The Airline Frequent Flier Loyalty Program Comparison Thread

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by Canarsie, Feb 5, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Canarsie
    Original Member

    Canarsie Gold Member

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    This thread is designed to be the definitive thread to compare airline frequent flier loyalty programs to give those members the information needed to make an informed decision about which program is best.​

    For example, I currently prefer the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program because I reside in the Atlanta area and enjoy the possibility of unlimited free domestic upgrades whenever they are available to me. The challenge of maximizing my earning SkyMiles and Medallion Qualification Miles on connecting flights originating and terminating in Atlanta can be difficult but rewarding.​

    Please ensure that your information is as concise and as easy to read as possible so that it will not be as difficult for fellow members to decide.​

    Thank you in advance.​
  2. the_happiness_store
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    the_happiness_store Silver Member

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    I'm not sure whether this is possible due to all the permutations.
    Have a list/table so that the comparisons could be made for "free" awards - miles only.
    We could see the cost of a ticket in different programs and from different cities.

    For example:
    02/21: UA LHR-ORD FC 67,500 miles + $246.50
    02/21: UA AMS-ORD FC 67,500 miles + $57.90

    I'm not sure how to keep this data concise yet easily readable: The dates probably not be necessary but it could be a useful repository.
  3. Travel2Food
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    Travel2Food Silver Member

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    Interesting and timely topic. I'm an AA EXP and DL PLT (+ lifetime Gold)... with CO platinum till the end of the month.

    Plusses and minuses to each program - and the value really depends on how/what/when you fly.

    Even though I live in a UA/CO hub city (WAS), I prefer the AA & DL programs. At the EXP level, I find the AA program to edge out DL for my flying - generally transcon & international. AA provides more value in terms of international upgrades to cities served by AA, and a more favorable domestic upgrade situation for EXP flyers. That conclusion does NOT hold true for lower tiers of the AA program where upgrades are purchased w/stickers.

    International: AA's 8 annnual systemwides applicable to any fare edges out DL's systemwides that apply to M fare and above. If you do an AA upgrade with miles and a co-pay, it's often cheaper than DL's mileage upgrades, but that's situational. The recent DL/AF reciprocity improves the situation as you can upgrade from AF premium economy, which is typically cheaper than a DL M fare.

    Domestic: AA's EXP unlimited/lower tier sticker upgrades works OK. DL's complimentary upgrades for all status passengers tends to lead to longer upgrade lists and fuller F cabins. For an AA EXP, it's a wash, for a lower tier AA member, you're better off with DL. However, if you book early, AA's priority list is based on time, where DL's is based on money, so you may find AA to be favorable. A few years ago, before Delta created Diamond, I was PLT on DL and PLT (mid tier) on AA. I was able to upgrade about 75% of the flights on DL, and about 20% on AA. Both airlines are holding more seats for gate allotment. AA and DL tend to have similar numbers of F cabin seats, so overall opportunity is comparable (UA/CO are at the low end of the pack with far fewer F seats domestically).

    Award availability: Edge to AA.

    Phone agent knowledge: Edge to AA, unless you're DL Diamond, in which case I'd rate them as comparable.

    Earning status: DL provides many, many more opportunities to earn status and/or miles than AA. Call it "grade inflation" - it's harder to get annual status on AA. But AA shines on lifetime status, where all miles count (DL, it's MQM's only).

    Lounge Access: I prefer AA's lounges, especially the Flagship lounges (International F, EXP access). But, DL has more food and drink options (in the Admiral's Club, you pay for food and premium drinks).

    For MY flying, I'm glad to have status in both so I can cherry pick. If I had to pick one that best meets my current situation, I'd pick AA. Fortunately, I don't have to pick just one.....

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