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Would *A be suitable for me, and which carrier?

Would *A be suitable for me, and which carrier?

Old Mar 12, 18, 2:22 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Tokyo
Programs: IHG Spire, DL Gold (SkyTeam E+), OZ Silver
Posts: 14
Would *A be suitable for me, and which carrier?

I'm a noob in airlines and I've recently got a new job that will let me fly around the world quite a bit, mostly Asia.
Being French but living in Japan, what I'd like is to get discounted (or free) tickets Tokyo-Paris from times to times to enjoy for holidays.
But I'm also interested in having a status for the convenience of priority boarding and lounge access stuff.

I initially thought that SkyTeam would be the thing for me, mostly because I was focused into the AirFrance FlyingBlue program.
I initially asked there.
The general opinion on the AF forum is that "SkyTeam is not a great idea for someone based in Asia, look into *A or OW programs".

Based in Tokyo (Narita or Haneda doesnt matter much), so I'll fly from there. Main destinations will be Korea (Seoul Gimpo), China (Shanghai), Singapore, Australia (Sydney), but could be also in other SE Asia countries. Occasionally, domestic flights within Japan.
Schedule for flying is at least 1-2 roundtrips per month, up to 3-4 in case of heavy schedule. When booking, I can have a selection of 3-4 airlines, but my company will usually go for the most economic choice. Good thing is I can try to fit everything in a single loyalty program.
Japan has 2 national carriers, however, I will not be flying ANA or JAL (the 2 national JP carriers) particularly often, because they tend to be more overpriced than competitors on short/medium distance flights, and my company will not be willing to pay into this.
Because I'll fly quite a lot in Economy, I believe it's better to fly directly with the carrier and not with partners within the same alliance if I can avoid it (miles accrual is generally lower).

Looking a bit into *A programs, I'd tend to go for Asiana Airlines for 2 reasons:
1/ the miles accrual is based on 2 years from enrollment (and not 1 like most carriers), gives more time to reach status - moreover the targets of 20k/40k miles are quite realistic given my flight schedule
2/ they tend to be cheaper than competitors, thus I'm more likely to fly on them

Any insights from more experienced (asian) flyers ?
Thanks a lot!
Eizugal is offline  
Old Mar 12, 18, 4:06 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Melbourne, AU
Programs: *A Gold, QF (ex-QP), AA, TG, A3 Gold, VA, SQ
Posts: 358
Agree *A and Asiana are probably the best choice for you (and one of the best for anyone wanting *G relatively easily). However with mostly short intra-Asia hops on cheap Y fares you will still probably take a while to get the modest miles total that Asiana requires for *G. However one or two paid Y trips home to France in the right booking class with the right *A airline (ie earning 100% miles), crediting to Asiana, should do it. Or a few more of the longer work trips (eg Australia); if not, you may have to do that one paid trip home each year or two to maintain *G (so free trips home would be less likely). Lounges and other privileges when flying with any *A airline would then be the main benefit.
timster is offline  
Old Mar 13, 18, 2:06 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: NRT / HND
Programs: UA 1K, DL PM
Posts: 4,259
My reaction was similar to timster's. Asiana is a good program for someone who flies on moderate priced fares, but you could easily find that you'll earn zero or 25% on the cheapest economy fares. Seoul and Shanghai are also short flights, to where even earning at 100% doesn't get you much.

Ideally you should have some more insight on which fares exactly you can fly on. OZ offers their lowest fare class on the TYO-SEL flights right up until the last minute on many dates which earns a blanket Zero miles in all *A programs (might credit minimally to OZ's own but think even there its a zero). You're going to find similar problems with TG or SQ going to SE Asia or Australia, their lower priced fares also earn zero outside of their own programs (and even I think TG is a zero in their own).

I'm not sure why people told you that Skyteam is bad for Asia. MU and CZ have great award availability and good networks, KE and CI are high quality carriers, plus you have VN for SE Asia and Australia that's quite decent. Flying Blue might not be your ideal program though as I think they have discounted credit for many partners on lower fare classes, you might find yourself better off looking at DL Skymiles for Skyteam. You'd get 100% MQM credit for MU and AF flights, and then others depend on fare class. There are some zero earning fares on KE, CZ, and VN for sure, not sure on CI. Flying Blue is also not much better for redemptions from Japan than DL Skymiles. FB is great for intra-Asia awards in the southern region, but Japan & Korea are in a different region and it gets a lot more expensive for intra-Asia awards from there, nearer to the same as Skymiles.
dvs7310 is offline  
Old Mar 16, 18, 12:29 am
  #4  
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Join Date: Jan 2018
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Programs: IHG Spire, DL Gold (SkyTeam E+), OZ Silver
Posts: 14
Thank you for the answers.
An important additional point is that if I decide to commit with Asiana, I'm also planning to get a credit card with them to stack miles even faster. There are some available in Japan. This will help for mileage accrual, as flying eco might sometimes not give as much as expected, indeed.

I assume that miles obtained by CC do not count towards status?

As for the thing ST vs *A, it mostly comes down to a compromise between destinations (ST is not necessarily possible on all the routes in Asia) and trying to fly "metal" as much as possible because of my eco class bookings (mostly Asiana or ANA for *A, vs Delta for ST - I try to avoid Chinese airlines is possible, which rules out MU).
Last but not least, every program is likely to be "not great" for flyers in economy. Thus, it might be more advantageous to focus on one program with status easy to obtain, then grind the miles mostly with CC expenses.

Guess I'll be waiting for a couple of business trips to see if I can fly Asiana or *A partners consistently, then decide accordingly.
Eizugal is offline  
Old Mar 16, 18, 3:11 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Tasmania, Australia
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@Eizugal, did you try https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/star-alliance-413/
vbroucek is offline  
Old Mar 16, 18, 4:55 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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You are correct, credit card miles do not count toward status. Unfortunately you've gotta fly to earn it and you have to fly in mileage earning fare classes. My wife flies to Seoul quite a bit for business and her corporate travel agent keeps booking OZ fares that earn zero miles. Rather frustrating even though it's a short trip.

BTW, I'm not sure how long you've been in Japan but initially getting a credit card can be quite a challenge. I believe the Asiana card is issued by SMBC which may not be the easiest one to get if you don't have a history here yet. Your other option though that is easily overlooked is the SPG Amex. Its an expensive card but Amex is a lot more liberal for newcomers.
dvs7310 is offline  
Old Mar 17, 18, 3:51 am
  #7  
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Originally Posted by dvs7310 View Post
BTW, I'm not sure how long you've been in Japan but initially getting a credit card can be quite a challenge. I believe the Asiana card is issued by SMBC which may not be the easiest one to get if you don't have a history here yet. Your other option though that is easily overlooked is the SPG Amex. Its an expensive card but Amex is a lot more liberal for newcomers.
2 years and half in Japan. Already have a CC for a year (the Amazon card with SMBC), my credit history is flawless. Even though you're right, in Japan you can get rejected for whatever reason they find appropriate when reviewing (and this is something I know might happen)
As for Asiana cards there are 2 advertised on the Japanese website:
- one is a JCB so little interest outside of Japan
- the 2nd one is with UCCard and can be either a Visa or a Mastercard. The Gold one appears quite interesting as it's not particularly expensive and opens up access to some lounges in Japan/Korea.
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Old Mar 18, 18, 4:08 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: perth
Programs: SPG(LTG), SIA, Turkish Elite, Korean, Qantas
Posts: 1,442
Just for your interest I have an Australian issued Diners Club card and there are many Diners club lounges in Asia. For the Annual feel it would pay for itself in 3 lounge visits. As far as accruals fo check the earnings table before booking. I used to fly PEK to BNE regularly on SIA and paying $100 extra would get me a more flexible ticket and 100% miles against 50% on the cheaper fare which is about 1.5c per mile which is good when initially chasing status. I was posting to Turkish as they have a good requalification criteria. I also used to fly Korean which is good for points not expiring but not so good for elite status qualification.
geminidreams is offline  
Old Mar 18, 18, 10:47 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Melbourne, AU
Programs: *A Gold, QF (ex-QP), AA, TG, A3 Gold, VA, SQ
Posts: 358
If you could fly to/from France via Athens then Aegean's (A3) program is another option - used to be easiest qualification out there, and still is easy if you can fly sufficient qualifying legs in 12 months on A3 metal to get the tier miles. Award miles don't expire. Once you have *G with A3 the yearly re-qualification via any miles-earning *A flights is relatively easy (24k miles) with a couple of long hauls or lots of shorter ones.
timster is offline  
Old Mar 19, 18, 3:03 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Originally Posted by Eizugal View Post
2 years and half in Japan. Already have a CC for a year (the Amazon card with SMBC), my credit history is flawless. Even though you're right, in Japan you can get rejected for whatever reason they find appropriate when reviewing (and this is something I know might happen)
As for Asiana cards there are 2 advertised on the Japanese website:
- one is a JCB so little interest outside of Japan
- the 2nd one is with UCCard and can be either a Visa or a Mastercard. The Gold one appears quite interesting as it's not particularly expensive and opens up access to some lounges in Japan/Korea.
JCB isn't bad outside of Japan these days actually. They partner with Discover in the US and UnionPay in China. Additionally anywhere where there are a lot of Japanese tourists, usually JCB exists as a payment option as well. I've had their United Mileage Plus card for years, back when it was my primary card, I found it to be accepted pretty easily in North America and Asia. UC is good if you can get it, but they are owned by Mizuho so wouldn't hold my breath as a foreigner. A Gold JCB (if one exists for the Asiana card) would likely have access to the same lounges in Japan/Korea as the UC card, though prepare for severe disappointment with the ones in Japan.

Unfortunately having a clean record with SMBC doesn't necessarily carry much weight with other Japanese card issuing banks. They are just now starting to get centralized credit reporting here and many companies are not yet subscribed to it. There are many other arbitrary factors that play into deciding whether to give a card here than just credit report, unfortunately your name in Katakana instead of Kanji factors into that decision at some banks.

Originally Posted by geminidreams View Post
Just for your interest I have an Australian issued Diners Club card and there are many Diners club lounges in Asia. For the Annual feel it would pay for itself in 3 lounge visits. As far as accruals fo check the earnings table before booking. I used to fly PEK to BNE regularly on SIA and paying $100 extra would get me a more flexible ticket and 100% miles against 50% on the cheaper fare which is about 1.5c per mile which is good when initially chasing status. I was posting to Turkish as they have a good requalification criteria. I also used to fly Korean which is good for points not expiring but not so good for elite status qualification.
I have the Japanese Diners Club and it's wonderful for international travel in places where I'm not flying Star Alliance in terms of lounge access, however Japan is a dark hole in their network. Yes, they do have some options at Narita and Haneda but they are terrible. The same ones you'd get with a much cheaper Japanese credit card, not the higher quality business class lounges you get in most countries. I think in Korea Incheon is ok for Diners lounges, but Gimpo is another black hole. With the OP's travel pattern, it may not be worth the cost (About US$220 a year in Japan). However we do have a very cheap option for the unlimited Priority Pass here, Rakuten Premium card comes with the full priority pass for about $100 a year. Priority Pass and Diners Club lounges almost always mirror each other.
dvs7310 is offline  
Old Mar 19, 18, 4:24 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: perth
Programs: SPG(LTG), SIA, Turkish Elite, Korean, Qantas
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Originally Posted by timster View Post
If you could fly to/from France via Athens then Aegean's (A3) program is another option - used to be easiest qualification out there, and still is easy if you can fly sufficient qualifying legs in 12 months on A3 metal to get the tier miles. Award miles don't expire. Once you have *G with A3 the yearly re-qualification via any miles-earning *A flights is relatively easy (24k miles) with a couple of long hauls or lots of shorter ones.
TK is 37500 over 2 years and no requirement to fly TK.
geminidreams is offline  
Old Mar 19, 18, 4:31 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by dvs7310 View Post
JCB isn't bad outside of Japan these days actually. They partner with Discover in the US and UnionPay in China. Additionally anywhere where there are a lot of Japanese tourists, usually JCB exists as a payment option as well. I've had their United Mileage Plus card for years, back when it was my primary card, I found it to be accepted pretty easily in North America and Asia. UC is good if you can get it, but they are owned by Mizuho so wouldn't hold my breath as a foreigner. A Gold JCB (if one exists for the Asiana card) would likely have access to the same lounges in Japan/Korea as the UC card, though prepare for severe disappointment with the ones in Japan.

Unfortunately having a clean record with SMBC doesn't necessarily carry much weight with other Japanese card issuing banks. They are just now starting to get centralized credit reporting here and many companies are not yet subscribed to it. There are many other arbitrary factors that play into deciding whether to give a card here than just credit report, unfortunately your name in Katakana instead of Kanji factors into that decision at some banks.



I have the Japanese Diners Club and it's wonderful for international travel in places where I'm not flying Star Alliance in terms of lounge access, however Japan is a dark hole in their network. Yes, they do have some options at Narita and Haneda but they are terrible. The same ones you'd get with a much cheaper Japanese credit card, not the higher quality business class lounges you get in most countries. I think in Korea Incheon is ok for Diners lounges, but Gimpo is another black hole. With the OP's travel pattern, it may not be worth the cost (About US$220 a year in Japan). However we do have a very cheap option for the unlimited Priority Pass here, Rakuten Premium card comes with the full priority pass for about $100 a year. Priority Pass and Diners Club lounges almost always mirror each other.
I have never transited through Japan. Have used it in Many cities in China, Hong Kong, Incheon, Bangkok, Phuket, Singapore, Dubai, Paris. In Australia it is only just over $Aus100 a year so pretty good value plus the points can be credited to quite a few partners. Certainly an equivalent in Japan is worth chasing while waiting for status.
geminidreams is offline  
Old Mar 26, 18, 7:01 am
  #13  
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Join Date: Jun 2016
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Originally Posted by geminidreams View Post
TK is 37500 over 2 years and no requirement to fly TK.
aegean is 12k + 4 x A3 or Olympic flights and you can buy tier points as well, if needed
GBobon is offline  
Old Mar 27, 18, 2:14 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Melbourne, AU
Programs: *A Gold, QF (ex-QP), AA, TG, A3 Gold, VA, SQ
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Originally Posted by GBobon View Post
aegean is 12k + 4 x A3 or Olympic flights and you can buy tier points as well, if needed
12k plus four a3 flights is for gold retention. To get to gold with a3 flights, you need to get to silver first, with 12k miles and two a3 flights in 12 months, and then 24k miles plus four a3 flights in 12 months to get up to gold. With no a3 flights, it's 24k to silver and then 48k to gold.

TK is easier to get to gold with no need for (TK) flights, but their award miles expire. A3 award miles don't expire.
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Old Mar 27, 18, 3:03 am
  #15  
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@timster, i know, but the topic to which I replied was about re-qualification...
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