Which ff program out of Seattle?

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by gmarchetti, Jun 7, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. gmarchetti

    gmarchetti Silver Member

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    I have been collecting miles and points for many years, but due to recent changes I have a newbie question.

    My main objective is to take my family of 4 to Italy every year or two. We have family over there.
    There is no direct flight to Italy from Seattle, where we live. You can fly via London, Amsterdam, Paris or Frankfurt.
    So far, I have collected BA Avios and Amex points on my Amex PRG and managed to save some money that way. However, BA surcharges have increased to the point where it does not make sense to fly economy on points and I simply cannot collect enough points or afford the fees for the 4 of us to fly business.
    Delta points are relatively easy to come by, thanks to their partnership with Alaska, but they are worth little. Redeeming at "saver" level is quite difficult. This year the four of us would need almost 500k points to travel in the summer!
    The best option would be United points, both for value, easy redemption and a direct flight from Frankfurt to our home town, but United does not fly many routes from here, so those points are difficult to collect.
    I do travel on business although less than a year ago. My company issues us with a corporate Amex, whose points cannot be transferred to either Lufthansa or united. Air Canada is a transfer partner, but they do charge about the same fees and surcharges on Lufthansa as BA does for their flights.

    Any suggestions? Which program should I focus on and which card should I get to maximize points?
  2. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    I'm not knowledgeable enough in all programs to give you solid advice, but from my experience flights are SO much cheaper once you get into Europe. I understand the desire to use points and I collect them too, but whenever I go to redeem them I get options like 3-4 layovers and some ridiculous itinerary. It certainly makes me question why I am even saving them up when redemption sucks.

    That being said, I have found that if you are willing to mix up the airlines, try using points just to the get to one destination then paying a cheap flight to get to your final. I did this on a MSY(New Orleans) to LHR(London) flight. Once I was in London, I took a flight to Pisa/Florence that ended up costing 39 pounds each way (about $60 US at the time, although the currency conversion has fluctuated since then). Every route I have ever mapped to go to my preferred destinations (such as Italy and Greece) have come out 10 times cheaper/less miles/easier if I just find the cheapest/least mileage way into Europe to start. This, of course, is just my experience. Hopefully some of the more experienced gurus will help you out.
  3. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Don't forget you're not just limited to partners that you can fly directly.

    For Star Alliance, you can also transfer MR points to Singapore and ANA, where you can also book Star Alliance rewards.

    For SkyTeam, you can transfer to Flying Blue (KLM/AirFrance).

    There's also Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic.

    Not sure if any of these would be better for you, but there's more to cost/benefits than meet the eye.

    I stick with United, but then I'm at one of their hubs (SFO), arguably one of their fortress hubs.
  4. sobore
    Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

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    Your five largest carrier out of SEA are: Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, Delta, United and Southwest.
    Look at these programs and their partners to see what works best for you.
    Delta ISkyteam) and United (Star Alliance) are members of global airline alliances and should be focused on for that reason.
  5. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    I would use the BA Avios as positioning flights to the East coast then either pay for the tickets to Europe or use Amex points on another carrier. It's more trouble than flying direct but to save money. I would also make sure to sign up for the Alaska card and get the companion pass. While it doesn't get you to Europe it would also help you in the US. I only mention that because of your location.
  6. Seacarl
    Original Member

    Seacarl Gold Member

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    Consider using United Mileage Plus. With Mileage Plus you can book onto LH non-stop to FRA, or via numerous connecting points, including YVR, DEN, ORD, SFO, IAD, YYZ... And you can use a mix of Star Alliance airlines as needed, including UA, AC, LH, SK, LX... I think this gives you the most options for flights and hubs. And there are no fuel surcharges.

    DL seems to have the least availability and they've been cutting back on partner availability, so their points aren't worth anything.

    With AS points, you can use the points to fly on AA or BA, but they can only access low level awards and you cannot mix partners on the award, so those are pretty serious limits.
  7. webdes03

    webdes03 Gold Member

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    The infamous SkyPesos?

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