There is certainly no frequent flyer program that can be universally considered as “the best.” Frequent flyer programs each have different features that are beneficial. However, some features may be beneficial to one person and useless to the next. Their benefit depends on each individual’s lifestyle. Since each person has different preferences, each will seek a program that tailors their needs. This article will cover the most important considerations and explain how to choose the best program on an individual basis.
1. Mileage Expiration
This is the most important part of choosing a mileage program for anyone who doesn’t travel frequently. As of current, the airline industry will not allow any program to let miles expire for at least three years after the last activity. For those who fly often enough that this will not be a concern, this part of a mileage program won’t matter. Those who travel less frequently should seek a “no expiration” plan or a program that has a more lengthy limit of time. Discount airlines tend to have the most unfriendly policies toward travellers who fly less than two times each year.
2. Air Travel Perks
For those who must travel several times each month, it is best to seek a program that has good rewards for travel. Some rewards offer free services, such as a free checked bag, free or lowered-rate upgrades to a higher seating class or special consideration when flying standby. Travellers who make multiple trips each month may elect to sign up for the highest reward program, which is usually the “gold” program with any airline. This will usually grant them a higher earning for miles during each trip. It will also afford them the opportunity to have access to first-class lounges, as well as other airlines’ lounges. Travellers who choose this option will never be bumped from a flight if it is oversold and full. While few airlines make a practice of it today, a few elite reward programs allow members to purchase emergency seating on a sold-out flight, bumping a non-reward holder to another flight. For those who must travel several times each month for business, this is an excellent plan to have, as it will always guarantee a seat in case of an emergency.
3. Non-Air Travel Perks
Some airlines offer another type of reward program that accumulates mileage points through other means of travel, such as staying at hotels, renting cars or dining. Most programs cover an extensive list of dining venues, which gives foodies and frequent diners the option to accumulate points quickly. In these programs, it is best to seek one that matches personal needs best. For example, a traveler who flies several times each month should be sure the air-travel rewards are optimal over the dining rewards. However, travellers who fly less than 5 times each year, but eat out several times each week, should consider a program that yields the best dining rewards.
After considering each of these things, it is best to choose the program that has the most attractive benefits that will actually be utilised. Make a list of each one and weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of each, based on personal preferences and travel frequency. Another important thing to consider is which airlines have the most steady business. It is true that any airline could be sold out or fold under at any time, but it is always better to choose an airline that has a solid history. Reviewing industry reports is the best way to gauge this decision. Discount airlines are generally the first ones to be sold out. When airlines merge, the rewards programs don’t always move, so keep that in mind also.
Contributed by FrequentFlyerCreditCards.com.au, Australia’s leading resource to find detailed reviews of frequent flyer programs from various airlines as well as information on building your points.