Lately I’ve been looking at my mileage balances, and wondering what programme I should be using for which sorts of itineraries.
Oneworld is now fairly easy post the big Avios devaluation. British Airways Executive Club for short hauls, Iberia Plus for South America and American Airlines for long haul (but only once my plans are firm, since there’s a $150 cancellation fee).
Star Alliance is all over the shop… With the demise of BMI, I find myself with miles in various programmes and never quite sure what to do with them. So I decided to look at a number of programmes and do a side-by-side comparison of the miles required for specific itineraries I’m often looking for.
Some of the things to keep in mind are:
Avianca Life Miles & United Airlines
Although these programmes seem to charge many more miles, they also do not add fuel surcharges. On a long haul in a premium cabin the amount of cash saved can offset the additional cost (opportunity or actual) in acquiring miles.
Lufthansa Miles & More
Fuel surcharges are added to practically all Lufthansa and partner flights. Awards on airlines outside the Lufthansa Group must be booked over the telephone. Lufthansa limits the availability of First Class and many Business Class awards to its own Miles & More members. Substantial surcharges are added, but this can be the only way to get Lufthansa First Class.
Each month, Miles & More offer selected destinations at a discount. This is surely the best use of Lufthansa miles.
I love one way itineraries, maximising my flexibility. Unfortunately Aeroplan only allow one way award tickets to/from North America.
Fuel surcharges are added on a number of carriers. The airlines that have low or no surcharges are: Air China, Avianca, Brussels, Egyptair, Ethiopian, EVA Air, LOT, SAS, Singapore, Swiss, Turkish, United
All Nippon Airways
ANA add fuel surcharges on most airlines. Unfortunately, ANA does not provide a calculation of additional fees until the member has enough miles in their account to proceed all the way with an award booking. (this isn’t good if you’re trying to determine whether to move some Starwood points to ANA!)
ANA also require return itineraries, so you will need to accumulate quite a sizable number to get anywhere…
Turkish Miles & Smiles
Although you can theoretically book any Star Alliance partner airline using Turkish miles, you will have to deal with the call centre. It is much easier to book awards on Turkish Airlines itself, which have a moderate amount of surcharges added.
Here’s the chart…
For reference, the full award charts can be found here: