding key points
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Old Jul 14, 14, 3:45 am
  #119  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 1
Hi everyone, new to Flyertalk here. Have been flying for a few years, and have been accumulating some miles on Air China and China Southern Airlines. I initially chose these two because I live in China, and didn't really know much about FF programs. Now I will be living in the US, and I am wondering whether it would be a good idea to perhaps switch over to the FF programs of a US airline.

1. What is most important to you in a frequent flyer program (FFP)?
Reply: I would love to get the occasional free flight between Beijing and the US or flights within the US.

2. How many miles do you usually fly each year? How many flights/sectors?
Reply: Most years it will be less than 25000.

3. What fare class do you usually buy?
Reply:Economy

4. Are you able to choose your airlines and/or class of service? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
Reply:I can choose. I do have the Chase Freedom card, and am planning to apply for the Sapphire Preferred, so maybe a slight preference towards UA, but am flexible if there are valid reasons.

5. Which routes do you fly most often
(e.g., U.S. domestic, transatlantic, intra-Asia)
Reply: Mostly between Beijing and Detroit once a year, with the occasional work/vacation travel within the US.

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

7. Do you have status in any FFP? What is it? How miles do you have banked in a FFP, if any?
Reply: I have about 47,000 km in Air China PhoenixMiles and 27,000 in China Southern Skypearl. No status.

8. What are your preferred airlines, if any?
Reply: As mentioned above slight preference towards UA, but can change my mind.

Thank you so much for your help!

Last edited by Ulio; Jul 14, 14 at 3:55 am
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Old Jul 15, 14, 1:38 am
  #120  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 1
Hi everyone, also new here. Long time reader and info gatherer but first time poster. Currently *A Silver but 7/8 way to G with AKL-LAX then LAX-AMS flight in the next couple months so will cross over. Am relocating to the US in August and looking to find out whether best to stick with AirNZ or switch to another *A carrier. I see Aegean have good earning thresholds but UA will be local carrier. Would love some advice! Thanks in advanced!

1. What is most important to you in a frequent flyer program (FFP)?
Reply: Lounge access mainly, then points to be used on other flights is a plus - with AirNZ AP can use as dollars which is nice.


2. How many miles do you usually fly each year? How many flights/sectors?
Reply: up to 50k, 12k for return NZ-US and do that twice a year plus to Europe and domestic travel.

3. What fare class do you usually buy?
Reply: Economy(PE if work)

4. Are you able to choose your airlines and/or class of service? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
Reply: Yes, prefer *A for points but open to any. Have preferred UA because of *A coverage in the past.

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

6. What is your home airport?
(e.g., SFO, LHR, HKG)
Reply: AKL for next month and then back to LAX.

7. Do you have status in any FFP? What is it? How miles do you have banked in a FFP, if any?
Reply: *A Silver with AirNZ but will be gold by Oct with 800/950 status points.

8. What are your preferred airlines, if any?
Reply: Not fussed. Have stuck to *A in the past because of FFP already so AirNZ and UA. Prefer AirNZ as always feels like home when onboard.
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