FFP for a hoarding cheapskate

Old Jul 14, 17, 3:58 pm
  #16  
 
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With the assumption that you are resident in the US, do keep in mind that United has a minimum spending threshold in Premier Qualifying Dollars for earning elite status. For 2P(25K) $3000, 1P(50K aka Premier Gold) $6000, Premier Platinum(75K) $9000, and 1K $12000.

https://www.united.com/web/en-US/con...r/qualify.aspx


It may also behoove one to acquire the Mileage Plus Explorer card for earning double miles on United ticket purchases and earning bonus miles for reaching a minimum spending level upon signing up for the card.

https://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/Mar...tPartners.aspx
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Old Jul 14, 17, 4:10 pm
  #17  
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
This is a very, very good reason to avoid starting an Aeroplan collection today.

A $1300 ticket for that distance traveled is neither particularly cheap nor expensive. A return trip should earn 6500 points. A couple of those converted to shorthaul awards in Europe (8k o/w as of 1 November) isn't a horrible deal.
It's cheap compared to what I usually pay for BA Premium Economy or AA Business, but then again this client is also cheap (BIG low cost company). Tried the 'United Economy Plus is Premium Economy' nonsense, but that's another topic.

I just looked up some typical routes, dates to give $ number since it was asked specifically. Return trip would earn 8-9k PQM and similar RDM assuming Silver.

Regarding the 8K awards within Europe, I wouldn't use this as I have zillions of BAEC points and that is about the only decent way I find to use them as the surcharge is low and capped.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 4:16 pm
  #18  
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Originally Posted by telescopic View Post
Recent changes in my circumstances require me to join a *A FFP. I have been reading up on *A for the last few days and, more importantly, know what I want so not another vague "which *A FFP is best?" thread.

UA's MP program seems to best fit my needs, I would like to know if I've got anything wrong and which one program you would suggest for me focus to do a final, detailed comparison against UA?

My priority is to accumulate over several years and redeem as cheaply as possible (hence the title), without ridiculous surcharge fees, taxes, etc. on mid/long haul in Economy.

Status would be a bonus, not a primary objective. I would be flying just enough to earn Gold on most programs, however flying benefits such as free checked bags and lounge access are not important as these are business trips which I can expense. Status would only be valued if it brings significant bonus earnings on award miles or frequent free upgrades from Economy Plus to Business on UA transatlantic.

I would be unlikely/unwilling to meet requirements to fly a minimum of segments/miles on the FFP's airline, I only plan to fly UA within *A.

Based on above UA MP looks good. Miles don't have expiration dates, only the need for some activity within 18 months which is easy. Redemptions look to be some of the cheapest, especially on charges, even if earning isn't the best. The 4 segment minimum on UA is not an issue.

By comparison-

Turkish M&S- my issue is the 3 year expiration on miles, I know these can be extended by paying but that isn't a good solution for me. It is significantly easier to qualify and renew status however still doesn't seem to make redemption better than UA.

Avianca Lifemiles- my main issue is the minimum requirement of flying on Avianca, this wouldn't be practical for me. I could forego the status, and just focus on earning miles, and Avianca has been recommended for cheap redemptions but the website availability (and website/customer service in general) doesn't look reliable. UA's site just works.

Asiana Club- this still looks promising, like a 2nd best of everything with easy status qualification/renewal (I think only Aegean requires fewer miles) without any requirements to fly on the carrier (unlike Aegean, etc.), has long enough expiration (10 or more years) and not awful mile earning. Unfortunately, redemption fees, etc. are apparently very high. I can't say how much, it is not possible to view/book reward flights other than on Asiana on their site.

EgyptAir Plus- similar, slightly worse, version of TK from my perspective.

LH M&M- this looks to be similar to UA MP, perhaps even better. Redemption miles are similar but I can't tell the fees, I will need to create an account first it seems. Status is valid for 2 years but this is fairly meaningless to me as the Gold requirement at 100k/year is too high and I don't need the protection for Silver. This does allow, even on Silver ("Frequent Traveller") status access to "Business Lounges" which I could possibly make use of on US connections even if it is a very basic setup like AA provides.

Copa- similar to Avianca's main issue of minimum segments flown on Copa, otherwise apparently good fit.

As a last question, what is probability UA would start charging surcharge fees in the next 5-10 years?

Thanks
1. For fees/surcharges, while they differ among programs, they can also be different (generally much worse) for award tickets departing from Europe.

2. As a very general rule, the trend of for FF programs to give few if any miles for deep discount fares flown on partner operated/marketed flights.

3. The LH lounge access for those with status lower than SEN or *A *Gold applies only to a few lounges located in German airports and certain hubs like JFK where there's enough traffic to offer an additional lounge that's distinct and worse than the SEN lounge. Perhaps a bigger advantage is that LH tends to give lounge access to its own elites when traveling on carriers that are LH affiliates but hot *A members, such as German/EuroWings, IIRC Tyrolian, etc.

4. You're forgetting an important aspect about redemptions: In addition to the fees and how much award space is available (which is generally much better on the native metal of the FF program versus partner operated flights, so UA award space is better for UA miles than LH miles (not only alliance partner but also bilateral JV partner) than A3 or TK or TG miles, etc., you should consider ease of redemption. For instance, is there an English (or whatever you speak) language website available that works? Can most award tickets be booked on line or must you telephone your program (or worse, like with A3, send a message or email and wait for the reply?)? Are call centers open 24/7 and can you call them cheaply or for free? [Usuallly Skype solves the latter problem.] Do phone agents speak English (or your language) well? How are the hold times, especially for a customer of your elite level? How good are these phone agents and how willing are they to help, including going above and beyond or making exceptions for elites?
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Old Jul 14, 17, 4:18 pm
  #19  
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Originally Posted by ermintrude View Post
UA is currently a good choice if you can match to/maintain gold. Alaska (strong partnership with AA) is also a good choice and has arguably the best FF program of all US carriers. I would have thought those would be your two main choices considering your criteria.
I could match my oneworld Emerald to UA Gold, I would likely fall short in maintaining though, to do that I would need to move all my travel over to UA/*A which isn't a practical option. I will likely be a 35-40k/year Silver type with UA.

I can't credit UA to Alaska. Alaska predominantly has oneworld partners, not Star.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 4:22 pm
  #20  
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Originally Posted by chitownflyer View Post
With the assumption that you are resident in the US, do keep in mind that United has a minimum spending threshold in Premier Qualifying Dollars for earning elite status. For 2P(25K) $3000, 1P(50K aka Premier Gold) $6000, Premier Platinum(75K) $9000, and 1K $12000.

https://www.united.com/web/en-US/con...r/qualify.aspx


It may also behoove one to acquire the Mileage Plus Explorer card for earning double miles on United ticket purchases and earning bonus miles for reaching a minimum spending level upon signing up for the card.

https://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/Mar...tPartners.aspx
I am not a US resident and I am not allowed to charge tickets to a personal card.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 4:29 pm
  #21  
 
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Originally Posted by telescopic View Post
I am not a US resident and I am not allowed to charge tickets to a personal card.
If a long term goal is lifetime elite status, the United Million Miler Program will grant you lifetime Star Gold for flying one million miles only on United tickets and United flights(codeshares on other Star Alliance members do not count). Keep this in mind when selecting your frequent flyer program. Make certain to buy tickets directly from United and only buy United operated flights.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 4:44 pm
  #22  
 
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As a UK resident UA flyer, I think the UA programme is about the best for the OP's needs:

1. You get 100%PQM for miles flown in Y, even the cheapest Y

2. Gold gets you E+ which, whilst absolutely not PE, is an awful lot better than regular economy as every inch matters.

3. When you eventually earn enough miles, redemption for long haul is superb - only taxes to pay, availability is very good and many of the partner airlines are first rate. Whereas BA's programme has value in short haul, UA's is definitely long haul.

4. When you stop flying UA, it should be fairly easy to keep UA miles alive as, even if you don't fly any *A carriers at all in 18 months or rent from Hertz or stay at a Hilton, trivial things like donating some miles to charity will extend the life of all your miles.

It's not nearly as good as it was but, for a traveller to one of the few destinations in the USA which UA serves from LHR, it's much better than BA. Just don't expect upgrades to J if you are only Gold.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 4:45 pm
  #23  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
1. For fees/surcharges, while they differ among programs, they can also be different (generally much worse) for award tickets departing from Europe.

2. As a very general rule, the trend of for FF programs to give few if any miles for deep discount fares flown on partner operated/marketed flights.

3. The LH lounge access for those with status lower than SEN or *A *Gold applies only to a few lounges located in German airports and certain hubs like JFK where there's enough traffic to offer an additional lounge that's distinct and worse than the SEN lounge. Perhaps a bigger advantage is that LH tends to give lounge access to its own elites when traveling on carriers that are LH affiliates but hot *A members, such as German/EuroWings, IIRC Tyrolian, etc.

4. You're forgetting an important aspect about redemptions: In addition to the fees and how much award space is available (which is generally much better on the native metal of the FF program versus partner operated flights, so UA award space is better for UA miles than LH miles (not only alliance partner but also bilateral JV partner) than A3 or TK or TG miles, etc., you should consider ease of redemption. For instance, is there an English (or whatever you speak) language website available that works? Can most award tickets be booked on line or must you telephone your program (or worse, like with A3, send a message or email and wait for the reply?)? Are call centers open 24/7 and can you call them cheaply or for free? [Usuallly Skype solves the latter problem.] Do phone agents speak English (or your language) well? How are the hold times, especially for a customer of your elite level? How good are these phone agents and how willing are they to help, including going above and beyond or making exceptions for elites?
Indeed surcharges can vary by region and country, UK is particularly bad for example, and there are opportunities to minimize this but the more important was that there is a factor of multiples difference in programs e.g. on the same route for which UA wants $50-100 fee others will want $300-500.

I know the LH's lowest level lounges won't be amazing or everywhere but it was a benefit that stood out, even if it is something like AA's lounges with paid drinks and dried out carrots and celery. As a longtime oneworld member (mostly Gold, but occasionally Silver on an off year) Silver status not getting lounge access at *A is a big difference. In fact, Silver at *A is pretty meaningless but that is another topic. I did take a look on LH's website and saw available lounges for "Frequent Traveller" (Silver) at airports I would use e.g. LHR, IAD, EWR, etc. The other airline associations aren't relevant to my flying pattern.

I haven't forgotten availability and ease. I mentioned my experience of using UA's site compared to others like Asiana and Avianca. I don't need or expect elite level service on the little flying I'll do, so I'm not looking for particularly good service just making note of those that are particularly bad or difficult.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 4:47 pm
  #24  
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Originally Posted by telescopic View Post
My priority is to accumulate over several years and redeem as cheaply as possible (hence the title), without ridiculous surcharge fees, taxes, etc. on mid/long haul in Economy.....
These links give a guide of ff miles needed for awards. These may not be up to date.
Frequent flyer miles/points are not equal to or burn. They are not 1 to 1
If a multi segment award check the rules/cost carefully. With some ffp’s it can be 2 or more awards or cost more ff miles/points than a direct flight.
If the award is on partner airline it may cost more miles/points than an award on the ffp airline.
Some awards/airlines/routes can have cash surcharges, in addition to real taxes.
Some carrier imposed surcharges can trigger additional real taxes when the flight changes from non-revenue to revenue.
Real taxes/regulatory fees are the same for all airlines on the same route/class.

-AwardAce: Compare Award Redemptions Across Airlines In Seconds --> http://www.awardace.com/ Has surcharge indication
-Economical Excursionist's Tools to compare Frequent Flyer Mile Redemptions --> http://www.flyermiler.com/
-http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trave...ast-miles.html --> http://www.awardhacker.com/
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Old Jul 14, 17, 4:50 pm
  #25  
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Originally Posted by chitownflyer View Post
If a long term goal is lifetime elite status, the United Million Miler Program will grant you lifetime Star Gold for flying one million miles only on United tickets and United flights(codeshares on other Star Alliance members do not count). Keep this in mind when selecting your frequent flyer program. Make certain to buy tickets directly from United and only buy United operated flights.
Noted, although any lifetime status on *A is extremely unlikely for me and so a very small consideration. It would be the tie-braker before which program's color scheme I like most.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 5:00 pm
  #26  
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
As a UK resident UA flyer, I think the UA programme is about the best for the OP's needs:

1. You get 100%PQM for miles flown in Y, even the cheapest Y

2. Gold gets you E+ which, whilst absolutely not PE, is an awful lot better than regular economy as every inch matters.

3. When you eventually earn enough miles, redemption for long haul is superb - only taxes to pay, availability is very good and many of the partner airlines are first rate. Whereas BA's programme has value in short haul, UA's is definitely long haul.

4. When you stop flying UA, it should be fairly easy to keep UA miles alive as, even if you don't fly any *A carriers at all in 18 months or rent from Hertz or stay at a Hilton, trivial things like donating some miles to charity will extend the life of all your miles.

It's not nearly as good as it was but, for a traveller to one of the few destinations in the USA which UA serves from LHR, it's much better than BA. Just don't expect upgrades to J if you are only Gold.
Cheers, my thinking is also along these points. The one difference is I have relaxed any attempt to try to hit Gold on *A, mainly because there isn't a significant enough bonus premium over Silver unlike with BAEC for example. And if I can only be Gold with one, I'd rather have it on oneworld for my flying pattern. In this case, E+ from G isn't a benefit, the client pays for me and I won't otherwise use for personal unless it also exists on redemption.

As you say, UA for longhaul seems a good companion to BA for shorthaul, useful miles without much hassle to maintain.

Think it's a decision then.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 5:01 pm
  #27  
 
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Originally Posted by telescopic View Post
Noted, although any lifetime status on *A is extremely unlikely for me and so a very small consideration. It would be the tie-braker before which program's color scheme I like most.
Once one acquires Wanderlust, a person may be surprised at how often they travel.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 5:18 pm
  #28  
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In addition to the free Y+ seats, *Gold on UA gets you faster phone service and better IROPs handling and lounge access on *A international itineraries. In addition, there should be more RDM earning, elite lines (including on partner flights) for check in and bag drop, free checked bags (including partner flights), "fast track" type security and passport control in some airports, earlier boarding groups on most *A carriers, preferred seats on tag least some *A carriers, etc. They might not seem like major items, but the convenience adds up. You're also much more likely to get upgrades than Silver. It's not 1K or GS, but it's a big step up from Silver. On some flights, FAs might give you a bit of special attention, such as making sure that you get your meal choice.

If you're close, it can be worth the stretch to make sure that you get *Gold.

Also, you might be surprised at how the lifetime status miles can add up. While 1 MM might seem like a stretch now (and *Gold at that level is very generous indeed compared to most other programs), you could find yourself closer than you might have imagined after some years of travel. Of course, the MM program could be changed by then (for the worse), but don't dismiss this potential benefit totally.
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Old Jul 16, 17, 6:50 am
  #29  
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Originally Posted by chitownflyer View Post
Once one acquires Wanderlust, a person may be surprised at how often they travel.
True, hence why I am about 5 years from lifetime Gold with BA/oneworld, this is much harder than Million Mile with UA. However, UA/*A isn't going to be my main FFP so it is not a consideration for the next 10 years.
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