Should I switch my loyalty to another *A program?

Old Jan 7, 20, 5:06 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2018
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Should I switch my loyalty to another *A program?

So I have done a bit of soul searching over the last couple of days, starting from the following premise:
  • Miles & More Miles expire after 3 years and there is no way to renew it (Not going to get a credit card for each travel companion - if it was just me okay).
  • I am never going to achieve anything worthwhile with M&M, because knowing that I took 2 long haul J and 1 short haul J flights with the LH group in 2019:
    • Status wise this is 40% short of reaching the lowest tier status. For comparison, with SkyTeam, I would have gotten gold with the same.
    • Miles wise, this represented a whopping 18k Miles. And that's because I was lucky to ticket one of the flights on NH. Otherwise it would have been under 10k for everything. So if my average is 45k over 3 years best I can hope for is a PE flight to North America, at best.
  • However I will continue to fly with the LH group occasionally, seeing as they often offer the best value.
So I asked myself, should I really continue with this program where my miles will disappear before I can buy something better than a bottle of wine? Is there a better place I can go?

The short answer is: no

The reasoning behind it is below in full. I am hoping that this will be useful for others asking themselves the same existential question. I very much welcome your opinion if you think I made the wrong decision


A) Determining what I want to achieve. Made up a list of what I would expect from the perfect *A FF program:
  • A program where Miles don't automatically expire without a chance to renew them (knowing that I'm a casual traveller).
  • A program where I can redeem long haul premium cabin flights to the US or the Far East for a decent rate.
  • A program with a decent earning rate in both long haul and Euro
  • A program which lets me transfer Amex miles, and family pool miles with my travel companions.
  • Status is not very important to me. I'm already hitting gold with SkyTeam this year. So that's all my Y fares covered.
Give that M&M only ticks 1.5 of those 5 boxes (The good mileage bargains and Family pool). I started looking at possible alternatives


B) Drafting a list of possible replacement candidates
  • Asian carriers were discarded due to the same expiration rules as M&M (although my heart does sway towards NH)
  • TK for the same reason
  • TAP too, and also I have never heard a nice thing about their FF program
  • So this leaves the following shortlist: SAS Eurobonus, United, and Aeroplan
  • And of course the 4th option: do nothing and stay with M&M (You should always compare options with the option of doing nothing!)

C) Doing homework: weighing the pros and cons carefully

Eurobonus

+
· Can transfer Amex Miles
· Can family pool miles
· Valid 5 years instead of 3
· Supposedly, low cash fees for award flights (can someone confirm?)
· Award flights on SAS are cheap.


-
· No way to extend expiry date after 5 years, so same pickle as M&M really
· Non-SAS awards are expensive (see below)


Earning Miles (P class)
100% on LH Group
150% on other *A carriers
I didn't really manage to find how point gains work on SA flights even after reading the wiki on these forums ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


United Airlines

+
· Can extend indefinitely by flying
· Status may be attainable by casual flyer (if I understood United’s incomprehensible set of rules)

-
· No family pool
· Cannot transfer Amex Miles
· Short expiry timer (18 months)
· Expensive awards (see below)
· Dynamic pricing means hard to estimate cost of award flights on UA itself (but they seem like bad deals overall)
· United breaks guitars and beats up doctors

Earning Miles (P class)
5x Dollar Fare on UA
100% on LH Group
Status gain at 1x Fare on UA and 20% of distance on LH group. 5k required for silver


Aeroplan

+
· Can extend indefinitely by flying or buying stuff
· Transparent with fees
· Can also get points with a wide range of hotels and non *A airlines


-
· No family pool
· Cannot transfer Amex Miles
· Ultra Short expiry timer (12 months)
· Expensive awards
· Never going to get status


Earning Miles (P class)
150% on AC
100% on *A
50% on LH group short haul
NO status outside air canada



Stay with Miles & More

+
· No hassle
· Already have miles there (a few)
· Can family pool miles
· Bargain prices are great, and non bargain price are decent (for example 112k for United Polaris instead of 140k with United themselves)


-
· 3 year expiry
· Cannot transfer Amex Miles
· F awards seem very hard to snatch (I won’t be able to get there in 3 years anyway)
· With bargains (obviously) you have a very limited choice
· NEED to ticket outside LH group to obtain decent mileage
· Will never obtain status unless flying paid F

Earning Miles (P class)
4x Euro fare on LH group (terrible deal)
100% on other *A partners
Status at 100% on all LH and *A flights, 35k required for FT



D) Coming to the painful conclusion that it's not worth it.
Each alternate programs ticks a few boxes that Miles&More does not, but comes with a drawback that cancels the appeal. Eurobonus seems a little better overall and I wish I had made that legwork ahead of getting the M&M card, but I feel now that I've already invested a couple of years into M&M it doesn't feel worth the U-Turn.

If you read everything up to here, congrats, you are amazing.
Do you see any mistake with my reasoning, and have you got alternative suggestions to make? If not I will swallow my pride and cash my upcoming SAS+ flight to ARN on my Miles&More card!
Maestro Ramen is offline  
Old Jan 7, 20, 6:53 pm
  #2  
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some of your data is way off, e.g. UA miles do not at all expire. Also, UA awards are cheap compared to M&M etc. because you never pay any fuel surcharges, just airport taxes ... BOS-FRA in C-class might be 70k miles ... but $5.60 taxes and not $605.60 ...
Earning UA status changed January 1st ... check if that can work for you. Silver is 7x miles not 6x miles. UA Gold = SAG = *A lounge access ... can be a huge benefit. 2 long haul J can definitely get you UA Gold w/ the new rules ...
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Old Jan 7, 20, 8:04 pm
  #3  
 
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You might like to reconsider Asiana. Their miles expire after 10-12 years depending on what level you have. Also their threshold to achieve and hold *A Gold is quite low.

I have a similar flying pattern to you. 2 long haul business flights each year (1 x ARN-SYD return) and some short-haul flights. With that I maintain TK Gold (Elite), although at this usage you would need some extra flights to actually obtain Elite in the first place - but also check their status match offers. I also build up a useful balance of points to spoil myself every now and then with some upgrades.
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Old Jan 7, 20, 11:57 pm
  #4  
 
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IMHO your conundrum fundamentally comes down to wanting to participate in a frequent flyer program despite not being a frequent flier.
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sw1x is offline  
Old Jan 8, 20, 12:02 am
  #5  
 
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From my point of view if someone doesn’t fly that much, but he is interested in award flights, he should focus on how easy it is to get award miles without flying. And that depends on different things. That way for a person living in GER/CH/AUT M&M it makes much more sense than for a US based person. I can transfer MR to M&M via another German program. Depending on your expenses you can collect some 100k M&M award miles each year without flying. Other programs allow to buy miles, which can make sense as well. That criteria is not on your list.

Beside of that MileagePlus seems to make more sense for you. LifeMiles is worth checking out as well.

Last edited by thbe; Jan 8, 20 at 12:07 am
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Old Jan 8, 20, 12:15 am
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Maestro Ramen View Post
  • I am never going to achieve anything worthwhile with M&M, because knowing that I took 2 long haul J and 1 short haul J flights with the LH group in 2019:
    • Status wise this is 40% short of reaching the lowest tier status. For comparison, with SkyTeam, I would have gotten gold with the same.
    • Miles wise, this represented a whopping 18k Miles. And that's because I was lucky to ticket one of the flights on NH. Otherwise it would have been under 10k for everything. So if my average is 45k over 3 years best I can hope for is a PE flight to North America, at best.
  • However I will continue to fly with the LH group occasionally, seeing as they often offer the best value.
You want to attain elite status (with M&M or a *A FFP) with this amount of infrequent and frugal flying? Good luck
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oliver2002 is online now  
Old Jan 8, 20, 12:19 am
  #7  
 
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Originally Posted by sw1x View Post
IMHO your conundrum fundamentally comes down to wanting to participate in a frequent flyer program despite not being a frequent flier.
And with Flyertalk he has found the right place to solve that issue.

Non frequent fliers wanting to participate in FFP belong to the biggest group on FT by far, followed by FF, who wants to know how to survive 20 hours of cattle class each week and those who wants to find out, which airline offers the best champagne in F.

Please don’t start questioning the fundament of FT! Most other things in life don’t make sense as well.
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Old Jan 8, 20, 1:21 am
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Concerning SAS Eurobonus:

The points are valid for five years unless you have Diamond status. So, if you could manage to obtain Diamond status at some time during the coming five years, the points you earn today will not expire.

There are no YQ "taxes" on awards booked via SAS. So, the taxes for a Germany-North America on LH can be as low as EUR 150.
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Old Jan 8, 20, 1:34 am
  #9  
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I believe you are overthinking this. You really shouldn't be hoarding miles for over three years anyway, since there is always a devaluation around the corner. 'Earn and burn' is the new 'save up for the trip of a lifetime when I retire.' And by the way, UA miles never expire.
LondonElite is online now  
Old Jan 8, 20, 2:06 am
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
I believe you are overthinking this. You really shouldn't be hoarding miles for over three years anyway, since there is always a devaluation around the corner. 'Earn and burn' is the new 'save up for the trip of a lifetime when I retire.' And by the way, UA miles never expire.
Yes. I view it as “inflation” but in points instead of currency. You have to spend quickly before they become worth significantly less.
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Old Jan 8, 20, 2:37 am
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You should also check the details of the Aegean program - there you might even get status if you add a trip to Greece.
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Old Jan 8, 20, 2:56 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by oliver2002 View Post
You want to attain elite status (with M&M or a *A FFP) with this amount of infrequent and frugal flying? Good luck
I'm having a hard time rationalizing/verifying the claim that this travel pattern is enough for Gold with SkyTeam, which typically requires 50,000 status miles since it certainly doesn't qualify for anything on segments.

Most business class fares earn at most 150%, with FULL (fully flexible, fully refundable, and last seat availability) J getting 200%. A lot depends on how we interpret the word "flight." If it literally means segment, taking a maximum of 8,000 miles per segment would give 24,000 status miles for two longhaul segments plus maybe 1,500 additional status miles for the one shorthaul flight. This barely gives Silver status at 25,000 status miles and in fact would not suffice for Silver if the long haul flights are just TATL and not ultralong such as USA to Australia or South Africa. Even most TPAC flights won't do it as for instance MSP/ORD to TYO/ICN is only about 6,000 actual miles.

OTOH if "flight" means RT including connections, this would be possible since for example MSP-NRT-SIN RT is about 27,000 status miles at 150%. Two such itineraries would get the 50,000 status miles required for Gold.
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Old Jan 8, 20, 3:40 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
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This year I have a dead year with M&M for status, and I have quite a regular 50-60,000 status miles with them per year. Usually 1 or 2 long haul J, lots and lots of short haul Y in Europe, and perhaps one or two PE. Given the flying pattern, and this year I think I took around 100 flights or so, it just wasn't possible to get anywhere near SEN, especially as J and PE fares were in P and N classes. So this year I am crediting all of my flights, except the ultra low Y in LH group - L,K etc - to Eurobonus in the hope I'll get Star Alliance Gold and then when 2021 kicks in, I'll be able to shoot for SEN with the new M&M rules.

I have enough miles with M&M for redemptions, and I also earn from a Belgian M&M Amex, so I'm more worried about getting status than award miles. Asiana doesn't credit enough fare classes for me to reach Gold, I am not going to be flying Aegean, and TK I also don't plan on flying. I fly quite frequently to OSL and ARN (mostly to take advantage of QR business fares), so Eurobonus Gold seems the only achievable status for me. My year started in December and I've already got 2,800 points from 3 flights (2 SK and 1 TG domestic J). I'll also be flying Long haul J VCE-SIN outbound in P and return in D class on LX and SQ (LH codeshare), and planning one more LH with *A.

It's crazy when you think how easy it is to get Silver on BA with one QR J and 4 BA/IB segments and how difficult it is with M&M. I may even hit gold with BA this year as I have at least 2 QR LH flights and will have other flights to credit.

The only thing with Eurobonus based outside Scandinavia is the difficulty in redeemable miles, but I'll probably just use them to fly up to Tromso or somewhere north to see the Northern lights towards the end of the year.

Good luck with your mileage hunt
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Old Jan 8, 20, 5:21 am
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Note that as difficult as it is to get status on M&M, the status lasts for two years. Now that the validity is changing to one year, I assume it's a bit easier on a yearly basis to qualify, but that's just my instinct.
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Old Jan 8, 20, 6:35 am
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Originally Posted by sophialite View Post
Note that as difficult as it is to get status on M&M, the status lasts for two years. Now that the validity is changing to one year, I assume it's a bit easier on a yearly basis to qualify, but that's just my instinct.
Indeed, and that's fine with me as I only want the status for 2021 when I'll probably go back to trying to get SEN when new M&M rules kick in unless I find something incredible with the SK Gold - though I know it's only one year status then too with those new M&M rules.
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