Air-miles are a crucial part of any frequent flyer’s artillery. Whether they’re used for upgrades or free flights, they can save you tons of money if used right. With that in mind, here are my favourite frequent flyer programs, and reasons why I love them. Hopefully from this, you can make your own decisions on which to join.
British Airways Executive Club (oneworld)
Devaluations of oneworld airlines’ air miles have been rife in the recent past, and, although Avios (BAEC’s currency) has undergone the same fate, they are still a great frequent flyer program to enlist in. Firstly, their statuses (Bronze, Silver and Gold) have reasonable thresholds. In other words, you don’t have to be racking up thousands of miles a week to qualify. The statuses themselves offer generous perks, such as priority check-in and boarding for Bronze, lounge access at Silver, and spa treatments at Gold.
I also love the fact that your Avios never expire, so long as your account remains active (a transaction every two years), and you can share Avios between your whole family. A combined account is a lot more valuable than many single accounts. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that redeeming Avios for premium cabins on British Airways may be underwhelming, given their quality of hard product, which lags significantly behind their competitors.
British Airways’ Business is a minimum of 7-across
American Airlines’ AAdvantage Program is very similar in style to BAEC, though, living at the other side of the pond, I find the latter more useful. AA are soon moving to a revenue based system, meaning if you buy cheap tickets, this will put you at a distinct disAAdvantage (ha…ha…). They are definitely the pick of the oneworld FF programs.
Singapore Airlines Krisflyer (Star Alliance)
It’s no secret that Singapore Airlines is my favourite airline. In my opinion, their service and cabin products trump any other airline. Fortunately, their Frequent Flyer program is pretty good too. Again, they have reasonable status thresholds, though unfortunately the benefits aren’t as generous for the low statuses. SAKF offers a 15% discount on the number of miles required for a redemption flight when you book online via their website. This is very useful and generous. You can also mix miles and cash if you have at least 50% of the required miles, by purchasing the remaining miles at SGD40 per 1000 miles. Singapore Airlines pretty much only offers award seats to SAKF members, so this will be the only feasible way of flying Singapore Airlines on miles.
Unfortunately, your miles will expire after 2 years, so you need to have a plan in mind of how to spend them before they do. Also, only flights you fly yourself count towards accumulated miles, though you can nominate up to 5 nominees to spend your miles on. SAKF also has a revenue based status program called PPS, which you qualify for after spending SGD25,000 (50,000 for PPS Solitaire[!!]). Of course the benefits are jaw-dropping, but so is the price tag.
While the above are the two I use the most, here are some other worthy mentions from the 2016 Freddie Awards:
- Avianca Life Miles – A somewhat unusual choice, but they often have great deals on buying air-miles for the super-cheap. They also have a huge variety of Star Alliance airlines to accrue and redeem miles on.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards – A good choice for the budget-conscious traveler based in America. The miles can be used for any available seat on a flight, and there are no blackout dates, making it more likely that you get the flight you want. Mileage costs vary significantly, however. SWRR is a revenue based system, as has become the unfortunate norm in North America.
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue – Offers generous promo awards which can significantly reduce the number of miles required. They also have tons of award seats available for each flight, making it ideal for family/group travel.
The best Frequent Flyer program is one that you can use. If you fly a particular airline a lot, be it for work or leisure, it will probably be the best one to join. If your travel is across a wide range of carriers and alliances, consider narrowing your selection down, and join an appropriate program. You could reap the rewards.
What’s your favourite program and why?
Let us know down below!