Which is the best/worst Frequent Flyer programme?Back to Forum
Anonymous24 Aug 2013
Whilst reading through a few forum topics I noticed the reoccuring, sometimes thread changing, subject of the dilution of BA gold Card status and its benefits.
So I thought I would start a new thread:
Which is the best/worst Frequent Flyer programme?
Now, I hold a BA Gold card, a KLM/AF Platinum card, a Singapore Airlines Gold card and I have just lost my Emirates Gold Status and SAS Gold status.
My BA Gold card qualification period starts in May and I have already passed the 1500 tier points mark so, even if I don’t take another flight with BA, I will get another card next year which will be valid until June 2015.
As I see it my choices are:
Stick with BA and see if I can go through the 5,000 threshold. Last year I achived 4800 points and although I flew LHR-SIN the week after my renewal date no amount of pleading would get me the elusive Guest List/Concorde Room status.
Concentrate my schedules around Skyteam to renew my KLM/AF Platinum status or Star Alliance to renew Singapore Airlines Gold.
Return to Emirates and get my Gold card back.
Give my allegiance to another carrier that I haven’t had any status with before – Virgin perhaps.
I commute between UK and Australia every 4 weeks, plus a lot of trips to US, as well as European flights and domestic flights in UK, US and Australia so there are plenty of routes/carriers I can utilise.
I must say that I agree with a lot of the comments regarding British Airway’s rapid, and seemingly unstoppable, downward spiral so I am keen to take my not inconsiderable business elswhere despite having had a Gold card in the Exec Club for many, many years. It used to be one of my prized possesions now it is an object of ridicule.
Any advice?24 Aug 2013
I don’t think there is one ffp that outshines the others in all areas. The 3 considerations I have are:
**longhaul rewards travel
**European rewards travel
It really depends on what and where you intend travelling. VS points, whilst providing excellent lounges in London and New York, rewards booking are generally limited to VS.
Longhaul bookings are a challenge whichever airline you are using, but for shorthaul, avios are absolutely brilliant and easily usable, for European travel as are Miles and More (although Miles and More have a slightly higher cost to use..)
There is always the option that some use, avoid the ffp cards and choose a cheaper ticket option.
For my travel pattern, mainly Far East/USA and Europe nothing beats avios / BA. Ok, longhaul is a challenge, but the gold card and European avios make the programme very attractive.
I am about to start using VS again due to some fantastic service recovery last week (separate report to follow).
Interesting question Goldcardsaplenty, but I don’t think there is a one card fits all….24 Aug 2013
I also have numerous gold cards, but with the progression Oneworld is making with its new partners it will now be my BA card as main choice.
I find as Martin says the European rewards almost a give away, the ability to upgrade paid tickets for not a lot of miles and general long haul redemption quite acceptable. Ok, some routes area struggle, but with a little flexibility I’ve always managed to get at least 2 F seats every year for vacation.
With AA upgrading their product for US travel and Malaysian Airlines now a partner and Qatar to join in October, there are plenty of Middle East, Asia and Australia options, besides BA.
As I have BA and QR gold cards, combining my travel with them (ignoring my Etihad gold) and I will be past 5,000 tier points in no time, needing only 4 flights with a BA flight number.24 Aug 2013
For me, flexibility is also a major consideration. I just had to cancel two European Avios bookings due to changed plans. No charges made, Avios recredited within 5 minutes and what they call ‘tax’ credited to my card within 2 days. Oh yes, and the telephone on the BA Gold line picked up after one ring…….24 Aug 2013
Interesting comments, I agree MartynSinclair, that there is currently no scheme that ‘fits all’ and this in itself is a shame because it is far better to use one scheme as much as you can to maximise the benefits. I have similar dilemmas with hotel loyalty programs but, in general, if you pick one and stick to it you will maximise your rewards. I find it more emotive to choose an airline program.
European awards is something I should probably look at more closely as, in the past, I have cherished my miles/points for long haul F travel. I firmly believe that this is where you can get maximum value for your miles. This now puts BA at a distinct disadvantage. Availability on long haul premium cabin using Avios is appalling. The only availability in F I have managed this year is to New York & Barbados. Last year the only availability was to New York and Barbados. I like New York and Barbados but would also like to go elsewhere.
I know a lot of people will say you have to watch the website closely, be flexible, be able to travel at short notice (the -72 factor) but my business committments and schedule do not allow this. I need to be able to plan in advance. Most other reward schemes allow this. As much as I detest flying KLM/AF there are always seats available on all routes if you book 6 months in advance. That cannot be said for BA.
I find the comment by first_class_please ‘the ability to upgrade paid tickets for not a lot of miles’ strange as I can NEVER upgrade my CW ticket to F as it is booked through an agent. Of course it is booked through an agent that is what they are there for; organising Business Travel. Why does that make any difference? It makes no difference whatsoever with KLM/AF/SQ/EK where an upgrade using miles is simple with agent bookings. It can even be done at check-in, with BA it has to be 24 hrs before. Why? And please don’t tell me it’s due to catering because I tried all last week to upgrade from CW to F on line, then rang Exec Club, then tried at check in at T5, then tried in the F lounge. The answer was ‘No’ but I was then offered a cash upgrade for £499 just 30 mins before boarding. Disgraceful.
I left Emirates 2 years ago after an appalling flight and woeful attempt at service recovery, I am starting to think I was a little hasty.24 Aug 2013
I find that Miles and More is the most usable scheme overall, in the sense that there is good availability.
BAEC is good for reward flight Savers, but long haul availability is very poor compared to M&M, it might be okay if you have flexibility (say the ability to book holidays on a variety of dates), but for business use it’s utility is marginal, at best.
My favourite FF programme is cash; get your flights at the best price possible (for the schedule required), trouser the difference and then buy the flights you want 🙂24 Aug 2013
TominScotland: appreciate your comments re European bookings. It is something I must look into but to be honest I always pay cash for European bookings as they are very reasonable as I don’t bother with the appalling Club Europe product if I am paying.
I also agree that the Gold Exec number is always answered promptly but sadly the answer to my request is always ‘NO’!
FormerlyDos: totally agree with comments on cash which, as stated above, is what I do for personal European travel. The case is different though for company paid longhaul premium travel which is what I do most. What I want in this instance is top quality product and maximum rewards.
Maybe I should simply give all my business to Singapore Airlines?24 Aug 2013
Goldcardsaplenty – 24/08/2013 06:47 GMT
I’m lucky, in the sense that I have complete power over all my flights (I operate a micro business), so the power of cash over a mix of long and short haul flights (110-30 per year) becomes highly significant.24 Aug 2013
I recall ages ago my Gold/Platiunum cards would give benefits with, for example, being a member of Avis’s President Club. Does this still happen today and if so that would be one of the deciding factors for me?24 Aug 2013
LuganoPirate: good point. Most schemes used to have strong affiliations with other providers such as hotels, hire car etc. Although it is true to say that they still do have partner schemes I find you can get almost identical perks, albeit much diluted, with all the Gold/Platinum schemes.24 Aug 2013
I used to have the same collection of FFP programs as you! BA, FB, KF! Now I only use AFKLM FB.
I like the overall program except the milage accrual, whereby you’ll only earn if you pay for higher classes.
Having said that, No FFP program can beat AFKLM FB, especially when it comes to miles redemption. You can burn miles from any point in the world to wherever you want (long or short haul) and they are always (95%) available. And their website also allow you to book other Skyteam members.
This is another reason why AFKLM FB won most of this year Freddie Awards. =)24 Aug 2013
My sense is that oneworld availability for Avios booking is improving greatly – my main direction of travel is Asia/ Australia and combining BA with CX, QF and MH gives fairly flexible options. Adding QR later this year will add many of the more unusual destinations I need to visit and it will be intereting to see how easy redemptions are.
Across the pond, I am looking forward to my first redemption with Avios for Aer Lingus Business Class flights to Boston and, if that works out, will certainly look for similar trips to Toronto, SFO etc.
Vertrek, KL/AF European redemptions are very expensive compared to BA. Yes, availability on longhaul is very good but seems to be rarely available on AF or KL – most of the options to Asia seem to be with China Southern.24 Aug 2013
Hi Vertrek; your comment on availability for redemption flights with KLM/AF FB are in line with my experience. If you plan ahead there is just about 100% availability. Even at short notice availability is good and I do enjoy being able to upgrade at check in. On the downside it means I am flying with KLM or AF which I do not enjoy.
TominScotland: strange to say but the wife and I had a really enjoyable flight with China Southern from Guangzhou to Amsterdam – brand new 777. Food and IFE were a bit bizarre but all in al a great flight.
As a footnote I would just like to say that whilst we ponder the best service in business class travel another helicopter has gone down in the North Sea, sadly, this time with fatalities. Sometimes we need to remember how lucky we are.24 Aug 2013
This has subject has been lead on here many times, but things change in the industry so quickly now, always good to review.
I also used to travel to Australia and Asia every 2 months, not as often as you GCAP! You must hardly ever see home.
For me, I ditched my VS Gold card after several awful flights, with some serious service problems that appeared to be growing. Etihad Gold also, as the stop in The Middle East broke up many of the benefits of traveling Biz class, splitting the journey into 2 sectors. Far better to have a 12 hrs sector to The Far East, that a 6 + 7 hr Journey, where you cannot sleep and time change effectively. Fine for 15 hrs to Sydney from AUH, but that is also an ultra long haul tough trip to make.
There have been in the last few years, major changes in the co-operation or amalgamation of some Airlines. Emirates now partnered with Qantas, in turn Qantas breaking ties with BA, This considerably lessens the One World strength once held for trips to Oceania.
Air New Zealand are almost inaccessible now from us in Europe since cutting back their HKG connections, and are quite a niche Airline serving a small specific area of the world.
Etihad have signed a 10 year agreement / co-operation with Air France KLM, open their own lounge at CDG, and are investing financially in many other Airlines, to gain Board influence, and bring together other Airlines, to match their strategy.
Virgin Atlantic need desperately to get into an Alliance, but they have done the same with Delta.
So, for me holding an Etihad or Virgin Gold card, will soon become pointless, as they will be integrated with membership, or reciprocal benefits into SkyTeam.
So for me the main issues for which Gold status to keep are:
– Hub base considerations (having to change split journeys).
– Airline strategy in terms of being alligned with one FFP.
– Options within one Alliance FFP to use different Airlines.
– The great variations in Mileage accrual on one partner or another.
– The accessory cards offered, for hotels, Car Hire, discounts services
– FFP mileage earning capability, flying, credit card spending, hotel stays, car hire that earn extra miles.
– Perks through these other alligned cards (hotel / car upgrades, discounts, priority service…)
– FFP spending capability with other Airlines, availability.
– Lounge standards (I think a very important perk we enjoy most)
– The recognition when you fly of your loyalty, reflected back to you.
– The Geography of where you need to fly most, and where the Alliance is stong or weak.
For me personally Skyteam suit best, but it is more tailored to my travel directions. I also like the fact that VS and Etihad are alligned and will soon have reciprocal benefits more established.
I also have gained an Accor Platinum card, and have had excellent welcomes upgrades every stay in all their brand hotel worldwide, which i have maintained for 5 years. I also received a Hyatt Gold card,
Hetz Gold card, and have several Amex cards that enable great mileage accrual with promotions and bulk gift points, able to convert to most Airline programs.
So, yes, the “Groups” of other services associated with SkyTeam, gives huge beneft, and many other cards come your way from the Group;s associated travel Companies.
The field ihas changed from 2 years ago considerably, and we have to consider which Airline in which Alliance to base your membership in, as this varies.
More complicated than it used to be, and with a view to changes ahead, for your Gold card choice. The Airlines should be working harder to reflect your loyalty in these hard times, but i see less miles earned, and more miles to fly these days, cutting back!24 Aug 2013