I have been thinking about doing this post for a couple of days now because it was a topic completely unknown for me and I know that It can be confusing at the beginning: I'm talking about frequent flyer programs.
I used to think frequent flyer programs were only available for people with a lot of money who travel a lot but this idea wasn't true. Everybody can enroll into a frequent flyer program because they are completely free and you don't need to travel a lot to take advantage of these programs. Most of the frequent flyer programs keep your miles valid for a reasonable period of time, like 3 years, and whenever you fly the due date of your miles gets extended for another 3 more years. So that gives you a fair amount of time if you, for example, travel once a year for your holidays you can easily add miles to your program until you have enough to exchange them for an air ticket.
But let's go back to the basic: how to choose the frequent flyer program that it's better for you. In order to make a good decision you need to have a little bit of knowledge about the air companies alliances because when you enroll into the frequent flyer program from one specific airline you can add miles with the flights from that company and all the other ones that are part of that alliance. Also when you exchange your mails you can choose to fly with any of the airlines in that alliance.
Basically there are 3 main alliances between the different air companies worldwide and those are:
- One World: which includes the following airlines, Airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, SriLankan Airlines, Royal Jordanian and S7 Airlines.
- Star Alliance: which includes, Adria, Aegean, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Egyptair, Ethiopian, Eva Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, ShenZhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss, TAP Portugal, Thai, Turkish Airlines and United.
- SkyTeam: which includes, Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentinas, AeroMéxico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, MEA, Saudia, Tarom, Vietnam Airlines and Xiamen Air.
The trick is to find the airline in which you probably will be flying more and enroll into their program. Also it's important to take into account which one offers you more ways to add miles to your program without even flying. For example, many airlines have partnered with different credit cards so you can look for a credit card product that allows you to add miles with every purchase you make. That's a great way to add miles when you don't fly that much and that's what I have been doing because, in my case, I normally fly once or twice a year.
In addition, most frequent flyer programs have a lot of different partners like stores, hotels, car rentals and travel insurance companies that also allow you to add extra miles when you purchase one of their services.
Last but not the least my best tip for you would be to enroll in one program for each alliance so that no matter where you have to travel to and in which company you can always add miles ;)
Hope you find this post useful!