If you’re planning to travel frequently this coming year, you might want to enroll in a frequent flyer program.
What is a frequent flyer program?
This is a loyalty program provided by airlines to encourage customers to accumulate points or miles that they can then redeem for air travel or any other rewards.The good thing about these programs is that they offer benefits above and beyond air travel. The concept behind them is for airline passengers to become lifetime customers.
How do airline companies reward you through their frequent flyer programs?
The basic concept is that the more frequently you fly with them, the greater your rewards.
To assist you, here’s a list of the top 10 loyalty programs in the world and why they are the best in terms of your travel habits, location, credit card spending, and expectations.
If you’re a member of the AAdvantage program, you'll earn miles when you fly via American Airlines or purchase plane tickets from partner airlines.
Once you’ve earned sufficient miles under this program, you can use them for:
AAdvantage has partnerships with and is usable when flying via airlines such as Etihad Airways, Fiji Airways, Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines, Westjet, and Hawaiian Airlines.
Mileage Plan is Alaska Airlines' loyalty program. You can earn miles when you shop online at 1,100+ stores that are accredited by Alaska Airlines. Use your miles for availing seat upgrades, booking hotel stays, and flying on other partner airlines at the Oneworld Airline Alliance and other Global Partners.
There are many ways to accumulate miles in Mileage Plan, and you can easily maximize your rewards by strategically redeeming your points. Frequent Alaska flyers can qualify for elite status after earning enough miles in a calendar year.
British Airways’ tiered loyalty program was launched in 1995. However, in 2011, following its merger with Iberia, the flag carrier of the United Kingdom and the founding member of the One World global airline, British Airways introduced drastic changes to its Executive Club program, creating a distinct reward currency, Avios.
Avios offers members of British Airways and Iberia’s frequent flyer programs thousands of ways to earn and redeem miles for flights, hotel accommodations, and travel experiences.
The SKYPASS program benefits members by allowing them to earn SKYPASS miles and acquire bonus rewards from many airline and hotel partnerships. Members enjoy specially discounted rates from companies such as American Express, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Hertz rental cars, and more. As you accumulate miles, you’ll enjoy even more advantages from the SKYPASS program.
LifeMiles is the frequent flyer program of Colombia's national airline, Avianca, but it is a separate entity in and of itself. For those in the know, Avianca's LifeMiles program is one of the best ways to fly via Star Alliance airlines worldwide.
You can use Avianca LifeMiles to book flights on all Star Alliance carriers. These include airline partners such as United, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Turkish, ANA, Asiana, Copa, and more.
Turkish Airlines operates its frequent flyer program named Miles&Smiles, enabling loyal customers to earn and purchase their miles. The benefits of Miles&Smiles program ranges from travel, education, and health, to shopping and more. The miles you earn will entitle you to award tickets, in-flight services, cabin upgrades, extra baggage allowance, thousands of products from Shop&Miles, and special assistance from the airline’s program partners.
MileagePlus is the loyalty program of United Airlines and Aeromar, offering rewards to passengers traveling with certain types of tickets. Following the 2011 merger agreement between United Airlines and Continental Airlines, executives chose MileagePlus as the official name of the frequent flyer program.
United and its Star Alliance partners fly to over 1,100 destinations around the world; you can earn and redeem miles on dozens of participating airlines. Top-tier elite members receive 6 upgrades per year.
Flying Blue is the joint loyalty program of Air France-KLM, Transavia, Air Calin, Kenya Airways, and TAROM. Travelers can exchange these miles for plane tickets, in-flight services, or free services from other non-airline partners. You can also earn miles the way you want: By booking flight tickets or hotel stays, renting a car, or shopping with your loved ones.
The entire Flying Blue experience becomes more rewarding to travelers as they can level up with XP (experience points). The more XP they accumulate, the more benefits they can access. The program also includes 4 levels and each level has its unique benefits. Members can accumulate more XP (experience points) when booking and taking flights—the points given depend on the type of flight and seat booked.
Miles & More provides numerous benefits to its members. You can earn valuable air and ground miles to treat yourself or others to attractive rewards. With this loyalty program, you will gain status miles for every Lufthansa flight.
The Lufthansa Group’s frequent flyer program is divided into 3 categories, each with its own advantages: Frequent Traveler, Senator, and HON Circle. As a Frequent Traveler, you are entitled to an increased complimentary baggage allowance. As a Senator, you can save time using the First Class check-in. As a member of the HON Circle, you will have access to an exclusive limousine and transfer service to make your arrival and departure as convenient as possible.
SkyMiles is Delta Air Lines' frequent flyer program that awards points to passengers and customers who use Delta co-branded credit cards. Travelers can redeem SkyMiles for awards such as airline tickets, business and first-class upgrades, and other luxury items. They can also use their Skymiles to choose a premium drink at Delta Sky Club or to upgrade their seats on their next flight.
You can use your miles to purchase Delta Sky Club memberships, Delta Gift Cards, vacation packages, and other items. Delta Airline miles never expire. Top-tier elite members receive upgrade certificates and 25,000 bonus miles.
Finding an excellent frequent flyer program means more than just earning miles. The best programs also offer other benefits like free checked bags, access to lounges, priority boarding, complimentary upgrades, higher priority on overbooked flights, and expedited baggage services.
That’s why as flight prices continue to shoot up in the coming months, it’s more important than ever to enroll in a frequent flyer program that’s right for you.
Which program are you interested in or are planning to choose? You may leave your thoughts down below.
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