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tsully
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Star Alliance FF Question

Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:57 pm

Hi all,

Just a quick question re: FF programs at Star carriers. I understand that you can accrue/redeem your miles on/with any Star airline. Say for example you fly Singapore Airlines, but you want your miles credited to your United Mileage Plus account. Then you could even redeem your United miles for a seat on SAS.

When it comes to upgrades, am I correct in that you may not use your miles from one carrier to upgrade your seat on another? (eg. use ANA miles to upgrade your seat on Thai).

Finally, when it comes to redeeming your miles from airline 'A' for a seat on airline 'B', I understand that each carrier sets its own rules. So my biggest question is this: with which Star Alliance airline should I choose to bank my miles? I fly a number of them frequently (Asiana, United, Lufthansa, Singapore, Thai) but I have never kept very good track of my miles.

I'd like to bank my miles with whichever airline has the most hassle-free redemption process...particularly if I want to use my miles for reward travel on another airline. Any suggestions? Which airline would be the best to bank with?

Thanks much.

tsully
I love America. I guess that makes me Bush's poodle, but I'd rather be a dog in New York City than a prince in Riyadh.
 
Simpilicity
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:12 pm

Quoting Tsully (Thread starter):
I'd like to bank my miles with whichever airline has the most hassle-free redemption process...particularly if I want to use my miles for reward travel on another airline. Any suggestions? Which airline would be the best to bank with?

Work out to what destination you want to use miles & then that should help u decide.

UA's Mileage Plus is very generous, but make sure they fly where u want to go.

Many of our clients have millions of QF ff points & want to go to Canada & up until now QF points would get you to LAX or DFW, but not to YVR unless via HKG or long way via DFW. Silly when you realise that they flew QF to get points which wouldn't get them to where they wanted to go easily.

Also you should not assume that points/miles on one airline will get u upgrades on another.

Some of Star Alliance airlines programmes are VERY different. NZ makes out there's is more user friendly but u end up paying out lots of money & points for published fares, when there are special netts around that can't be used for redemption or part redemption.
 
Al
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Joined: Tue Jun 08, 1999 10:28 pm

RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:31 pm

If you're based in the U.S. then you should probably look at UA, US or AC schemes. More opportunity to earn from "associated partners" (phone companies, Banks etc) is one benefit.
Each * scheme is different from the others - the exception being the LH led Miles & More scheme operated by several of the partners in Europe.
Alliance wide upgrades are being slowly rolled out - currently the miles in the host scheme of a few of the partners can claim an upgrade on other participating partners, with the full rollout alliance-wide expected by end of 2006.

Whichever one you think may be good for you, read all the fine print carefully. Some partners don't pay any or don't pay 100% mileage on some fare classes or for travel within some regions for example. Read up on the host scheme of the carrier you are interested in, but then go to their pages on earning on the partners and trawl through them.
For what it's worth, there is a good Star Alliance forum on flyertalk.com where a search of "Best Star FF Scheme to Join" type search will turn up some very good answers for you. General consensus seems to be AC, BD and LH as easiest to get Star Gold status on, but others are better for redeeming rewards etc. Each person's situation is different however and what may be the norm for most is nowhere near acceptable for others.
Cheers.
 
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Zkpilot
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Thu Mar 16, 2006 10:04 am

Quoting Simpilicity (Reply 1):
Some of Star Alliance airlines programmes are VERY different. NZ makes out there's is more user friendly but u end up paying out lots of money & points for published fares, when there are special netts around that can't be used for redemption or part redemption.

Some of that may be true, but the beauty of NZ's Airpoints Dollars FF scheme is that you can book any seat, any flight, any time, for the same price as listed ie 1 Airpoints Dollar = $1.
64 types. 45 countries. 24 airlines.
 
Simpilicity
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:24 am

Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 3):
Some of that may be true, but the beauty of NZ's Airpoints Dollars FF scheme is that you can book any seat, any flight, any time, for the same price as listed ie 1 Airpoints Dollar = $1.

what do NZ do with seats that would normally be f.f. seats that they now can't or have lots of trouble selling? Sure they might be available in other f.f. programmes, but it still doesn't help NZ's bottom line much & they need to be selling these seats even if only to freqeunt flyer's.
 
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Zkpilot
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:59 am

Quoting Simpilicity (Reply 4):
what do NZ do with seats that would normally be f.f. seats that they now can't or have lots of trouble selling? Sure they might be available in other f.f. programmes, but it still doesn't help NZ's bottom line much & they need to be selling these seats even if only to freqeunt flyer's.

Well the idea is that they have the right aircraft for the right flight now so they don't do the whole overcapcity like many airlines do. It encourages people to stay loyal to NZ because it is one of the better if not the best (it has been voted so) for redeeming points. Instead of having a liability of billions of miles that people have built up, NZ has reduced this liability significantly. Whats the point of having miles if you can never redeem them? As for the seats that they struggle to sell they simply increase the number of supersaver fares available (which people can pay for, OR use their airpoints to purchase). Correct me if I'm wrong in saying this but accounting 101 would say that if you have less liabilities then you can get a better credit rating, better credit rating means cheaper finance, cheaper finance means lover overheads and more profit $$$  Smile
64 types. 45 countries. 24 airlines.
 
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fbgdavidson
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:22 pm

I'd say BD Diamond Club is a pretty decent option. Don't let the fact the airline is a bit of shambles of late put you off the FFP itself. They have woefully low thresholds for *A Silver and *A Gold (16k miles and 38k miles) and they have an excellent Part Miles Part Cash redemption scheme. For example I got my girlfriend IAD-LHR-IAD in UA C Class for 37,500 miles + £210  thumbsup  http://www.flybmi.com/bmi/src/html/diamondclubhowtospendmiles.html

Of course this does depend on how long BD is in Star Alliance...or an actual airline for that matter  Wink

And don't worry about the fact US isn't listed as a country of residence, as BD fly to ORD you should be able ot justify to them the need for an account. I've read on Flyertalk it is quite possible.
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
Ozair
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:30 pm

Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 3):
Some of that may be true, but the beauty of NZ's Airpoints Dollars FF scheme is that you can book any seat, any flight, any time, for the same price as listed ie 1 Airpoints Dollar = $1.

Doesn't NZ charge a yearly fee to be part of the FF program. I would certainly forget the upgrades and go with UA or other where you pay nothing to join and maintain your status.

If you fly around Asia I would say Krisflyer. They have not only the Star Partners but alot of other airlines such as DL and VS.
 
Simpilicity
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:32 pm

Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 5):
Well the idea is that they have the right aircraft for the right flight now so they don't do the whole overcapcity like many airlines do. It encourages people to stay loyal to NZ because it is one of the better if not the best (it has been voted so) for redeeming points. Instead of having a liability of billions of miles that people have built up, NZ has reduced this liability significantly. Whats the point of having miles if you can never redeem them? As for the seats that they struggle to sell they simply increase the number of supersaver fares available (which people can pay for, OR use their airpoints to purchase). Correct me if I'm wrong in saying this but accounting 101 would say that if you have less liabilities then you can get a better credit rating, better credit rating means cheaper finance, cheaper finance means lover overheads and more profit $$$

Had a case recently, where client looked at getting a ticket on NZ using some of their NZ ff points. It was going to cost them more $ & ff points than the fare we got them on exactly same flights !!!

FF programmes designed to get rid of unsaleable (without spedning more money advertising a cheap fare & bastardising the price even more) seats, at unpopular times or on milk runs whatever.

If as with most other programmes, pax redeemed these seats they wouldn't have the liabilities you discuss.

Anyway, the US carriers who started f.f. programmes are trying to find ways to wind them up without pissing off too many people.

In Australia due to changes in the banking system, the fees that banks can charge each other have been reduced, so don't earn anywhere near as many points as previously & Australia is quickly turning into a cash economy, as people seek to avoid our incredible tax burden. You can get cash discounts on just about everything these days, except when dealing with some big corporations.
 
727EMflyer
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Thu Mar 16, 2006 2:50 pm

I have seen several europeans (well, germans mainly) on this forum discussing the merits of their MP accounts while having less-than-kind things to say about M&M so I would guess that United could just be the way to go.
 
StarGoldLHR
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Thu Mar 16, 2006 7:41 pm

During my time I have held miles in several StarAlliance airlines at different membership levels :

SAS
Air Canada
British midland
Singapore
United.

All these occured due to differing reasons...

I have been a Stargold continuously since 1999 with the same airline, and a Star Gold / Silver with a second star alliance airline at the same time since 2002. (i.e. I am a highflyer in 2 star alliance airlines at the same time).

I live in the UK, my preference is to earn miles for personal travel and my friends/family use these miles most. I fly tickets depending on business conditions (ie varied between 1st-Economy depending which company is paying my bills)

Caveat, these are my experiences of gold / silver membership of these airlines below, some of which were only for a year. Therefore they may be slight changes before/since.

With those credentials, here is my opinion..

My opinion.

Miles and More (Lot/LH/Swiss/Austrian etc)

is an "expensive" option with good add ons. Earning miles really only works if your flying on higher tier prices (i.e. not the cheapest cheap economy ticket). However they have lots of good additional options for redeeming miles.. buying a car was one option I saw ! However if you fly short distance / cheap seats you wont earn too many miles, but when you do they are good for many things unrelated to the air if you live in Europe.

Krisflyer (Singapore Airlines)

Singapore are notoriously difficult about giving that "extra" because you fly often. I was a Gold for 1 year, and even then everytime I flew Y from LHR-SIN I was alway row 73 + at the back. Given this their airline is superb and the lounges match the airline... so the airline quality compensates for the lack of miles. Not a good option if you want to earn lots of bonus miles, but is good if you fly their non star partners and want to earn star miles (I did this with Virgin). If you live in Singapore they have a good catalog of designer goods, and even social meet ups at various locations.

Mileage Plus

(united), If you want miles to be thrown at you left right and centre, dont care for comfort but get a steady stream of last minute surprise upgrades without having to ask, then Mileage plus is for you. The airline isnt perfect, but if you have a partner who wants to travel and you need miles, and you dont mind roughing it on United to earn them.. do it here. Remember you can spend on any star carrier.
You can earn double miles on any UA / US flight, and also on LH across the atlantic. There program however has only the regular options for redeeming points (car, hotel etc). (Although Ive not been in US [Dividends ?] their program looks the same as uniteds).

Air Canada

The programs good if you live in North America, live outside and the service offered kinds of scales back to just a FF program. It does have the benefit of only 38k miles to qualify for gold, and double miles as a gold member when flying AC. If your in North America, lots of businesses (mortgages, credit cards etc to earn extra miles). AC's program is a bit of a risk as it's not owned by the airline, it was sold off a few years back, and as such could always close up to being a Canadian Consumer points program. You get double miles for flying AC as a gold, so if you fly to Canada often its good. If you want gold status for image/lounge access it's easy, but to earn many miles or redeem miles for other items, outside Canada it's less so.

Eurobonus

SAS Like Lufthansa program really, with the added benefit of buying designer furniture from their catalog. The program is designed around occasional business / high revenue travellers who would want to redeem miles at home (bit like Petrol / Gas station points programs). SAS points have a good promo with SAS hotels and airmiles which is quite nice. 25% miles on the lowest fares.

Diamond Club

bmi. Fantastic.. providing you never fly with them. Just lump miles from any other star carrier into BD's account, you get lounge access from the other carriers, points for flying (virtually all Carrier fares get at least 1 point / per mile) and a lot of partners offer upgrades / preferencial seating to BD members.

Only the highest Y class fares earn points in economy, and this can be 25%. Added to this as a BD gold you cannot always get into the lounge either (whilst holding another gold card for say UA usually will).

BD does have the most generous credit card points earning program for any airline ive ever seen. MBNA will give you between 1.5 and 3.5 points per every GBP 1.00 spent, (ie. upto 5 miles per $) spent on the card and it's free.
(I guess BD owes MBNA a lot of money ?)

Added to this BD's redemption program allows for Cash / Miles options as well as one-way points redemptions. BD's point redemptions are more geographical e.g. most airlines 50k for a Transatlantic regardless (be that LHR-NYC 3500 miles or LHR - HNL 7000 miles), however bmi will do 20k miles / cash, or 40k to NYC, or 50k to SFO etc. A free bmi UK flight would be 6-10k miles and certain parts of Europe with bmi from 12k miles... a bargain compared to SQ's 25k miles required between any European city pair.


So those are my opinions and experiences.

In summary:

if you want more miles than ever and fly america.. United.
If you want non-mile perks (US) .. Air Canada
--------------------------(Euro)..Lufthansa/Lot/AuA/Swiss
--------------------------(Asia)..No opinion but consider looking at Asiana/ANA/TG/SQ first

If you want cheap airmile redemptions / medium earning.. BD (just beware before you fly with them).



Finally:

I have been Stargold with UA since 1999 and earned over 1million airmiles without ever flying 100k miles with UA in 1 year (ive come very close a few times). The airline is very generous with upgrades and make an effort to look after your business. As a result I make the effort to always fly UA for business, and my girlfriend and I use the miles on any partner. I found UA to be very proactive with their FF's and they have had considerable revenue from me for this.

Added to this I have held a bmi FF card for earning miles with their credit card and lumping all my non-UA travel with. This card has graduated from basic to gold and back a couple of times. More recently I find bmi is just a good place to collect non-UA Star Alliance mileage and a good program to redeem miles, and bmi a great airline to redeem low price miles for flights. But since their program change in 2005, I never PAY to fly bmi anymore.


My predictions on the future:

Since bmi's demise I have built up miles in KLM / Airfrance in addition to the UA stargold I hold, but continue to lump non BD/UA miles into my BD account.
I feel Skyteam is a good second option and have built up miles here.

I continue to stay away from Miles and More.

I think UA will tighten their program, and think US/HP will leave star alliance, but someone will replace them. (My bet would be DL as they were close once before).

I also think BD will change. My prediction is LH will buy out BD in a bail out and that bail out is coming sooner than later, but not before BD cancels it's program or sells bmiBaby. After which BD will join miles and more.

I do not believe in the VS or BA buyouts of BD, at least not unless VS joins star alliance. None of this will happen whilst 51% of BD is privately held... Mr Bishop and friends will need to relinquish his golden share before it becomes attractive... but Virgin will declare interest as Mr Branson helps his friend Mr Bishop raise the price of his shares.
So far in 2008 45 flights and Gold already. JFK, IAD, LGA, SIN, HKG, NRT, AKL, PPT, LAX still to book ! Home Airport LCY
 
Treg
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:21 pm

A related question:

I am member of 2 different Star FF programmes. Is it legal to earn points from the same flight for both of these programmes?
 
StarGoldLHR
Posts: 1346
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:32 pm

No

Quoting Treg (Reply 11):
I am member of 2 different Star FF programmes. Is it legal to earn points from the same flight for both of these programmes?

Dont know about legality, but your ticket / reservation can only hold one FF per flight segment.

e.g.

LHR-CDG and return..

in the past I credited LHR-CDG with Air France
and CDG-LHR with Delta


this is fine, same ticket, two flight segments.


another example...

LHR-FRA-ORD

Lufthansa LHR - FRA credited to BD FF Account
United FRA - ORD credited to UA FF Account

This is fine, one ticket, 2 segments

but its not normal to earn miles on multiple airlines on the same flight at the same time.. I do have one exception where I had this...

I flew PVR-SFO (Puerto Vallarta to San Francisco) with Mexicana (who used to be in Star Alliance).

The flight was canceled and HP (America West flew me via PHX).

I was credited flight miles by America West to my America West Account (pre-Star Alliance), and Mexicana Credited my UA Account as compensation for the delay. A few weeks later they also sent me a fully enrolled Mexicana FF Card with 6000 miles credited + PVR-SFO as well !
So far in 2008 45 flights and Gold already. JFK, IAD, LGA, SIN, HKG, NRT, AKL, PPT, LAX still to book ! Home Airport LCY
 
kiwiandrew

RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:38 pm

Quoting Stargoldlhr (Reply 10):
but Virgin will declare interest as Mr Branson helps his friend Mr Bishop raise the price of his shares.

His friend ?? I was always under the impression that the two men could not stand each other and that this has been a major stumbling block in any potential tie-up/merger between BD and VS
 
StarGoldLHR
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:16 pm

Mr Bishop is sitting on a lot of money and likes his airline... wouldnt you after all your lifes work into it ?

However he is not getting younger and the airline isnt making money and I suspect he's getting advice he likes to hear instead of advice he needs and hanging out for that LHR-US dream whilst the airline struggles is like believing in a new British Empire instead of focusing on what needs to be done now.... hence the issues.

There are plenty of untapped destinations from LHR to be had and bmi needs some fresh encouragement it appears to be a bit tired right now. bmi could create a niche for themselves and create a market instead of being "just another flying here".

but as it is right now Bishop and Branson are rivals in business but money always finds friends in itself.. if BMI were threatened Branson would help Bishop more than Mr o'leary etc would. It's in Virgins' interest too and sadly bmi would fade away a little more.
So far in 2008 45 flights and Gold already. JFK, IAD, LGA, SIN, HKG, NRT, AKL, PPT, LAX still to book ! Home Airport LCY
 
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fbgdavidson
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Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:25 am

RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:49 am

Quoting Stargoldlhr (Reply 10):
Added to this as a BD gold you cannot always get into the lounge either

bmi backtracked on this. Although they initally said no access for Golds on tiny/baby/infant/pre-pubescent fares they changed their minds and now as a Silver you cannot access the lounges on aforementioned fare classes.

Quoting Stargoldlhr (Reply 10):
bmi will do 20k miles / cash, or 40k to NYC, or 50k to SFO etc.

The economy redemptions are 45,000 miles or 25,000 miles + £140 to continental US but Hawai'i is right up there as 80,000 miles or 40,000 + £270 .
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
tsully
Topic Author
Posts: 680
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RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Sat Mar 25, 2006 8:10 pm

Thanks to everyone for their input...esp. StarGoldLHR for the very detailed comparison of FF programs.

I opted for LH's Miles & More, although I now wish that I would have picked UA's MP (didn't have a chance to read these threads until today). I was flying OZ to PVG last week, so I wanted to act quickly and pick a program before my departure.


My thought was that UA may well screw around with their MP program due to their constant restructuring...whereas LH is probably more of a sure bet, at least for the long term (although I know LH is fanatical about finding new ways of saving $ as well).

UA definitely seems more generous with giving miles away...as evidenced by the 17,500 bonus miles for enrolling in their VISA card. Compare that to LH's miserly offering of 6,000 miles for new credit card enrollment. UA is also offering some double miles scheme, for MP's 25th anniversary...at least up to 12,500 miles, I believe.

I doubt that OZ will allow me to switch mileage credit back to UA, after I already instructed them to credit my LH account.


As long as my M&M miles allow me to upgrade on other STAR airlines, I'll be happy (I know they're still working on full implementation).

My only other hope is that I'll be able to get to STAR Gold status quickly, via LH. What if I'm only a Frequent Traveler status with LH...what does that make me with STAR? I guess you probably need to have Senator status to be STAR gold?? If M&M turns out to be a real headache, I'll jump ship and go with UA.

Are LH and UA comparable in what they deem "qualifying" miles for status levels? Qualifying miles are merely the actual miles flown, as opposed to bonus miles for enrolling in credit cards, phone services, etc...correct?


Thanks again and happy flying.

By the way, my OZ flights were great...the new 0030am dept. 777 flight LAX-ICN was the best...very comfortable y-class seats and fantastic IFE system. ICN-PVG was also new 777, but PVG-ICN-LAX was 744 with older seats and no IFE.

[Edited 2006-03-25 12:14:12]
I love America. I guess that makes me Bush's poodle, but I'd rather be a dog in New York City than a prince in Riyadh.
 
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fbgdavidson
Posts: 3903
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:25 am

RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Sat Mar 25, 2006 10:53 pm

Quoting Tsully (Reply 16):
My only other hope is that I'll be able to get to STAR Gold status quickly, via LH. What if I'm only a Frequent Traveler status with LH...what does that make me with STAR? I guess you probably need to have Senator status to be STAR gold??

LH FTL = Star Silver
LH Senator / LH HON Circle = Star Gold
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
airbazar
Posts: 10317
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2003 11:12 pm

RE: Star Alliance FF Question

Sat Mar 25, 2006 11:07 pm

I've been a United Mileage Plus member for many years after transfering from LH's crappy M&M program. As indicated before, earning mileas with United is the easy part. The big problem these days is redeaming miles. Apparently it doesn't matter how flexible you can be it's just nearly impossible. So I have a but load of miles but can't use them so I'm seriously considering starting to taking my business to AA. Another problem with Mileage Plus is that I can use the miles for upgrades on LH. Since I fly 4-6 segments per year on LH, trans-atlantic, this is becoming an issue.

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