Which Star Alliance FF program?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by geoffb78, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. geoffb78

    geoffb78 Junior Member

    Jan 15, 2005
    48
    5
    I have recently broken my long-standing tradition of flying with Qantas and other OW partners and booked a RTW ticket with Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and United. My dilemma is choosing with FF program to "attach" to my booking. I have joined UA and Lufthansa's FF programs while trying to decide.

    Any suggestions regarding pros and cons of each choice? Also, does anyone know if I can change the "attached" FF details once the booking is fully paid for and ticketed?
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    Thanks

    Geoff
     
  2. aspro2

    aspro2 Member

    Nov 26, 2004
    151
    0
    MEL
    Hi Geoff. I'll answer in reverse: You can usually change your FF number in a booking anytime until you check in - whether the ticket has been issued or not plays no role. If you make a change, I'd suggest making sure that the correct number is entered in the system *before* the check in procedure is underway and boarding passes are issued.

    LH has changed its program to be increasingly unfriendly and lots of people are complaining about it. UA's is still the best Star Alliance scheme in many people's opinion, with the caveat that UA is still in bankruptcy protection so could go under... though the debate about that is enormous.
     
  3. pomjim

    pomjim Intern

    Aug 1, 2004
    86
    0
    Brisbane
    If you wish to use c/c points with your f/f prog, then NZ would be the best.
     
  4. clifford

    clifford Established Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    1,690
    216
    Canberra / London
    Hi Geoff,

    I concur with aspro, the UA Mileage Plus scheme is by far the best (unless most of your travel is in Business or First class, in which case go for SQ or LH). I don't think the new Air NZ scheme is a starter.

    One of the best things about Mileage Plus is the double miles bonus once you reach the Premier Executive level (50,000 miles flown in one year). You can then clock up rewards at a pretty fast rate, and it's also worth noting that awards to the Pacific (eg Rarotonga or Papeete) are only 20,000 miles.

    All the best,
    clifford.
    UA 1K, Million Miler (for many years).
     
  5. QF WP

    Moderator

    Jun 20, 2002
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    I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and say United Mileage Plus as well...
     
  6. infoworks

    infoworks Member

    Aug 11, 2002
    377
    9
    Sydney
    There are a couple of trick to FF programs.

    1. Fly on your preferred until you qualify (say QFF until you achieve Platinum) then SQ until you achieve PPS. This assumes very frequent flying like I do. I have my AX and other card points to allocate to the airline I decide to use for a free flight or upgrade.

    Make sure you know your annual renewal start dates.

    2. If flying SQ, and you out points to UA you will qualify with both airline programs. Again, it depends on how frequently you go where, but UA will award their Premier Execs ahead of other star alliance gold members.
     
  7. cssaus

    cssaus Active Member

    Dec 13, 2004
    894
    62
    Sydney
    Oh, please don't everyone say UA MileagePlus....It's going to ruin my chances in the future for upgrades :cry:
     
  8. dajop

    dajop Senior Member

    Jul 1, 2002
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    If flying J, I'd recommend taking a very close look at NZ's program. I am not a frequent * alliance flyer, but I should manage to get to * alliance gold on my next (second) trip to Asia - whereas if I put the points to SQ or UA I would have just made * alliance silver. Also the points earn rate (3 x discount Y) in J is much higher on NZ than the other two programs - and rewards can be earnt faster for this reason.
     
  9. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    A few questions.

    What class of travel is your trip? What is your RTW (29k, 34k, 39k)? What is your routing (there are some big differences in earning)?

    What future travel on *A will you do? Airline/route, class and frequency please (just roughly is fine)?

    How much do you value status benefits (*Gold benefits are similar across the *A FFPs but some are much easier to (re)qualify than others and some differences are quite valuable)?

    What do you want to spend miles earned on? Awards (where?), upgrades?

    What credit card spending do you want to earn miles (assuming significant) - ie what country is your credit card issued in?

    With the answers to these questions I can help provide a clearer answer to the merits of the various *A FFPs.
     
  10. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    I dont think its as clear cut as this.

    LH devalued a lot last August, but mainly for US-based and discount economy fliers. Its still a great deal for business and first fliers, and can be good for frequent fliers due to 2 year status.

    UA is good value if you fly mainly UA as their standard earning rate is mediocre but given a boost if for UA metal. Awards can be quite good in some cases.
     
  11. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
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    The extra miles on Mileage Plus are only flying on UA. Not so helpful if travelling around Europe, Asia or South Pacific.

    Since late last year, earning on NZ is now roughly as good as LH if flying business or first; and better if flying on NZ (needs to be whole itinerary though). Earning multiples on LH are 200% (225% for selected airlines) and 300% (325%) for business and first respectively; on NZ it varies by route but is around 250% and 400%; on SQ it is 125% (150% on SQ) and 150% (175% on SQ).
     
  12. kzkzkz

    kzkzkz Newbie

    Apr 5, 2005
    7
    0
    I'd like to jump on this bandwagon - I'm planning my first RTW trip on Star Alliance - 29K option, economy. I was wondering what the best program in the alliance to join would be. Travelling from Perth, my routing is as follows:

    PER-SIN-NRT (SQ)
    HND-ITM (NH)
    KIX-YVR (AC)
    YVR-SEA (AC)
    SEA-SFO (UA)
    SFO-DEN-OMA (UA)
    OMA-ORD-BOS (UA)
    BOS-[LGA-JFK]-LHR (UA)
    LHR-CDG (BD)
    CDG-MUC-FCO (LH)
    FCO-VIE (OS)
    VIE-CAI (OS)
    CAI-DXB-SIN (SQ)
    SIN-PER (SQ)

    Future travel - 1 to 2 trips to either UK or the US per year.

    What I value - never experienced lounges, priority check-in before, need to read up more on what value status benefits would be.

    Most interested in obtaining "free" travel (obviously!) to UK, US, Japan and maintaining points (will linked credit card activity prevent expiry?). I am just a pleb - would like to upgrade to international business someday :) Oh - and if they want to charge fees (QF) I dont want to know - I am not that hardcore a traveller.

    I thought SQ might be an obvious choice since they service perth, but with lots of friends in the US and the reviews I've read, UA was the other one in my head (bankruptcy...hmm)

    Any advice much appreciated.
     
  13. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    The good news is the *A RTW in economy is in decent booking class (mainly M IIRC) so get full econ earning on most (all?) programs.

    The bad news is 29K is not enough by itself to earn *Gold status, which is what you really need to get lounge access and extra baggage allowance. *Silver is possible on this trip, but benefits are fairly meagre on most programmes. However a RTW plus a couple of trips to europe or US each year should be enough for *G (at least on some programmes).

    I will check what you will get on NZ Airpoints on this itin, but note if no flights on NZ then there is an annual membership fee.

    On SQ Kris Flyer points expire after 3 years - you can pay $ to extend 6 months (IIRC) but in most cases its not worth it, and you cant extend multiple times.

    On NZ points expire after 4-5 years (start of 4th membership year after earning) with no possibility to extend.

    On UA points expire after 3 years inactivity so fairly easy to keep for extended time.

    Based in Australia there arent many options for linked credit card. Westpac links to NZ. ANZ links to SQ. Not sure exactly who Amex links to (other than definitely not NZ any more).

    Will post more on what you might get from this itin on various FFPs (will take me a while to calc - please be patient), assuming you currently have no status.

    It will help if can let us know your other paid travel - is it cheapest economy or higher fare economy? Point to point or dont mind detours (eg PER-SIN-LAX isnt the most direct but may be worthwhile if you are Kris Flyer member).
     
  14. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    Approximate miles (from http://gc.kls2.com)

    PER-SIN 2421
    SIN-NRT 3324
    HND-ITM 251
    KIX-YVR 4942
    YVR-SEA 127
    SEA-SFO 679
    SFO-OMA 1433 (assumes no stopover and same flight number through connection - UA has a lot of these but I havent checked if they do in this case)
    OMA-BOS 1282 (again assuming no stopover and same flight number through connection)
    BOS-NYC 187
    NYC-LHR 3451
    LHR-CDG 216
    CDG-MUC 425
    MUC-FCO 453
    FCO-VIE 484
    VIE-CAI 1469
    CAI-SIN 5136 (assuming no stopover as I know this is same flight number through)
    SIN-PER 2421


    Note official mileage used will likely differ slightly from this (and also from the *A RTW Mileage Calculator) - but this is a good guide.
     
  15. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    Earning on NZ Airpoints (in Australian Airpoints Dollars)

    PER-SIN 55
    SIN-NRT 35
    HND-ITM 25
    KIX-YVR 75
    YVR-SEA 25
    SEA-SFO 25
    SFO-OMA 25 (assuming single flight number and no stopover)
    OMA-BOS 25 (assuming single flight number and no stopover)
    BOS-NYC 25
    NYC-LHR 40
    LHR-CDG 25
    CDG-MUC 25
    MUC-FCO 25
    FCO-VIE 25
    VIE-CAI 65
    CAI-SIN 65 (assuming no stopover)
    SIN-PER 55

    Total 640 (*S = 400, *G = 800)

    This can be used to buy any flight costing A$640, or for longer trips towards purchasing discounted award tickets (eg PER-AKL-HNL = 585 one way).
     
  16. kzkzkz

    kzkzkz Newbie

    Apr 5, 2005
    7
    0
    Thanks for the reply.

    I downloaded the * Mileage Calculator - pretty useful planning tool, just walk into the travel agent and say "here you go".

    Just so that I understand you....

    So hypothetically (and in an ideal world) with activity, points I earn now on my RTW ticket as a UA FF could still be valid 10 years from now, whereas this could not be possible on the others?

    I checked the list of international credit cards on the UA website, and Australia isnt included...

    My other paid travel would most often be cheapest ecomony, though I'm not too fussed about detours.

    By the way, as far as I know SFO-DEN-OMA and OMA-ORD-BOS (no stopovers for both) do have different flight numbers - how does that affect things?
     
  17. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    That is a great tool. There are a few minor glitches in it to watch out for, and need to update regularly (for changes in RTW rules as well as changes in schedules).

    Yes as long as have activity every 3 years. This could be a flight, or even crediting miles from a hotel stay.

    There are other programs without strict mileage expiry, but in the case of KrisFlyer and NZ there is no currently way to keep miles for 10 years.

    For discount economy, NZ isnt a good scheme as it is heavily revenue based. UA Mileage Plus is quite good (especially when flying on their metal with status), TG Royal Orchid Plus is supposed to be very good. At least at the moment. There is a current trend to reduce earning on cheap fares. Note that cheapest fares on SQ do not earn mileage on any program.

    You will earn slightly more than I quoted - another 50 airpoints dollars in total.
     
  18. infoworks

    infoworks Member

    Aug 11, 2002
    377
    9
    Sydney
    Given the RTW, and your expected later US travel, then I think the UA program is probably best. Make sure all the airlines are SA linked and make sure they put your UA MP number in.

    As I understand it, notwithstanding UA bankruptcy problems, the FF program is actually profitable, so hopefully it will have some "legs". UA points are redeemable on SQ and TG (as well as other SA partners). e.g. TG fly SYD-AKL and I have used UA points for the kids on them, so there is some flexibility.

    Mostly you can only accrue points on credit cards linked to where you are domiciled. I would suggest AX Ascent, but it costs. They allow you to use points on nominated airlines including SQ and QF but not UA in OZ. As I use AX all the time, it's no biggie for me, and many of the bank/miles linked cards cost something now anyway.
     
  19. kzkzkz

    kzkzkz Newbie

    Apr 5, 2005
    7
    0
    Thanks for all the advice. I think I'm going to go with UA - it seems to be the opinion of many on the forum that redemption for awards is a strong point with this program.

    In a related question, I read one guy saying he needed 20000 Star Alliance Miles to travel MEL-AKL. After checking the UA Star Allliance chart at

    http://www.united.com/ual/asset/Star_Alliance_Award_chart_v2.pdf

    it states that an economy return within AUS/NZ is 20000 miles - Would this be possible from PER-AKL even though the mileage is DOUBLE that of MEL-AKL??
     
  20. infoworks

    infoworks Member

    Aug 11, 2002
    377
    9
    Sydney
    UA provide good info on thier site regarding mileage plus points. It's at least 60,000 for an OZ-US coach ticket, up to 120,000 for a first class award. Again, a lot depends on where you fly to, segments, saver awards, etc.
     
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