Which Airline would you choose?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by travelinmike33, Jan 29, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. travelinmike33
    Original Member

    travelinmike33 Silver Member

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    172
    Status Points:
    395
    I'm an American based in Johannesburg, South Africa on a long-term consulting project. I fly back to the States at least 3 times a year, and do some additional traveling (mainly in Africa) throughout the year. All of this is in the back of the bus (even the ~17 hours back from Joburg), as it is paid for by my client, and that's what they give us. I have been DL PM the past two years, but I'm not sure if I will meet the revenue requirements this year, and I'm certainly not spending $25k with foreign transaction fees. The DL flight JNB-ATL is the most convenient for me as I spend most of my time in the southeast when I'm back Stateside. Other flights to the US are on SAA to IAD or JFK, or I can stop in Europe on any number of carriers. Or the Middle-Eastern carriers.

    The trips back to the States should get me pretty close to the spend threshold, so I'm not opposed to sticking with Delta, but I've been considering a move anyway. One big thing keeping me from thinking too much about switching loyalties is that status matches mostly require that you actually fly on the actual airline, and the US-based carriers don't fly to Joburg (aside from Delta) except through codeshares.

    Additional things of note:
    • I have AMEX Plat and Priority Pass that comes with it, so lounges are pretty well covered domestically and abroad.
    • I'd love to be able to use miles (or SWUs) to upgrade, but I haven't really been able to do that on DL with the YBM requirements, so it's not a deal-breaker.
    • Domestic upgrades in the US have been really nice, but I could live without.
    • In addition to SAA, there are a lot of BA flights around South Africa and to neighboring countries.
    • Many of the smaller African airlines who are not in an alliance partner with SAA.

    Some options I'm considering:
    1. Get *G on Aegean - I have roughly 3K miles already, so 17K more (one trip back to the US on a carrier that gives 100% to Aegean) and I'd be there. These miles would probably be orphaned, but I'd get elite benefits fairly quickly without having to do a match/challenge. After that I'd still have to figure out what my primary airline would be.
    2. Switch to United - Valuable miles, possibility of domestic upgrades, several *A partners in Africa and many more that fly to JNB.
    3. Switch to American - Fairly valuable miles, strong SWUs, though I could really only use them TATL since I'd have to fly a partner to JNB from Europe.
    4. Switch to SAA - don't know much about their loyalty program, but could maybe get a credit card...*A and lots of regional partners
    5. Switch to a European carrier - haven't given too much thought, maybe TK?
    6. Switch to a Middle Eastern carrier - probably EK
    7. Switch to Alaskan - just thought of this one recently and it's pretty intriguing...tons of useful partners. Keep flying DL back to the States, some reciprocal benefits on DL and AA within the US, strong presence of BA in southern Africa, several choices to get to Europe, Cathay and Emirates for Asia, Qantas and Emirates for Australia...
    Sorry for the novel :) Anyone who's still around, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
     
    jbcarioca and downhillcrasher like this.
  2. downhillcrasher

    downhillcrasher Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,328
    Likes Received:
    2,395
    Status Points:
    1,270
    As with any decision with uncertainty you have options, information and prefrences. You have done a great job illuminating your options and providing background information. But you should share your preferences, that is what really matters to you? Are you okay taking two back-to-back long haul flights (as a connection through Europe would require)? Are the reward miles you earn particularly important or just a side thought? While it isn't much of a deal in Y, does in flight service matter or are casual US FAs okay with you? How big are you, that is could you squeeze into a 10 across EK 777 or does economy comfort on DL sound like the only way your knees would survive?

    Personally, I would fly Delta non-stop. Its hard to beat a non-stop, especially with economy comfort free for PM. There is no risk of a misconnect in a random country and it cuts down significantly on the total flying and travel time. Their sky miles aren't great, but already having status gives a fat bonus and they would be useful after returning to the states. Beyond that, the new spend requirements aren't that much (around $0.10 per mile, which isn't hard to pay in Y for ATL-JNB), plus they are still pretty far away.
     
    ffitalia and jbcarioca like this.
  3. akcae
    Original Member

    akcae Silver Member

    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    150
    Status Points:
    420
    The spend requirements do not kick in until 2014 while earning status for 2015. They also do not apply to non-US-based SM members. Therefore, no one need worry about the MQDs this year, and they will not apply to you as long as you're JNB-based.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  4. travelinmike33
    Original Member

    travelinmike33 Silver Member

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    172
    Status Points:
    395
    I hadn't really considered the possibility of being non-US-based. My current mailing address is still in the US. Mail in SA is generally slow and can be unreliable, but as rarely as I'll actually receive any mail from Delta, it's probably worth it.

    Generally the convenience of the direct flight is pretty tough to beat. If I do want to have a stopover, I can still do that with DL in Paris or Amsterdam. I'm 6'1" (1.87m for the metrically-inclined) and a little larger than average build. I have done a middle seat in E- on the Joburg flight without too much discomfort, but I have also done it with a good deal of discomfort (difference being size of seatmates). Miles are not terribly important at the moment because the amount of vacation I can take and the travel budget I'm allowed from work are pretty well balanced. Meaning that all the flying I do is paid for, and I am not trying to book reward flights. I am going to try to burn some miles this year, but nothing exotic, and I have some flexible miles from credit cards. Seat comfort is more important than service.

    I think the main concern with the spending requirements is that it limits the MQMs you can earn through Skyteam partners. I was able to hit PM this year in part due to flying to Thailand on KQ.

    I think you've convinced me there's not really any reason to abandon DL at the moment. I'm still very intrigued by Alaska and some other options, but partly for "grass is always greener" reasons.
     
    downhillcrasher and jbcarioca like this.
  5. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    Where the three alliances differ the most is in the southern hemisphere. If DL/SkyTeam is serving you well, then fine. Personally, I like *A, but I'm in a United fortress hub, which makes a huge difference.
     
  6. SM105

    SM105 Silver Member

    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    248
    Status Points:
    345
    United is the best FFP to use for intra-Africa travel. 12500 miles one-way (with no fuel surcharge) can easily cover a ticket that otherwise costs around $1000.
     
  7. jbcarioca
    Original Member

    jbcarioca Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,507
    Likes Received:
    57,455
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I am non-resident US but maintain DL in US because of better offers, mostly.

    The spending limit, when it comes, is met by any 006 ticket. The problem can be solved easily by you by buying whatever tickets you do on DL ticket stock. I do that to get more points, even when i do not set foot on DL, even in a codeshare.

    The foreign transaction fees are easy to avoid with many credit cards no charging them. American Express DL Platinum DID charge them when I had one last year. I cancelled the card because of that. If your income is not in US$.

    As an EK Gold i would not recommend that program unless you plan to fly EK a lot. I do love their FC but know nothing about their Y.
    As for *A other things remaining equal I'd probably opt for UA as an American, since you have so many *A options.

    However, nonstops are my favorite thing in flights. If they are for you too, DL seems to win. It seems your corporate policy will not let you meet YBM, more's the pity. Were i in your shoes I'd work hard to figure a legitimate way around that problem.
     
    downhillcrasher and tondoleo like this.
  8. travelinmike33
    Original Member

    travelinmike33 Silver Member

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    172
    Status Points:
    395
    So it's been a year and now the MQDs are in full effect. In 2013 I managed to re-qualify for PM on Delta as well as get *G with Aegean. 2014 looks to have much less flying, though. I'm guessing I'll still clear 50k, but 75k looks to be a stretch. I do have 12k rollover with DL.

    I still prefer the ATL-JNB nonstop as the best flight option.
    I can still handle sitting in the back.
    I still have AMEX Plat and Priority Pass.
    Paying to check bags would annoy me greatly.

    Easiest option is to switch my address to where I live in SA, and I'm exempt from MQDs, but I feel like maybe I should diversify my mileage portfolio instead of continuing to accrue Skypesos.

    I'm extremely tempted by Alaska. I would get to keep flying the ATL flight and open up access to different partners, including having the option to use AA or DL domestically. I might even get to take advantage of the cheap US-SA FC redemption on Cathay. The downsides I can see are starting from scratch this year (which is pretty big), lower upgrade priority when flying domestically on DL for equivalent status, redemption has to be on one partner only when using AS miles (I think...), baggage allowance when flying DL?, higher threshold to hit 75K than PM.

    One question I have is whether I'm able to have my DL/A3 status recognized and still accrue to a different program. I know I've read about this in the past, but I can't seem to find anything at the moment. I think the answer is no, but not sure.

    Also I haven't been keeping up with things much lately, so is there a current mileage program darling I should consider?
     
    downhillcrasher likes this.
  9. Gargoyle
    Original Member

    Gargoyle Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    22,015
    Likes Received:
    96,543
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Do you have the DL Amex plat or the regular Amex plat? If the former then you're exempt from MQD's.
     
  10. travelinmike33
    Original Member

    travelinmike33 Silver Member

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    172
    Status Points:
    395
    Regular Amex Plat.
     
    Gargoyle likes this.
  11. Jimgotkp
    Original Member

    Jimgotkp Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,834
    Likes Received:
    80,011
    Status Points:
    16,495
    OP, I’d go with Alaska Air’s program. You should be able to status match your DL PM status to AS’ MVP Gold status. If you want to retain your MVP Gold status then you have to fly 50K miles in a year. If you’re able to fly 75K a year, then you’re able to get their MVP 75K status.

    MVP Gold gets 2 free checked bags on Delta, preferred seating, SkyPriority access, and 50% off international Economy Comfort seats.

    Personally, I really like AS miles since you’re able to redeem them on a variety of airlines.. Air France/KLM, British Air, Emirates, Cathay, etc. etc. They have a pretty neat online booking system as well.
     
    Sammich and travelinmike33 like this.
  12. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,041
    Likes Received:
    875
    Status Points:
    895
    Why not stay with DL SM? After all, SM is * mejor en su clase *
     
  13. akcae
    Original Member

    akcae Silver Member

    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    150
    Status Points:
    420
    MVP 75K is achieved with 75K miles per year on Alaska flights ONLY, or 90K miles if flying partners. The OP is JNB-based, so I doubt he'd have much opportunity to fly AS exclusively.
     
  14. Jimgotkp
    Original Member

    Jimgotkp Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,834
    Likes Received:
    80,011
    Status Points:
    16,495
    I forgot to mention that about partner flights for 75K.

    He doesn't have to fly AS exclusively, but he still has the option to fly BA/AF/DL between JNB and the US. I'd rather earn AS miles than DL and AF miles. One can argue that he can bank the miles from his BA flights to an AA account, but why do that when you can have more options.

    AS' program isn't great for just Pacific NW flyers, it's a great program for many people due to it's versatility.
     
  15. travelinmike33
    Original Member

    travelinmike33 Silver Member

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    172
    Status Points:
    395
    I've decided to roll with AS, but in looking at flights for my next trip stateside, I ran into a potential snag. On my itinerary, it's ~$150 less to fly BA/AA than it is to fly DL. In looking at the flights, I saw that the flight LHR to US was sold as a BA codeshare of an AA-flown flight. From my understanding, to get credit for a BA flight, it must be marketed and operated by BA, and to get credit for an AA flight, it must be marketed and operated by AA. Therefore, BA/AA codeshares could end up producing 0 AS miles. I also believe the same could happen with AF/KL/DL.

    In any case, I'm going to stick with AS, just being careful to make sure I'll get credit before booking.
     
  16. TereSantos

    TereSantos New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status Points:
    10
    I was going to recommend you to stick with AS, but I see that you already made that decision! happy travels :)

    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    http://www.timesharescam.com/
     

Share This Page