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Airline rewards schemes

Old 21st Mar 2013, 19:41
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Airline rewards schemes

Having just used my Enrich miles with Malaysian to return to the UK from Adelaide, I thought I'd try and use some of my Lufthansa miles which I have accumulated.

The MH scheme was a pain in the neck as I had to do it all by phone, well worth the effort though as my flight in business cost me just the tax of 205 AUD.

Anyway back to LH. A return trip from BHX to Munster in economy is 10000 miles, which is in their bargain miles section, fair enough. The tax they are asking for is 232.70 GBP, sounds a lot I thought. So I checked a regular flight with all the same details but without using my miles, and guess what? The tax is only 177.70 GBP!

Is this a regular ploy by airlines to offer "free" flights but then to claw it back through inflated taxes?
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Old 21st Mar 2013, 23:47
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Regarding LH points, I would use mine purchasing in-flight duty free sales when flying with Swiss.

As for airline add-on's here's a recent fare breakdown booking of ours, the base fares accumulate to PHP800 yet the fuel surcharges are more than six times greater than the base fares:

CEB/KUL/CEB

FARE:
Base Fare PHP 800.00

TRAVEL FEES AND TAXES:
MY - Passenger Service Charge PHP 844.22
Fuel Surcharge PHP 4,880.40

OTHER FEES:
Web Admin Fee PHP 400.00

TOTAL: PHP 6,924.62
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Old 22nd Mar 2013, 09:06
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Is this a regular ploy by airlines to offer "free" flights but then to claw it back through inflated taxes?
There are bargains to be had if you are selective. I just bought a one-way reward ticket BUD-AMS-GLA on KL in April for a total in charges of approx €45. Not even Ryanair could beat that.

However generally your analysis is correct in my experience
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Old 22nd Mar 2013, 09:15
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Last year I had a huge amount of miles on Lufthansa M&M. Redeemed, they would have been worth about €70 against a ticket.

By using them at the LH online shop, I got €300 of Radisson vouchers and a couple of Tommy Hilfiger shirts (admittedly not something I would every normally buy) worth about €200, total €500 as against €70!

I have about 70000 Avios points. Redeemed against a ticket to South Africa they are worth about £100, less I think, but if I use them for short European journeys, I can save up to £100 per ticket for 4500 points, making them worth potentially £1500.

These schemes are all a bit of a con but the system can be beaten.
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Old 22nd Mar 2013, 14:00
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It may, or may not be a ploy and it will vary from time to time!

As a general rule (note 'general') points are of most value to upgrade on long haul. If you buy a ticket in Y and upgrade to a higher cabin, you will get more for the points as the airline has had some cash from you.

I have a small set of points from the old UK 'Air Miles' scheme that are now part of Avios. These are separate to the Avios of BA itself as they are different Avios! I have had them for over 10 years as they are not worth using. I have checked many times for European short haul - and I could use them and pay the tax - but it's better to pay directly for the flight.

The examples given above are good advice. I collect both BA and VS and have found them very useful for long haul upgrades and THEN they are good value as you also get more points for the basic Y fare that you bought. The other main guide line for such schemes is: Do not change your purchasing habits to get points. ONLY seek to gain points for a purchase that you were already making.

Whilst on the subject of Avios in particular (we weren't!) I have not seen an option to txfer 'Air Miles' Avios to BA Avios. Has anyone done this? My small collection could then join the big collection and be useful - which is why they probably don't want me to do that.
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Old 24th Mar 2013, 20:56
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"I have not seen an option to txfer 'Air Miles' Avios to BA Avios. Has anyone done this?"

Yes - it's fairly simple. You need to log into your 'Air Miles' Avios account and go to "My Account" then "Combine my Avios" and follow the instructions from there. I made a transfer earlier tonght, and it took no more than five minutes.
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Old 25th Mar 2013, 23:22
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In my opinion Avios points arent worth the bother.

Last year i opened an Amex BA account and have accumulated a fairly large substantial amount of points (including the free companion voucher) with subsequent Charge Spend and travel on BA flights.

If your picky about where and when you want to travel, especialy short haul, the options are VERY limited. Am very disapointed.
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Old 25th Mar 2013, 23:35
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Indeed, Leftofcentre2009, it is the long haul cabin upgrade every time for me.

Thanks, Innominate, I tried but after ten mins I gave up and will look again another day. I found most of the information but the 'tab' the FAQ directed me to - was not there!
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Old 26th Mar 2013, 23:05
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Interesting point about Avios. I have points both through qualifying BA flights, and from Air Miles accumulated over many years of credit card use.

Last year, I needed a return from Newcastle to Hamburg, which obviously needed connecting via Heathrow. Interestingly my searches for flights on the BA site offered different results to those found searching the Avios site. However, neither offered worthwhile connections for the outward leg. The only flights offered were the last flight out of Newcastle to connect to a LHR-HAM flight the next day for my chosen dates. Out of interest, I decided to search for a number of different dates, but all returned the same result. Clearly useless as an overnight stay in London would be necessary. Was this deliberate policy I wondered, for when I searched for flights for cash payment, I was offered innumerable options, and as the prices were reasonable I opted for a one way option to Hamburg on the BA site.

Interestingly, the return offered lots of options one way HAM-LHR-NCL using Avios, so I cashed in some of my Avios points for a free return.

Call me cynical, but I feel the system was manipulated to make it difficult to use my accumulated Avios points.

On the plus side, the previous year I managed to get free return flights using Avios between NCL-MUC and NCL-CPH.

I have yet to test the situation this year.
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Old 27th Mar 2013, 09:15
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Not cynical washingtondave, just real life.
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Old 27th Mar 2013, 09:50
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The only airline that I fly on frequently enough to make membership of a FF scheme worthwhile is Emirates. Ive used Skywards points to upgrade from economy to business four times and there has always been availability although on one ocassion the upgrade only came through at the gate as I was about to board the aircraft. In conclusion FF membership has been good for me and as others have said, often the best use of points is to upgrade classes on long haul flights. The Skywards mall is pretty dire.

I note that Skywards points can now be used to pay for Easyjet flights. Has anyone used this and is it worthwhile? as Im thinking about a trip to Europe in the autumn. (Appreciate that Flyertalk may be a better place to ask though).
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Old 27th Mar 2013, 18:24
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Hi Lance Murdoch,

From what I can gather, the amount of skywards points required to book an easy jet flight is proportionate to the selling price on the easy jet website. I'm not sure exactly what ratio, but you can check online before you make a booking:

https://partnerrewards.emirates.com/index.php

Skywards used to be the best ff programme in the business. I've redeemed many skywards points to book many economy tickets. I've generally found that award flights have good availability and the taxes you pay are *actually* taxes - not over inflated fees.

However, yesterday I received the following email:

Introduction of Fuel Surcharge
From 31 March 2013, fuel surcharges will be introduced to all Emirates Skywards reward tickets. You will have the flexibility to pay this surcharge with cash or Skywards Miles. The surcharge will be displayed as part of the taxes payable on your reward ticket and will be aligned to the surcharge applicable on commercial tickets.

Until now, the surcharges have been excluded from Emirates Skywards reward tickets. Given the volatility of the fuel price, it is no longer possible for Emirates to absorb this cost on Skywards Reward tickets.

We remain committed to delivering excellent service and value for money to all our Skywards members.

Aim higher
After a bit of research it appears that the fuel surcharge could make up around $300US of a ticket price

Such a shame - I used to break the golden rule and choose to fly Emirates simply because I found skywards to be such a worthwhile scheme for me personally. Fortunately I recently redeemed most of my miles so I won't lose out too much.

Important lesson; even if you do come across a decent FF scheme, the rules can change drastically at short notice

Last edited by Anansis; 27th Mar 2013 at 18:44.
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Old 27th Mar 2013, 18:45
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ALL new schemes start off as brilliant and worthwhile. Then, once the marketing is done and the new airline well and truly established, they have to pull everything back. It's commerce!

Last edited by PAXboy; 27th Mar 2013 at 19:48. Reason: typographical
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Old 27th Mar 2013, 18:53
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Alas PAXboy; if only moving my custom to another airline would make a jot of difference...
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Old 28th Mar 2013, 04:16
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Thanks Anansis, I got the email aswell. As PAXboy says, now that they are established the FF programme will probably go downhill.
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Old 28th Mar 2013, 13:53
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I have used the airline versions of 'Green Shield Stamps™' for some 26 years and have benefitted and lost, as much as any customer.

The biggest change in recent decades was the introduction of tier points to reach the next level of the scheme. This significantly devalued every point/mile held.

Old lags at the game will know these basic rules and can ignore the rest of the post. This is based on UK systems of my experience, I am not currently enrolled in any non-UK schemes:
  • Use multiple sources to funnel into a single scheme. My BA points collect due to:
    Actual flight miles/Avios (not tier points)
    Purchases made on a BA linked credit card
    Tesco Clubcard points automatically exported to BA. I usually buy my petrol at Tesco and so this makes a significant contribution.
  • By VS scheme also has similar multiple contributions. Currently, I am building my VS, as the BA scheme has reached a level ready for a particular long haul trip.
  • Never change your purchasing soley to get points. Simply ensure that you can get points if they are available. Learn about 'Double Dip' and 'Double Dip +'. If you collect points for a scheme then do so whole heartedly, otherwise it will never reach a usuable level.
  • Do not try to save in the short term - unless you are a current frequent traveller. Just let the points accumulate until you find that you can use them.
  • Forget short haul flying - the LoCos will always be cheaper (99%).
  • Consider buying a med/long haul Y outright but only if you have to.
  • Availability will be highly limited on popular and profitable routes, such as LHR to South Africa! Best to book at the 364 day mark.
  • Buy a long haul Y ticket and upgrade to PE/C/F for the best value.
  • Remember that the cheapest Y ticket cannot usually be upgraded with points. You have to buy an 'upgradeable' class of ticket. They want CASH!!! But the upgrade is usually still worth it but cross check with the listed rates for direct purchase.
  • Some schemes allow that, if you buy one seat for cash, you can buy a 'Companion' seat for less FFMs than if you were buying that alone. Since you will score full points on the cash ticket, these can go a long way to paying for the Companion.
  • If a scheme offers a 'special trade in' or 'swap-out' that is above their usual rates - they are either for the low season OR the scheme might be about to morph into another and less valuable scheme! I have found it best to use these offers.
I have previously changed my credit card to gain points - but I pay off my card every month so the exhorbitant interest rates were not a problem. I have multiple cards for different purposes and use as need demands.

There are websites devoted to this process and you can get carried away, I aim for a middle ground! For example, VS recently offerred a swap for Tesco Clubcard points. Normally, I send these to BA but VS offered a bonus for the swap - so they went to VS.
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Old 3rd Apr 2013, 18:00
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I have always been rather pleased with FF programmes. To take just two examples, myself and my adult daughter flew LHR to Nashville return for £398 in total, ie the taxes etc for both of us using United's Mileage Plus. We had a slightly awkward route on LH via Frankfurt going out thru Newark on to Nashville. I regard that as a bargain. And the next trip we are doing is LHR to Naples and back to STN for a total of £222, once again the taxes etc. Cheapest elsewhere is Easyjet the total being £527 for the two of us. The Naples trip is using Qantas FF programme.
In the past I have used points for all sorts of journeys eg several return LHR - SYD in all three classes on BA,QF,TG and many journeys to and from the States and Canada.
I'm a fan of these programmes and avidly collect them whenever possible.
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Old 3rd Sep 2013, 09:19
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Red face

Sorry to dredge this up again but I am deeply cynical of mileage programmes. I have about 70k miles with United and they are due to expire shortly if I don't do something about it.

I have never understood the workings of this scheme. It looks to me like it would be like taking on a second job to get to grips with it. I will be in Majorca next week and considered booking car hire through the United website to get points but it adds complications and reduces choice. I could walk in off the street to a carhire place when I get there and it would it be much less hassle.

As for flight upgrades...do I have to book an economy fare first and then hope an upgrade is available?

I know I am too lazy/busy to get properly into all this and was wondering is there a plain english brief overview of the scheme available anywhere?

Are the 70k miles worth saving or is life a lot easier if one doesn't bother being constrained by these schemes?
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Old 3rd Sep 2013, 10:01
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Obviously, everybody's experience is different but I can't complain at all about the BA Avios scheme.

Over the last three years I've had First Class Returns for my wife and I to Buenos Aires and Miami (three times), all using companion vouchers.
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Old 3rd Sep 2013, 14:24
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My experience of Miles & More is that they are only worthwhile on long haul and that using the online LH Worldshop is better value for buying certain high value goods (luggage, iPods etc) that using the miles to buy flights.
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