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Best Frequent Flyer Program?

(23 Posts)
Crowler Thu 27-Feb-14 09:00:27

What are your thoughts on what is the best program? We have found ourselves with pockets of miles across several airlines (Ethihad, United, Delta, & BA/Avios). I feel it's time to double-down on one of them by way of credit card/grocery store etc. Anyone more knowledgable than me about this, I'd love your view.

Bunbaker Thu 27-Feb-14 09:05:00

OH travels tens of thousands of miles a year and has found the best one to be Lufthansa. We never get to use the other air miles he accrues because their offers don't appeal to us - we don't fancy going to Dubai for instance, or they don't have an online shop.

Lufthansa has an online shop where you can spend your air miles and we "bought" DD an iPad for her birthday last year.

Crowler Thu 27-Feb-14 09:07:04

That's the Star Alliance program, yes? I find this not great for Europe, though? Do you do credit card/grocery integration?

Bunbaker Thu 27-Feb-14 09:24:57

I don't understand what you mean by your second question.

OH has thousands of Emirates miles, but we can only spend them by going to or via Dubai. As he only travels long haul these days the last thing he wants when going on holiday is another long haul flight.

He also has loads of Avios points, but we can never get flights or holidays that suit the three of us. Plus we can't go in term time.

Crowler Thu 27-Feb-14 09:30:32

He also has loads of Avios points, but we can never get flights or holidays that suit the three of us. Plus we can't go in term time.

By this do you mean that you can't book flights during term break because they're already taken? How far in advance do you normally try to book? This is bad news because we are by far most deeply into to BA/Avios.

Bunbaker Thu 27-Feb-14 09:32:08

There are never flights to the places we want to go to. The offers are usually things like weekends in Paris for two. a) I have been to Paris a few times and don't want to go back b) There are three of us

Crowler Thu 27-Feb-14 09:35:02

Ah so does Avios tend to be more for packaged deals? Have you tried booking via British Airways using them rather than Avios?

Bunbaker Thu 27-Feb-14 09:39:11

To be honest I haven't bothered looking at Avios communications for a quite a while because they haven't appealed so I can't answer your question.

What do you mean by credit card/grocery integration?

Crowler Thu 27-Feb-14 09:45:27

When you pick a program you can normally get a credit card to go with it, whatever you spend is a mile per pound or whatever. Whatever card you choose is normally then tied into a grocery store i.e. Avios is somehow tied into Tesco, my guess is you get double points or something like this, maybe you can elect for your Tesco points to be Avois points instead?

For example, my husband has a Lloyds CC and it's tied in with Avois, I just checked his account for the first time and he's got about 20K miles so I think I can transfer that into our family BA account. I've been stupidly using a non-Avois Lloyds card for 10 years and I want to change it to a miles-based one... hence my post.

You may have better luck transferring Avios into a BA FF account if you have one - also BA allows you to pool miles as a family. We just got around 40K miles for a family trip to Miami/Mexico, which I can use for a ticket (rather than 10K miles each).

Bunbaker Thu 27-Feb-14 09:52:01

The problem is that BA don't always fly to where we want to go, as we tend to avoid the obvious holiday destinations, and we don't want to fly long haul.

tibili Thu 27-Feb-14 09:54:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Crowler Thu 27-Feb-14 09:55:08

Sure. Interestingly, I have flown BA short-haul around Europe in recent memory at prices within spitting distance of the budget carriers - Stockholm and Edinburgh, and I think Amsterdam.

Do you tend to holiday in Europe?

Crowler Thu 27-Feb-14 10:02:21

I am slightly peeved at Star Alliance at the moment because I have a really, really old United number I've been using for 15 years - 500K lifetime miles. When they merged with Continental they morphed it into a new number, and I carried on using the old one - they recently took 40K miles of mine due to an "idle" period during which I was faithfully rattling my old number off to partner airlines (I know it by heart). They refuse to reinstate them.

Bunbaker Thu 27-Feb-14 10:30:23

Yes, we stick to Europe/UK because OH flies long haul all the time.

Your posts have made me think I need to look at this again, although we have already booked our holidays this year. I have often booked flights and hotels independently for OH and for us, but these days I CBA, and as we have a travel agent friend she books out holidays for us as she can get us cheaper than brochure prices.

So the last few holidays have been package deals. I find that having the transfer included saves us the hassle of getting to our destination, and this year we have booked taxi transfers so no messing around dropping off at other hotels en route.

Crowler Thu 27-Feb-14 10:55:25

Having a travel agent for a friend is better than any frequent flyer program!

That's another thing - hotels. Does your husband have a hotel program? I used to travel for work (in another lifetime) and I stayed at Marriott, and flew United, so my holidays were basically all free. Nice.

Bunbaker Thu 27-Feb-14 10:58:42

No. His clients book his hotels as they pick up the tab. They aren't part of a chain.

MillyMollyMama Fri 28-Feb-14 19:20:34

We have an Amex BA card and I convert all my Tesco club card points to Avios. We have had 4 companion flights in 3 years. I am writing this in India having just used the last companion voucher (1 'free' seat to match the main booking) to get us out here first class and back business class. This means we have spend a lot on the Amex card but these flights were thousands of pounds and we needed enough Avios for only one person, and therefore DH was 'free' except you have to pay the tax, in this case £1100 for the 2 of us. This scheme is well worth it for high spending individuals or high frequency flyers. We get the companion flights a year in advance so can plan. As you pay tax, short haul is hardly worth it but we have been business class to Japan, South Africa and Los Angeles, but not in term time. We have also upgraded to Seattle and San Francisco. It is very good use of Avios to buy business or first long haul as the comfort is so much better. £1100 would not get you one way business for one person to India so we like the Avios scheme.

BA fly to a lot of places and no going via Dubai. They usually have loads of short haul available but they will book via the phone for a fee and we have found this gives more offers and they have been very helpful.

Crowler Fri 28-Feb-14 19:40:00

Thanks MillyMolly. Why did you pick AmexBA rather than Amex Gold/Platinum?

NormHonal Fri 28-Feb-14 19:50:51

FWIW we used to do Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Amex, when both DH and I were flying to the US for work.

We have switched to BA now for both Exec Club and Amex so that we can do short-haul with the DCs - we are now limited to school holidays and finding long-haul flights in school holidays seems impossible.

We have BA Amex Platinum. The fee is outweighed by the savings on flights.

Also we don't find Virgin Upper Class seat configuration yes that's how we roll grin so good for young DCs, which is the stage we're at. BA Club World is easier.

Crowler Fri 28-Feb-14 19:53:34

Help me out here - I just got an Amex Platinum today, should I have gotten a BA Amex Platinum as I think we're doubling down on BA? Is there a difference?

Crowler Fri 28-Feb-14 19:54:30

And already I feel stupid for going for the platinum over the gold as it's 450 and it seems the only advantage is the club lounges, which you can pay your way into.

FoxtrotOscarBackToEconomy Fri 28-Feb-14 22:41:34

Head for Points is a brilliant blog on optimising collecting frequent flyer, frequent sleeper, credit card and groceries points for people based in the UK. It would be well worth spending some time on the website. You'll find plenty of info on the BA Amex regular AmEx strategies. Just the other day I saw something on how to convert small numbers of miles you have in a programme you don't use frequently.

The BA Executive Club page on FlyerTalk will tell you everything you need to know about redeeming Avios and the optimum redemptions. BA availability for redemptions on popular routes can be difficult particularly in school holidays, but if you plan a long way in advance you can find things.

You will find info on other airline programmes on FlyerTalk too.

Sorry for not posting links - I'm on my phone.

MillyMollyMama Sat 01-Mar-14 17:04:00

DH chose Amex BA. That sounds a bit lame, but he pays the bills on this one. I think it has or had no monthly charge but there is one with a monthly charge where you have to spend less per annum to get the companion voucher and we seriously need to check if that would be better value for us. Thanks for the advice FoxTrot. We will use the site you suggest. As we tend to book business or first we get the lounges anyway so no need for a card that gets these. Getting the companion flights and having enough Avios to go long haul business is our priority so it may be that establishing your pattern of use and needs is the first priority.

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