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Frequent Flyer Plans

Does anyone have a frequent flyer plan that they actually like?
11 years ago, January 11th 2012 No: 1 Msg: #150195  
I was with United for 10 years and easily reached gold status. Over the years I saw the benefits drop and status harder to reach. Last year, I earned 92,000 miles in various loyalty schemes, but fell 200 miles short of the required 50,000 for gold (they ended up giving it to me, but let me know that they were doing me a huge favor).

I tried switching to Delta and to Thai, but didn't earn miles on my first trip with each. Apparently I bought the wrong booking class - which is the best kept secret in the world. So, now I'm searching for a new plan.

In my mind, this should be simple: I purchase a ticket, fly the miles, earn the miles. When I get enough, the airline shows their appreciation by giving me an upgrade or free ticket for those miles! Why have they made it so hard to be a good customer? Any suggestions? (Since I fly around the world every year - I'm happy to go with any airline that will not completely frustrate me) Reply to this

11 years ago, January 11th 2012 No: 2 Msg: #150198  
Hello Kim, this is a very good question.

One of the easiest for accumulating points I found to be Qatar Airways, I reached their Burgundy Class after one return business class trip from Bangkok to Dubai - and the points last for five years.

Unfortunately, many of the better airlines only have a three year limit on points - such as Emirates and Singapore. I've actually just achieved Silver Status on Singapore Airlines (made it by 358 points - needed 25,000) and am likely to repeat that status in the forthcoming year. Qantas have points that never expire (as long as you accumulate some points every 2-3 years - I cannot remember exactly) but I don't fly them much nowadays.

Booking classes are a bit of a trick, I always book directly with the airline as the fare rules (does a fare earn points, can it be upgraded) usually appear on their website (well, it does with Singapore Airlines). Remember that if an airline is part of an alliance you can accumulate points on partner airlines as well.

As for using points, I think that it depends on the route, I always thought I'd use my points for an upgrade, but to book the class you need to effect the upgrade means that for not much more, you can get the trip for free. Unless it is a short flight (I used Emirates points to go from UAE to Yemen return) I will opt for either an upgrade or a business class ticket.

I am very impressed that a certain airline gave you gold status for being 200 miles short! Reply to this

11 years ago, January 12th 2012 No: 3 Msg: #150205  
Hi Shane - thanks for your response, some valuable information! I'm definitely going to look at Singapore more closely...

I should mention that I am looking for an airline that is part of one of the big alliances, so that I can get miles on every leg of my RTW. I also like upgrades, but United started charging anywhere from $50 - $500 co-pay, in addition to the required miles!! Let me also mention (to any United members) They are far more generous with other Star Alliance members' tickets - you can get business class for the same number of miles as economy on United - and with more seats available!

I look forward to hearing others experiences...
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11 years ago, January 12th 2012 No: 4 Msg: #150237  
I do almost all my flying using frequent flyer miles. Being based in the U.S. I am members of United, American and Delta. Normally, I would accrue miles on only one airline but ended up with three because:

United - this is my main airline with a hub near where I live; and also a member of the Star Alliance which gives me more seat availabily on partner airlines. I mostly accrue miles with them using my United Business Visa credit card to charge most of my living expenses, and paying the balance in full each month so as not to be charged interest. (Note: Having a business card also allows me to provide each of my "employee" children with a card where I can set their credit limits which they cannot exceed, and thereby can't incur fees, and I get a monthly statement with all their charges...great for controlling the spending by kids in college!)

Delta - I ended up flying to Uganda and earned 18,000 miles for flying. I didn't want those miles to go to waste by not having 25,000 miles required for a flight, so I got their credit card which gave me enough free miles just for getting the card to almost reach 50,000 miles. So I used their credit card to reach 50,000. Their points never expire so are sitting there waiting for me to use. Also a member of an airline partnership.

American - Another case where I earned 40,000 miles just to get their American Express card that I mostly use for purchases at Costco, which only takes American Express. Also a member of an airline partnership.

The good thing about United and American is that you can pay for one way using half the required number of miles, which really helps when you only want to go one way.

I recently used 35,000 miles on United to fly my wife and I to Honolulu, where we will take a cruise to Sydney (for which I can earn 20,000 miles if I book through United Cruises), and then I used 70,000 for both of us to fly back to the U.S. from Auckland, New Zealand on Air New Zealand for a total of 85,000 miles (taking into account the 20,000 miles for booking), instead of paying 140,000 round trip. Also, I recently used American to send my son to Bangkok on Japan Airlines for 35,000 miles. It's not that I don't want to bring him back, although that would be a side benefit, but I don't know when or how he wants to come back. He may want to fly Air Asia to Europe, and then I only have to use 25,000 miles to bring him back to the U.S. from there.

As for acheiving certain levels, such as Gold or Burgundy, with United I was Platinum, and was able to board first and often sit in seats up front with more leg room and not have to pay for a checked bag, but I would never use my miles for any upgrades...all miles are used for the next trip in economy.

I only use frequent flyer miles when I get at least $.02/mile value; i.e., if a ticket costs more than $500 for 25,000 miles or $1000 for 50,000 miles. If the flight is less than $500 then I pay for it and earn the miles. My best deals are on international flights. When I flew round trip to China and Thailand in 2009 I used 70,000, with China as the free stopover. Had I paid for the flight it would have been $3.700, so each mile was worth over $.05/mile.

As for being able to use miles, I plan trips well in advance. I book my seats 330 days in advance when the seats open, and even before 330 days where I then change the reservation as the actual date I want to fly opens up.

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11 years ago, January 13th 2012 No: 5 Msg: #150291  
Hiya, I'm with Qantas, Singapore and Cathay but we definitly use our Qantas points ALOT. But...i also have an ANZ Qantas Frequent Flyer credit card and i put through childcare fees through it and shopping and most bills so it gives me around 4000 points a month! My hubby flies from Perth to Melbourne or Sydney at least once a month with work and gets around 2800 points for those flights so without doing much we accumulate quite a lot. Handy! Using One World Qantas freq flyer points used to be worth quite a bit...when we flew to Hong Kong and Beijing on Cathay (also one world) we went business class as it was only 45,000 points. I was looking at Cathays flights the other day and i think a change in the value of Qantas points must have occurred as it was about 45,000 for economy one way!?! Reply to this

11 years ago, January 13th 2012 No: 6 Msg: #150316  
Redeeming Qantas points on Cathay Pacific costs a lot more points then if redeeming on Qantas flights. I used a whole bundle of Qantas points a decade ago to get a free business class trip from Brisbane to Dubai return on Cathay and for the same number of points I could have flown further on Qantas. However, Qantas don't fly to Dubai, so my choices were limited.

I suspect that Qantas have changed their redemption levels on partner airlines, so one requires even more points now. I vaguely remember receiving an email about this a year or so ago.

[Edited: 2012 Jan 13 20:15 - The Travel Camel:11053 ]
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11 years ago, January 17th 2012 No: 7 Msg: #150502  
Not everything is straight forward when it comes to frequent flyer programs.

I have hold, or some of my family have hold Star Alliance Gold on Lufthansa, United and Thai, Gold on Northwest, Diamond, Gold, Siver on Cathay, Platinum on AA...well, I think that's all for the higher tier. The list is just to give an idea that I went in depth to try to find the best mix.

First rule....what are you looking for, recognition by an airline? or free tickets?

Second rule, if you are after free tickets...go for a credit card which earn you miles, the US markets is by far the most developped in that field.

When you fly, is it business or economy...trust me, it makes a big difference...in business, Lufthansa give you a minimum of double miles, thai only a 25% bonus.

If you fly a lot, but on many different carries in a single alliance, you may prefer a US frequent flyer as they give you way more miles...doesn't mean you specially have to fly with them.

Thai will give you silver with 10,000 miles in a year, but for this, you don't get much...

Cathay will give you silver for 30,000 miles...but if you fly with them, at this level you already receive priority queing, 10 extra kilos, and better, access to their great lounge...but if you don't fly with them and fly with other carriers of Oneworld, not really useful...

My point is do your homework on how many flights you do a year...in which class...and than you do your shopping.

If you are a brit living in Australia, and fly once a year to UK...plus once a year to Asia, you do reach a level that get you into business lounges and even free up-grades....not that complicated to become a frequent flyer than...

If you fly less than a long-haul per year, forget about the frequent flyer, try to get the right credit card, and find the cheapest flights.

The best of the best, still by far for me is the Diamond on Cathay...not easy to reach, not easy to keep, but if like me your ticket always say economy....it's a great way to fly. Reply to this

11 years ago, January 18th 2012 No: 8 Msg: #150587  

In response to: Msg #150195 I have encountered the same problem and I've learned to sell frequent flyer miles. Although this practice is not always done, I use the cash earned to buy the ticket that I want, when I want it, and the payouts are sometimes very good! Reply to this

8 years ago, January 25th 2015 No: 9 Msg: #188252  
In response to: Msg #150195 I had the same problem when I switched from BA to AA... From what I've gathered, airlines today are devolving their free miles and loyalty programs, making ticket discounts harder to get for even the most loyal flyers. My guess is that it's a part of global economical recession and they are just trying to save as much as they could, even if it means losing some of their loyal customers.

For more efficient flyer points managing I've been using services from this company: <snip>
[Edited: 2015 Jan 26 10:50 - traveltalesofawoollymammoth:258356 - No commercial links please, privately message the blogger for further information]
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