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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 16, 18, 3:40 am   -   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 Feb 11, 14, 1:45 am
  #1  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
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Which Frequent Flyer Program to Join? Help Is Here!

A number of threads have been started by members asking for guidance on which frequent flyer mileage program they should join.

After emails with the moderators, in order to help users, we have started this thread to allow people to post their requests for information here and to allow other people to offer assistance-advice-opinion.
List of frequent flyer programs from Wikipedia

Best Frequent Flyer Program for you?
The answer to this question depends very much on your personal travel profile and objectives.
- what is your definition of best?
- do you value miles/points (or equivalent) for redemption over gaining status?
- do you fly enough to gain any meaningful status?
- what do you want to use the miles/points for (award, upgrade, hotels, what ever)?
- what sort of flight award is of interest (destination, class of travel)?
- are you interested in topping up by paying cash for miles?
- which airline and where do you normally fly?
- are you primarily a leisure or business traveller?
- where do you live?
- do you have other ways of earning points in the various programs, e.g. credit cards, shopping, etc,?
- etc, etc, etc
(above copied in part from a post by dunk)

There is a big difference between a frequent flyer and a frequent spender getting frequent flyer miles from a credit card. For questions about which is the best credit card to sign up for, to get frequent flyer miles, please do not post here, but refer to other threads on this topic. Credit Card Programs click this link and Which Forums Relate to Credit Card Topics?

Similar sticky threads
If you are sure a Star Alliance or OneWorld Alliance or Skyteam airline FFP is for you, please post in those forums, as more Star/OW/Sky experienced people are likely to answer your question.
Star Alliance forum http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/star-...post-here.html
OneWorld Alliance forum http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/onewo...help-here.html
Skyteam Alliance forum http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/skyte...i-sign-up.html

Questions
For members asking for information, to help people to assist you, can you please provide:
(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:
(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:
(3) What types of fares do you usually buy ?
(First, Business, Premium economy, Economy, cheapest)
Reply:
(4) Can you choose your airlines and/or class of service? Airline most flown? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
Reply:
(5) Which routes and airlines do you fly most often
(US Domestic, Transpacific, Kangaroo, in Asia etc)
Reply:
(6) What is your home airport?
(SFO, SCL, London LHR, HKG, Singapore SIN etc.)
Reply:
(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:
(8) Preferred Airlines
Reply:

Major airline alliances are
www.staralliance.com web site and the Flyertalk forum Star Alliance
www.oneworld.com web site and the Flyertalk forum OneWorld Alliance
www.skyteam.com web site and the Flyertalk forum Skyteam
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Last edited by Mwenenzi; Oct 4, 16 at 11:04 pm
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Old Feb 11, 14, 1:46 am
  #2  
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Frequent Flyer Programs (FFP) are not equal.
1 (one) mile/point of FFP’s are not equal (just like currencies)
Each airline FFP can have different benefits from status.
Each airline FFP has different rules for earning and retaining status.
Each airline FFP has different rules for earning miles/points.
Each airline FFP has different rules to stop miles/points from expiring.
Each airline FFP has different rules for using (burning) those miles/points for awards and different copay $$ fees.
Each airline FFP has different rules for upgrades & different copay $$ fees.
Each airline FFP has different rules for lounge access (own & other airlines)

Useful summary Overview of Frequent Flyer Programs by FLYGVA

From a post on 2 Feb 2013
Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
< snip>
To get your feet wet, start by reading the sticky threads in this and other forums. What you need to do is look at your flying (and credit card, if applicable) patterns and preferences, then pick a program that works best for you. While miles/points aren't interchangeable, you can usually use one airline's miles/points for redemptions on that airline's partners - either in the same alliance or in some cases unaligned partners - or for non-flying activities. Each airline has different "earning and burning" characteristics - how miles/points are earned and used, and you'll need to investigate these carefully, as the differences can be significant and expensive (or beneficial) to you depending on your choices.

One important thing to note is that miles/points earning and redemption are only a part of the whole FF business. A big factor in choosing your plan preferences is whether you'd fly enough with your chosen airline(s) in order to reach elite frequent flyer status. With elite status comes various perks - access to lounges, expedited passage through airports, seat selections, upgrades, baggage allowances, etc. - that can be as important if not more important to frequent travellers. So those factors also need to be understood as you make your choices.

It involves homework and research, but the rewards can be very significant, well worth the effort. (Or so many of us think. Of course we can be both delusional and exhibit OCD symptoms in this regard. Welcome to the madhouse.)
Earning depends on fare booking class (which is different to cabin)
For earning miles the fare bucket (a letter A to Z) is very important and not just the cabin you fly in (first, business or economy). Some low cost fares can earn nil miles/points in your FFP, especially if not flown on your own airline.
This web site gives info on redeemable earning Where to Credit | How Many Miles | Every Frequent Flyer Program (but no idea how accurate: use at your own risk). Status earning is harder to easily determine.

Some ffp's allow pooling or free transfers to others subject to ffp t&c's http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/infor...e-pooling.html

It's better to have status with the airline you fly with most - it just works better, and you should get preference for any upgrades or during service issues. Airlines tend to give members of their own frequent flyer program better service, than members of other frequent flyer programs. The airline you fly with the most will often have inherent home scheme advantages. If you fly one of these airlines, it is recommended that you choose that airline. As a very general rule, it's best to maintain status on the airline you mostly fly, other things being equal. Often status on the carrier being flown gets you access to special seats or even eligibility for upgrades. It will matter more than alliance status during IROPs and might give you higher priority for OPUPs.
Status: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/onewo...l#post27282849 May not /will not be up to date.

Award flights with your airline, and its FFP partners (alliance airlines and non-alliance) are subject to availability & the rules of your airlines FFP. Alliance airline FFP's do not have the same non-alliance airline partners. Award flights are not free. Some can have very high cash co-payments.
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/miles...aluations.html

Some airlines have better earning/redemption charts for your pattern. For example, if you fly on cheap fares on a certain airline often, Airline ABC might give you miles for it, while Airline XYZ might not or give fewer miles. However Airline ABC might charge much more miles and/or cash surcharges for the redemption that you want than does Airline XYZ. Earn to burn is what matters. 10,000 miles in one ffp may get you a longer award flight than 15,000 miles in another ffp.

With airline partners you can fly an airline and may be able to collect frequent flyer miles in another airline frequent flyer program. Some low cost fares can earn nil miles/points in your FFP, especially if not flown on your own airline. That said, a good indicator is always to look at the program of the airline you are flying with and check the partners flights you can credit to it. The option to credit flights is typically a reciprocal benefit between FFPs. But you always have to double check on the website of the program you want to credit to. (thanks to a post by cityflyer369)

Expiry For low miles/points balance it is better to keep all in one FFP, and not have multiple accounts. Many FFP's have expiry rules and it will happen if you are not careful. A very good summary about expiry of OneWorld miles/avios/points in post 554 (updated 13 Sept 2014). A little more OW information in post 573. And for many airlines in Frequent Flyer Mileage Expiry by KiwiFlyer (01 Feb 2010) More here in Airline Miles Expiration Policies Roundup in The Points Guy blog (April 17, 2013). Many of the airline ffp sub forums have a thread on simple ways to keep miles from expiring.
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/miles...nt-expire.html

Effectively transfer/conversion of miles/points from 1 airline ffp to another airlines ffp is not possible or practicable. Transfer via www.points.com or a hotel loyality program is sometimes possible, but the conversion rate is unbelievably horrendous. For some ffp's there can be indirect ways via hotel frequent-guest programs, but these typical result in a significant reduction in the number of miles that ultimately end up in the other airline's FFP.

Retro credit of flights taken before signing up to a FFP varies by airline
For many you need to be a signed up member at the date of the flight.
Some information Keep the physical boarding passes.

Upgrades
For upgrades the general rule is you can only upgrade a flight marketed (flight number) and operated (metal) by the airline of your frequent flyer programme (no codeshares) with your airlines upgrade instrument (e.g. SWU, miles) or complementary with status (if applicable). 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
Non flying earning by credit card, rental cars, hotel stays, shopping, on line surveys, etc are a good way of earning and for keeping accounts alive for many people.

________________________________________________
Airline Information

Individual airlines FFP are here Airlines Mileage Programs

Flame-free airline threads on FlyerTalk are listed in post 7 of http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/infor...esk-forum.html

Major airline alliances are
Star Alliance - Home - Star Alliance web site and the Flyertalk forum Star Alliance
www.oneworld.com web site and the Flyertalk forum OneWorld Alliance
www.skyteam.com web site and the Flyertalk forum Skyteam

Non aligned airlines include
- Alaska (a good FFP for many people due the airline partners)
- Emirates
- Ethihad
- many others

For advice on the intricacies of each Star Alliance airline frequent flyer program [FFP] please refer to the airline web sites and the airline specific forums (as blue links below)
- Air Canada
- Aegean
- Air New Zealand
- Asiana
- Avianca
- LufthansaAustrian-Swiss Brussels LOT
- United Airlines
- Scandinavian Airlines
- Singapore
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- more to follow

For advice on the intricacies of each OneWorld airline frequent flyer program [FFP] please refer to the airline web sites and the airline specific forums (as blue links below)
- Air Berlin Topbonus OW membership 20 March 2012 Bankrupt & shutdown Oct 2018
- American AAdvantage
- British Airways - Executive Club
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Finnair Plus
- Iberia Plus
- JAL Mileage Bank
- LAN LANPASS
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club OW membership 31 October 2013
Other OneWorld airlines do not have separate forums on FT.
Malaysian & Srilankin Airline posts here http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/other...-programs-470/

For advice on the intricacies of each SkyTeam Alliance airline frequent flyer program [FFP] please refer to the airline web sites and the airline specific forums (as blue links below)
- Air France
- Alitalia
- Delta
- KLM
- Korean Air
Other SkyTeam airlines do not have separate forums on FT.

Awards assistance tools (use at your own risk. May not be up to date. These are not recommendations)

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Jul 21, 19 at 4:16 pm Reason: updated
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Old Feb 11, 14, 1:46 am
  #3  
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++++
These threads on a very similar topic here in Information Desk forum and other forums

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Sep 16, 19 at 9:49 pm Reason: Addding links. Fixing lost links. Some links after 15 Jan 2015 still lost
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Old Feb 13, 14, 1:11 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 2
Dear all, thanks in advance for any help you can give. This is my first post and I'm new to this whole world and forum although I have been racking up miles and paying for trips for the past few years.

I live in Iowa which makes my home airport DSM for the most part but a pretty cheap flight can usually get my to ORD MSP or DFW which is the usual stops elsewhere.

I probably fly less than or close to 25,000 miles a year and value award flights and economy over status.
I currently have mostly gotten my points by credit card offers and then redeeming them for domestic flights which may or may not be the best use of my flights, but it's just what I have done.
I don't know how much one has to fly to gain meaningful status so I don't know the answer to that quesion.
I am also wondering if anyone has any input on which alliance to go with. The places I want to go are limitless (I'm a pretty casual leisure flyer with not too many concrete plans) I mostly am looking for affordable and cheap tickets anywhere for a new experience rather than status ect.. those would be nice bonuses though.
Right now I don't have a preference of who I fly, but I have about 30k points with both American and USairways as well as tickets with southwest. I have gone through BA, Delta, and United (using their CC deals) but don't have any points left.
Other ways to earn points would be with hotel stays or gas as I still live at home and have very little bills. Most of my time not working offshore on an oil rig I spend traveling to see friends all over the US/world.
I'm sure there are a host of other questions to narrow down this but that's a good base for now. I am basically looking for a little advice on which carrier(s) seem like viable options if I wanted to become more loyal and try to utilize one alliance or FFP to get the most bang for the buck. Also, any suggestions on how to get more FFP besides CC or which would be a good option based on that being the way I'm getting most of mine please let me know.
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Old Feb 13, 14, 6:00 pm
  #5  
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outsider8u Welcome to the forum

If not flying often often better to buy flights on price and/or convenience and not any freq flyer miles you may (or may not) get. With airline alliances/partners you can travel on 1 airline, but collect miles to another, subject to the FFP's terms & conditions. FFP's are for the long term: not just a few random flights

US Airways and AA have merged. Will be known as AA and part of the OneWorld alliance. In time your US Airway miles will become AA miles. Details & dates have not yet been published by AA. But it has been stated conversion will be 1 to 1.

If you now travel the world also worth joining a Star Alliance airline FFP. Despite the recent miles devaluation, United is good for many living in the USA

Alaska is also a good FFP with many partner airlines. http://www.alaskaair.com/content/mil...ePlan-partners

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Feb 13, 14 at 6:38 pm
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Old Feb 14, 14, 4:18 am
  #6  
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Posts: 82,643
In the OP, why the emphasis on oneworld? Or was this just copied from another forum?

Note that miles flown over 50,000 can matter very much in the selection of a program. On AA, making EXP (100,000) versus Plat (50,000) makes a HUGE difference. Similarly, on UA, getting 1K (100,000) is HUGE, but UA had a level at 75,000 and is even better if one can qualify for their unpublished GS level based rooghly on revenue. DL has a level at 75,000 and an even better level at 125,000. On some foreign carrier FF programs like LH, 200,000 miles is a magic number.

Please don't fail to consider non alliance programs like AS, EK, etc.
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Old Feb 21, 14, 2:27 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
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PHX flier, move to AA or United?

Hey everyone,

Long time lurker. I appreciate all the valuable info on here and I need some input from you all.

I'm based in PHX and I fly US Air domestically and United internationally. I try to stay US Air but I travel to France, Portugal and Japan and United is a better option. It's worked out well since they're both Star Alliance but now I'm not sure what to do. I'm Gold with US Air but not even a Silver with United. I'd like to stay US Air for my status but I like Star Alliance as the international choices are better. The biggest problem is that United out of PHX isn't great for my domestic routes (LA, Orlando, etc) and the terminal here is terrible.

I don't want to split my miles between Star Alliance and oneworld. Any advice?

Thanks!
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Old Feb 21, 14, 2:51 pm
  #8  
 
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If I were you, I would go with AA you will have a lot more options now internationally then the old US had.
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Old Feb 21, 14, 3:17 pm
  #9  
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Originally Posted by jriggsaz View Post
Hey everyone,

Long time lurker. I appreciate all the valuable info on here and I need some input from you all.

I'm based in PHX and I fly US Air domestically and United internationally. I try to stay US Air but I travel to France, Portugal and Japan and United is a better option. It's worked out well since they're both Star Alliance but now I'm not sure what to do. I'm Gold with US Air but not even a Silver with United. I'd like to stay US Air for my status but I like Star Alliance as the international choices are better. The biggest problem is that United out of PHX isn't great for my domestic routes (LA, Orlando, etc) and the terminal here is terrible.

I don't want to split my miles between Star Alliance and oneworld. Any advice?

Thanks!
Welcome to Flyertalk jriggsaz!

We actually have a fairly new forum here on Flyertalk called Information Desk for queries such as yours. I will move your post there.
There are members from across the whole of FT (-v- here where it is mostly US FF'ers) so you should get a wider perspective.

Please let me know if you have any questions or how else I can help.



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Old Feb 21, 14, 6:14 pm
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by teese35 View Post
If I were you, I would go with AA you will have a lot more options now internationally then the old US had.
I disagree that the new US with AA will have better international options than the old US. Star Alliance has a better network for going to France, Portugal, and Japan which are places OP likes to travel to.

That being said, I agree AA is the way to go because you'll have better options for your domestic routes to LA and Orlando. You don't want to be connecting all the time just to earn UA miles.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 2:08 pm
  #11  
 
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Thanks for the replies. I'm leaning towards moving to AA.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 8:02 pm
  #12  
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May be of interest
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...solidated.html
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Old Mar 8, 14, 7:02 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 2
Looking for FF and Hotel rewards

(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, better award access
(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: <25,000. 2 flights, 4 sectors
(3) What types of fares do you usually buy ?
(First, Business, Premium economy, Economy, cheapest)
Reply: Cheapest
(4) Can you choose your airlines and/or class of service? Do you travel for work and/or pleasure?
Reply: Pleasure
(5) Which routes do you fly most often
(US Domestic, Transpacific, Kangaroo, in Asia etc)
Reply: Asia
(6) What is your home airport?
(SFO, SCL, London LHR, HKG, Singapore SIN etc.)
Reply: SEA
(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:Emirates, I have 28000 miles
(8) Preferred Airlines
Reply:Any

I'm looking for options which would get me good rewards based travel to anywhere in the world. I'm very passionate about travel, been to most of the states in US.

I do fly back home every year on Emirates. I have been flying on emirates as its more convenient. I'm open to changing this for better rewards.

I have been reading about MS lately and can do 3000 to 4000 MS every month.

I don't have any of the high rewarding CCs like SPG or Citi AA. I'm planning to apply based on some guidance.

If my answers are too open ended, I'll be more than happy to get guidance for my next goals. I would love to work towards a trip to Italy/France this year or next year. If I can club that with my yearly trip to India, that would work too.

Thanks for reading.
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Old Mar 8, 14, 7:26 pm
  #14  
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Welcome to the forum

AS is a good FFP. It has EK and a good range of other airlines as partners
http://www.alaskaair.com/content/mil...ePlan-partners

With 2 flights a year going to take a long time to earn miles for an award.
Check the expiry of your EK miles. EK miles expire 3 years from when they were earned (regardless of account activity).

( I have asked the moderators to move this to the original/master thread. Helps the next person when asking a question)
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Old Mar 15, 14, 5:13 pm
  #15  
 
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Posts: 673
Exclamation SSA - Salvador, Brazil: Which are best airlines and alliances to collect miles on?

SSA - Salvador, Brazil: Which are best airlines and alliances to collect miles on?

My friend works in the Geological/ Marine Research space and does a 5 week on and off thing.

Home base is above. The travel and projects keep changing 3-4 months to different Vessel and world location.

I think that being able to redeem the MILES for:
- International Flights (Business or Coach) - Brazil to US, EU, India would be the best benefit.
- UPGRADES to Business (a second?)

Thoughts and suggestions?

I am guessing the TAM + LAN > Connection with One World would be one of the top?

Which other alliance would be a good second?

Primary & Secondary recommendations are welcome.
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