Best OneWorld program?

Discussion in 'oneworld' started by sftraveller, Apr 7, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. sftraveller

    sftraveller New Member

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    Hi,

    I'm based in San Francisco, and travel internationally 2-4 times/year for work + leisure, on economy tickets, to different regions. I have active accounts on Delta and United, but just booked a ticket on British Airways. I have had an American Airlines frequent flyer account in the past, but have found their service terrible - expiring miles even after I completed their "challenge" to reactive them.

    I'm looking to sign up with a new airline for accruing points on any OneWorld partner airlines I fly in the future.

    Are there any that you can recommend, or differences you can highlight?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    All depends on your flight pattern. When/where/how often do you fly?
     
  3. sftraveller

    sftraveller New Member

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    Thanks for the reply, Mike.

    I'm based in San Francisco, and travel internationally 2-4 times/year for work + leisure, on economy tickets, to different regions. The regions are completely unpredictable - Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe.
     
  4. NYBanker
    Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

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    There isnt a single answer that fits.

    If you travel on discounted economy fares, you might stay with AA for accrual. They're better than a number of the other ow carriers for accruing in discounted tickets.

    BA has a much easier threshold for qualifying for status compared to AA, but only if you fly on longhaul flights in j or f. [All] ow carriers have a requirement that you fly four segments on flights that they market to hit elite status.

    Elite status on any ow carrier beyond AA won't help you with free domestic upgrades. Do you care about these?

    If you get to elite levels, AA has a better elite bonus policy. AA gives 100% to sapphire, BA only gives 50% to emeralds!

    I focused on BA for a number of years, but reverted to AA in 09.
     
  5. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    If you need status, then AA's really your only option, but they're really craptastic out of SFO these days.

    I prefer BA's redemptions in some ways. (I'm a member of both programs, but am mostly Star Alliance these days.)
     
  6. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    If redeeming for point to point short haul flights, sure. I wouldn't use BA Avios more than that though.
     
  7. daemon14

    daemon14 Gold Member

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    If OP is in SFO, using BA Avios may be tough with limited AA service out of there.

    sftraveller, what are the goals you have for the miles you will get from flying?
     
  8. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    I was responding to desamo's general comment about Avios.

    To be more accurate, using BA Avios on AA domestic flights if you do not live in ORD, LAX, DFW, MIA, or JFK (and LAX and JFK are pushing it) can get annoying/difficult under the new scheme.
     
  9. daemon14

    daemon14 Gold Member

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    Yeap, being currently LAX-based, I'm on the fence about Avios for us. Hawaii is a great deal, but we just don't go there much. I fly to JFK often, but it's the same number of miles as AA (only positive is no close-in fees + transfer bonuses from AmEx).

    Sent from my iPhone using milepoint
     
  10. sftraveller

    sftraveller New Member

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    Thanks for the info. I'd say my aim is to use miles for international trips, as I usually have sufficient on Delta or United for domestic flights when I can't find cheap fares, and they usually have more options for SFO.

    Since I fly on such unpredictable international routes for work, I just want to have a decent carrier within OneWorld to park miles with, and hopefully not have them expire before I get to acquire enough to use them.
     
  11. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Weirdly, I've only actually redeemed for long-haul. I just find the ability to search and book for them much easier with BA.
     
  12. daemon14

    daemon14 Gold Member

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    I'd say AA is your best bet for parking miles in, as out of the USA (and SFO), they have better long-haul redemption opportunities than BA Avios. For example, a first class ticket on Cathay Pacific from SFO to Hong Kong roundtrip would be 135K AA miles, while on BA it'd be 210K BA Avios points + fuel surcharges. In business, it'd be 110K AA vs. 140K BA. And if you wanted to go further in Asia (like to Bangkok or Singapore), AA would remain the same price while BA's price would go up.

    AA miles expire 18 months after your latest activity date, so if you're flying several times a year, they shouldn't expire. If you do find yourself without activity for 18 months, buying something (like a $1 iTunes song) through the AA AAdvantage Shopping Mall resets the clock.

    Also, if you're flying Economy class on partner airlines (like British Airways, LAN, Cathay Pacific, or Japan Airlines), you should note which fare classes on each airline actually earn AAdvantage Miles. Here's a page to links for each
     
  13. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    All good points, but I'd like to address this last one.

    In general, you'll get the best credit on the airline's metal you're flying.

    On CX (Cathay Pacific), my husband's booked in L fare class, which is discount economy. SFO-HKG roundtrip. CX credits this at 100%, but the miles can't be transferred into something I can use there, and they will expire after three years.

    AA credits this at 0%. Sucks because this is almost 14k BIS miles.

    BA credits this at 25%, so that's around 3500 miles.

    In non-Oneworld partners, Alaska Airlines credits it at 50%.

    Guess where we're crediting those miles?

    Ultimately, which program you'll get the most miles out of depends on who you really fly, what fare classes you fly in, and where you credit to.

    If you have records of your last few years of travel, you can look at what you've been flying, and make the best assessment. Even if you join a single program, though, there's nothing saying you can't credit to a different program when the fare/carrier combination gives you a better deal on another program.

    In our case, Alaska miles can be traded on points.com for either Continental (aka United) or AA miles, which are programs we prefer. Cheaper than buying up in fare class.
     
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  14. cliq

    cliq Silver Member

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    What about the new OW member - airBerlin's topbonus. Can you use them to get status quick even of you don't fly them?
     
  15. daemon14

    daemon14 Gold Member

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    I have an Alaska Airlines account for exactly that reason ... each time I've flown AS, it's been credited to DL (as a DL codeshare for MQMs); but on other airlines, I've credited to AS when it had better earnings than AA.

    Funny how mileage programs work :)

    I had a quick glance at airBerlin's program, but it seems like they have the same thresholds as AA for status (with AA having better earn rates on most fares). I wish OW had an A3-like member ...
     
  16. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    The long haul mileage rates aren't very competitive. SFO-HKG in F one way for 105K? No thanks.
     
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  17. daemon14

    daemon14 Gold Member

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    They used to be competitive :(
     
  18. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Yes, well, availability is even worse. :)

    Also, maybe it's a combination of the credit card I had and the long hauls I did on BA, but I found accumulating BA miles easier than AA miles (and I still have an AA card).
     
  19. sftraveller

    sftraveller New Member

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    Thanks for the great tips - especially about Alaska. I hadn't thought about them, because they don't fly too many places out of SFO, but really helpful to know about their partnerships with other US domestic airlines.

    Are their redemption levels pretty comparable to others? They struck me as kind of high.
     
  20. daemon14

    daemon14 Gold Member

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    Alaska is a bit different in how their redemptions work. You can redeem your miles for an award that has Alaska Airlines + one of their partners, but not more. So domestically, you could book an award with Alaska + Delta, or Alaska + American (or just Delta, or just AA).

    What's great about Alaska is that the are partners with airlines that in both Skyteam and OneWorld, so great if you split your flying between the two and want a central pot to earn miles in. They also now partner with Emirates, which lacks other U.S.-based partners.

    Check out their redemption opportunities here. Some are higher than AA/DL, some are the same, some are lower. One award that's great is Cathay Pacific First Class to South Africa or India via Hong Kong for 140K miles. Another is that for Qantas awards to Australia, Alaska Airlines members can redeem their miles earlier than AA members can (due to how far in advance you can book).
     
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  21. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    I use Alaska as my secondary and keep my status there as well once I hit exp. Being able to earn on Delta and redeem on American while accruing status on AS is pretty slick. I blogged about this last year but I may need to revisit that post now, especially flying through the southeast more.

    Sent from my iPhone using milepoint
     
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