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Best Alliance For Around The World Travel?  
User currently offlineflyinghippo From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 684 posts, RR: 1
Posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4158 times:

A good friend of mine just got a new job as a senior executive with a private financial firm, which will require a significant amount of travel to major financial centers around the world (All in biz class... lucky him).

To his surprise, their travel department allows him to choose any airline he wishes to use (no corp contracts). So he is asking me which alliance he should focus his travels on.

NYC is his origin - He prefers JFK since he lives in Long Island, but EWR won't bother him that much if he can catch a flight directly from his office in Manhattan.

Starting in June, he will need to travel to the following cities, and he will usually go to 2-4 cities at a time. (This list is ordered by the expected frequency)

LHR
HKG
SIN
FRA
NRT/HND
SYD
PVG
DXB - on occasion

After doing some searches for him, including "Around the world" apps in all three alliances, I am about to recommend One World to him since they have the most direct and frequent flights to/from/between each of those cities. Since my "aviation nut" reputation is on the line, I want to post this here and get everyone's input so I can give him my best recommendation.

Is anyone in this forum that does around the world trips frequently? What are your recommendations?

Thanks for your inputs!

[Edited 2013-03-13 10:17:11]

[Edited 2013-03-13 10:19:03]

16 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20474 posts, RR: 62
Reply 1, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4121 times:

Flying in Business Class with any frequency, there's really no reason to align oneself to any alliance. One basically gets nearly all of the perks one would get from status, such as lounge access, priority boarding, etc., by virtue of the ticket.

Anyone buying tickets such as these should simply go with the best schedule, seat, and onboard service. Mid-to-high level status across a couple of alliances should come naturally.



International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 25043 posts, RR: 46
Reply 2, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4101 times:

How about look at what alliance can get him nonstop to all those destinations today from NYC.

LHR - Star/OW/ST
HKG - Star/OW
SIN - Star
FRA - Star/ST
NRT/HND - Star/OW/ST
SYD - None nonstop, but all 1-stop
PVG - Star/ST
DXB - None nonstop, but all 1-stop

So totals:
Star - 6/8
ST - 4/8
OW - 3/8

From NYC seems Star is the big winner. OneWorld is last.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineflyinghippo From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 684 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4028 times:

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 2):
So totals:
Star - 6/8
ST - 4/8
OW - 3/8

From NYC seems Star is the big winner. OneWorld is last.

Thanks for the input - I was thinking the same until I looked at connections between those cities - he will travel between LHR, HKG, NRT and SYD quite often, and OW seems to offer the best options for him in terms of direct flights, but your point is definitely valid.

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 1):
Flying in Business Class with any frequency, there's really no reason to align oneself to any alliance.

He wants to get status with an alliance to leverage lounge/upgrades when he travels econ with his family.  


User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20474 posts, RR: 62
Reply 4, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3985 times:

Quoting flyinghippo (Reply 3):
He wants to get status with an alliance to leverage lounge/upgrades when he travels econ with his family.

How many trips is he making per year? 66K in Business on AA or partners is enough for Executive Platinum. Then he could put the remaining miles on Star Alliance, where he could get at least Star Gold with only 34K miles with the class of service bonuses. No airline is going to upgrade his entire family anyway. Spreading out miles also gives him more options, especially using one-way awards, when it comes to actually finding space to redeem for vacation tickets.

If you read any of the FF boards with regularity, you'll find that most people are coming around to this idea. Airlines are moving towards a transactional style of reward, rather than long-term loyalty for reward. Even UA has this month removed most of its Global First inventory away from free travel benefits, and coded it for upgrade usage, meaning you have to buy at least Business to get into GF.



International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineflyingalex From Germany, joined Jul 2010, 1016 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3932 times:

My advice would be to go with both oneworld and Star Alliance. If he'll really travel that much, he'll get status in both alliances.

If it's upgrades he's after, then he should look towards US-based programs, because those tend to have the most generous upgrade rules. (AA and UA in this case)

For lounge access, even on domestic trips, you need to look at FFPs of foreign airlines. US-based programs don't offer lounge access to their elite members on domestic trips.

If he's willing to look abroad, then based on his flying pattern I would recommend British Airways Executive Club for oneworld, and SAS Eurobonus for Star Alliance.



Public service announcement: "It's" = "it is". To indicate posession, write "its." Looks wrong, but it's correct grammar
User currently offlineflyinghippo From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 684 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3903 times:

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 4):
Spreading out miles also gives him more options

Thank you! I think that's the recommendation for him! OW (for LHR/HKG) and Star (FRA/SIN).


User currently offlineLDVAviation From United States of America, joined Dec 2008, 1055 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3903 times:

Quoting flyinghippo (Reply 3):
Thanks for the input - I was thinking the same until I looked at connections between those cities - he will travel between LHR, HKG, NRT and SYD quite often, and OW seems to offer the best options for him in terms of direct flights, but your point is definitely valid.

If this is indeed the case, have him call the AA "Round the World" Desk. I think that is what it is called. AA has two mile-based products which allow multiple connections through oneworld and/or partner hubs on a round-the-world itinerary.


User currently offlineflyingalex From Germany, joined Jul 2010, 1016 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3888 times:

Quoting LDVAviation (Reply 7):
If this is indeed the case, have him call the AA "Round the World" Desk. I think that is what it is called. AA has two mile-based products which allow multiple connections through oneworld and/or partner hubs on a round-the-world itinerary.

Round-the-world tickets have a minimum trip duration requirement of two weeks, and that makes them difficult to use on business travel.



Public service announcement: "It's" = "it is". To indicate posession, write "its." Looks wrong, but it's correct grammar
User currently offlineflyinghippo From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 684 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3827 times:

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 4):
If you read any of the FF boards with regularity

What are some of the better reputable FF boards? I'll send it to my friend.

Thanks!


User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20474 posts, RR: 62
Reply 10, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3799 times:

Quoting flyinghippo (Reply 9):
What are some of the better reputable FF boards?

FlyerTalk is the best-known: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/airline-programs-374/



International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineLDVAviation From United States of America, joined Dec 2008, 1055 posts, RR: 5
Reply 11, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3665 times:

Quoting flyingalex (Reply 8):
Round-the-world tickets have a minimum trip duration requirement of two weeks, and that makes them difficult to use on business travel.

It is 10-days for the AA products and they make a lot of sense if you are on a business project that involves meetings in more than one oneworld hub (over those 10 days).

Where those products might not benefit the friend of the OP, is that they have restrictions on backtracking between city-pairs, such as LHR and HKG.


User currently offlinemercure1 From French Polynesia, joined Jul 2008, 1351 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3429 times:

I would believe the consider of options out of his home city of New York needs to be very important. Based on list above Star seems to be the best fit to reach his destinations directly.

But like others, I also think having relations with 2 alliances probably make his travel the most convenient. Being able to mix/match airlines will help find nonstop options for more city pair combinations and avoid always back tracking via single alliance hub when nonstop is not available.

So considering many cities listed at OW hubs also, probably a mixed focus on Star and OW is best for your friend.

Also I believe Skyteam is worst when it comes to FF program and benefits. Both Star and OW seem more practical especially in ability to eventually redeem points.


User currently offlinegemuser From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 5627 posts, RR: 6
Reply 13, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 3373 times:

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 2):
So totals:
Star - 6/8
ST - 4/8
OW - 3/8

From NYC seems Star is the big winner. OneWorld is last.

Some points about this list that may influence your friends choice:

1) SIN: The non stop is ending a few months after the start of the OP friends job, so SIN is really one stop on all .

2) SYD: While there is no non stop, OW does offer the only same plane service (on QF) much, much easier than connections, even within an alliance.

3) Almost any combination that includes SYD will be easier on OW. There are NO Star or ST carriers on SYD-HKG or SYD-NRT

My $A0.02 worth

Gemuser



DC23468910;B72172273373G73873H74374475275376377L77W;A319 320321332333343;BAe146;C402;DHC6;F27;L188;MD80MD85
User currently offlinemhkansan From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 674 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (1 year 5 months 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3201 times:

Quoting flyinghippo (Thread starter):
LHR
HKG
SIN
FRA
NRT/HND
SYD
PVG
DXB - on occasion

JFK-LHR can't be beat on AA/BA for schedule and J availability. OW is the real winner here.
JFK-HKG is only flown by Cathay nonstop, a OW carrier, and also has same-plane service via Vancouver or connecting service via ORD on AA which gives some added frequency and flexibility.
JFK-FRA is clearly Star's market, served by LH, DL, and SQ. AA/OW will have you connect in LHR.
JFK-NRT/HND has better frequency and service on JAL and AA.
JFK-SYD, as mentioned earlier, is well served on AA/QF.
JFK-PVG is the only route with a clear ST preference since they've got the only nonstop. AA offers connections via ORD, LAX, and NRT.
JFK-DXB. One stop via all alliance carriers.

I think there is a pretty clear choice for those business markets. AA doesn't do much to Europe, but if London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong are high on his list OW has a good edge on schedules and the consistently-rated best frequent flyer program in the US.


User currently offlinerwy04lga From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 3176 posts, RR: 8
Reply 15, posted (1 year 5 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 3178 times:

If he's based in NYC, Delta (SkyTeam) is the best option. It practically owns LGA and has a very large operation at JFK. The new SkyClubs at LGA Terminal C and JFK Terminal 4 should be enjoyable, and the SkyClub at NRT is one of the nicest clubs anywhere.


Just accept that some days, you're the pigeon, and other days the statue
User currently offlineLonghornmaniac From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 3284 posts, RR: 44
Reply 16, posted (1 year 5 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 3163 times:

Quoting rwy04lga (Reply 15):

If he's based in NYC, Delta (SkyTeam) is the best option.

Laughable.

Quoting rwy04lga (Reply 15):
It practically owns LGA

Which is exactly zero help on an RTW trip.

Quoting rwy04lga (Reply 15):
The new SkyClubs at LGA Terminal C and JFK Terminal 4 should be enjoyable, and the SkyClub at NRT is one of the nicest clubs anywhere.

And none of them compare to the T5 BA Lounge in LHR, the QF F lounge in SYD, or the suite of CX lounges in HKG. And to the best of my knowledge, the AA AC/FL in T8 is considered to be the best JFK lounge among the US carriers.

Skyteam is simply the worst of the three alliances for the purposes of RTW connectivity.

The lack of a presence in Oceania or South America (AR doesn't count) pretty much ensures this.

One thing to consider about JFK...I think too many people are making too big a deal about who flies where from JFK. Outside of London (and arguably even more than London), New York is the city that every airline flies to (not literal...but you should get my point). NYC and London are truly in their own class when it comes to international connectivity, meaning from almost any major city at almost any point on the globe, you can get to NYC and London extremely easily.

A bigger deal with RTW trips should be made not on the origin city, but the connectivity between the cities you want to fly to.

How many nonstop city pairs have alliance hubs (meaning increased schedule flexibility) on each end?

For this, oneworld is the clear winner:

LHR-JFK/HKG/NRT/SYD/DXB (thanks to QF's routing of their Kangaroo routes via DXB now). That's 5
HKG-NRT/SYD/JFK. That's 3 more.
NRT-SYD/JFK That's 2 more.

So of that city set, oneworld will have the best flexibility/frequency on 10 city pairs.

Star only has 5.

NYC-FRA/NRT
FRA-NRT/SIN
NRT-SIN

Skyteam has 3 (if you credit DL with having a hub at NRT...which is iffy, IMO).

PVG-NRT/JFK
JFK-NRT

Next, let's examine which city pairs you cannot fly nonstop/direct (same plane) to (with running tally at the end of the line). Anyone feel free to correct any mistakes:

oneworld:

JFK-SIN/PVG/FRA/DXB (4)
LHR-(nil) (4)
HKG-(nil) (4)
SIN-PVG/FRA/DXB (7)
SYD-FRA(8)
FRA-PVG/DXB (10)
NRT-DXB (11)
PVG-DXB (12)

Star:

JFK/NYC-PVG/DXB/SYD (3)
LHR-HKG/SYD/PVG (6)
HKG-SYD (7)
SIN-(nil) (7)
SYD-FRA/NRT (9)
FRA-(nil) (9)
NRT-DXB (10)
PVG-DXB (11)

Skyteam:

Not even going to bother, it's a lot.


So oneworld and Star are clearly the two best choices. Personally, I'd still go with oneworld for the first point I made. Having hub-hub flights on twice as many flights can be extremely beneficial, in terms of flexibility.

And the last point:

oneworld has hubs in 5/8 of the cities listed, including the three cities anticipated to be visited the most (JFK/LHR/HKG)
Star has hubs in 5/8 (though PVG is a secondary CA hub) of the cities listed, but only 1 of the three cities anticipated to be the most visited (NYC)
Skyteam has hubs in 2.5 (counting NRT for DL as 0.5).

Cheers,
Cameron

[Edited 2013-03-17 10:44:01]

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