When it comes to frequent flier programs, it might seem like a good idea to join them all. After all, what can be a better way of ensuring that you reap all benefits of each and every program out there, rather than having to restrict to benefits of one lone program. Tempting as it might be, joining all loyalty programs is not a smart thing to do.
In this article, our UNIGLOBE experts guide you through opting for the frequent flier program that’s ideal for you. They’ve listed the key questions you need to be asking while settling for a program.
How They Award Miles?
Traditionally, airlines bestow miles based on the distance of a given flight. For example, under Flying Returns, the frequent flyer program from Air India, you accrue miles based on sector (national or international) and the booking class.
How You Want to Use Miles?
Earning points is, well, pointless if you can't exchange them for the travel you want. If you want to redeem for expensive flights, especially in business and first class, you'll want to accrue points in a zone-based frequent flyer program. If you travel economy and during peak periods, and have little flexibility (and want to redeem for multiple tickets on the same flight), revenue-based award programs might be more valuable.
With Emirates, you can spend your Miles on flights with partner airlines, or with their partners in hospitality, car hire, finance, lifestyle and retail. You can even indulge in a luxury hotel suite; adventure out with the family on a day trip, for sporting fun or to a theme park; whisk loved ones away for a surprise break; or purchase vouchers you can use towards brand-name shopping or a spa treatment.
What are the Taxes and Fees?
Some programs are worse than others when it comes to bogus fees and "fuel surcharges." So, don't just focus on the cost of trips in miles—also take extra charges into account when deciding what program is best for your particular redemption.
How strong is the Airline's Global Network?
Most of the big carriers are part of a major airline networks. Not all alliances are created equal—each one has its strengths and coverage gaps. In addition to alliance partners, airlines also have "other airline partners" that can make their program valuable. So, before you settle for a program, do gauge the strength of the airline’s global network.
What are the Program Quirks?
Each carrier has unique rules that can be deal-breakers for travelers. Some of the biggest are:
- not allowing you to change award tickets within 72 hours prior to departure
- banning all first-class international redemptions on partners
- charging more miles for awards on partner airlines
Look out for these!
Carefully mapping on a program against each of the questions listed above will provide you with a clear vision of your frequent flyer strategy. “If you lack a clear vision with your frequent-flyer strategy, it can be really difficult to accumulate enough miles to redeem for anything. We recommend focusing on a program that aligns with your travel goals, so you're more likely to reap valuable rewards. There is no one "best" frequent flyer program—but there may be one that is best for you. When choosing, take into account your travel habits, what types of fares you purchase and what trips you want to take, and each program's strengths and weaknesses,” concludes our UNIGLOBE expert.
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