We've been asked many times what the best Frequent Flyer program would be to credit Airline Miles.
There is not just one single best program, but there are a few worth looking into.
You can collect Airline Miles not only when you fly, but as well when you rent cars, stay at hotels, by different credit cards or if you shop via the different Airline Shopping portals.
In this post we will only describe where to credit Airline Miles you earn through flying.
Use your points or miles to book business and first class flights
Before we will show you where to credit you airline miles, we will already tell you where you can look to book award flights with your miles.
It is not always so easy to find award space, especially when you are looking to book for 2, 4 or even 8 people.
Therefore, we highly recommend to sign up to the newsletter of our friend Spencer. His website is called StraightToThePoints, he will send alerts via email when he finds good business or first class award spaces. You can sign-up for free here.
Let's start with our Tutorial:
The three biggest Airline Alliances
Oneworld, Skyteam and Star Alliance.
To obtain a maximum number of Miles you should register with all those 3 Alliances. One program per alliance is usually enough, except for Oneworld. We will come to all the details later one.
Be aware that for most programs your miles expire when you are inactive for a longer period of time. Always have a look at the expiry date, you don't need to fly to earn miles and keep them alive, it is usually enough to buy something out of their shops.
Where to credit Airline miles?
First it depends on what you are looking for.
a.) Are you looking to earn a maximum number of miles, and use them for “free” flights ?
“Free” because no flights are really for free. If you use your miles for an award flight you have to pay taxes. These taxes can be very low but for some programs they are high, too high.
b.) Are you looking to achieve a status at a Frequent Flyer program?
We will focus on the mid tier status that gets you priority check-in and lounge access.
Each Airline Alliance, and even every program within the alliances, are calling this status by a different name.
Oneworld calls this status Sapphire.
British Airways Silver, Finnair Gold or Iberia Oro are all equal to Oneworld Sapphire.
Star Alliance calls this status Star Alliance Gold.
Turkish Airlines Elite, Asiana Diamond, Miles and More Frequent Traveller are all equal to Star Alliance Gold.
Skyteam calls this status Elite Plus.
For most of their different programs that's Gold.
Which Airline belongs to which Alliance?
Before you start collecting miles, you have to know to which alliance the airline you fly with belongs to.
- Oneworld members are: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Maroc, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines, as well as Fiji Airways as a connect partner and some 30 affiliated airlines.
- Skyteam members are: Aeroflot, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeroméxico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Czech, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines, XiamenAir
- Star Alliance members are: Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, THAI, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines, and United.
An exact overview of how many Miles you will earn in every booking class with an Airline at different programs can be found on Whertocredit. However, that website isn't superuser-friendly and not that easy to handle/understand. But it is a good source.
We have analyzed the different programs and here's what our opinion is about “where to credit airline miles”.
When you fly with an Oneworld member the miles you will earn to redeem for flights later on are called Avios.
For flights with Oneworld members, you will earn Avios and as well Tier Points. You will need those Tier points to obtain the different statuses.
a.) Earning a maximum of Avios to get “free” flights
We would choose British Airways Executive Club, but not only British Airways Executive Club.
Taxes are often much lower for redemptions with Iberia Plus and Aerclub than with British Airways. Furthermore, the on- and off-peak calendars differ.
The good thing about Oneworld is that you can move your Avios from British Airways Executive to Iberia and to Aerclub. You can find all details on how to combine your Avios from one to another program here.
We always recommend registering with all three of those programs within Oneworld. Read more about that topic here.
b.) The easiest way to acquire a mid status with Oneworld
British Airways Executive Club is your way to go, it could be the easiest way to earn a status from all airline alliances out there.
You will need 600 Tier Points (even less for the moment due to Covid-19) within one year to obtain the Silver status, which will grant you access to business class lounges each time you fly with an Oneworld member, no matter in what class you fly.
However, at least 4 flight segments with British Airways itself have to been flown. If you live in Europe that shouldn't be a problem. If you live in North America this might not be that easy, except you visit Europe at least once a year.
A business class flight from Europe to the US (or vice versa) via London will already earn you 40+140+140+40, so 360 tier points in total. If you are flying to the US twice a year, you will already receive the Silver status.
Furthermore, one Transatlantic flight and a tier point run could also work for you.
A flight to Helsinki via London, from a European city, will earn you 120 tier points each way in Business class. You will already have the 240 tier points missing becoming a Silver member in addition with one Transatlantic flight.
The Miles you earn are called Miles or Points, depending on the program.
a.) Earning a maximum of Miles to get “free” flights
SAS Eurobonus is probably the best choice for most people. You will earn 100%-200% Miles when you fly in business class with most Star Alliance members. With Miles and More for example, you will usually only get 4 Miles per € spent.
Another advantage with SAS Eurobonus is that you can create a Point Sharing group. You have the possibility to collect miles together with your family or even with friends.
This possibility also exists with Miles and More, but only for your family and only if you live in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
Taxes are low as well when you redeem your miles with SAS Eurobonus, compared to some other Star Alliance programs.
b.) The easiest way to acquire a mid status with Star Alliance
You have a few options here. To obtain Star Alliance Gold you need 40.000 miles within 1 year with Asiana Miles or Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles, flown with any Star Alliance member. For Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles be advised that you will get no Miles for Lufthansa tickets in the cheapest business class tickets, booking class P.
You will get Star Alliance Gold even for only 36.000 Miles with Aegean Miles + Bonus, but you need at least 6 flight segments with Aegean or Olympic Air.
With Egyptair Plus you will need 60.000 miles, but with their family account, all the miles earned by the family are directly credited to the main account holder, and these miles count for elite status.
a.) Earning a maximum of Miles to get “free” flights
Korean Air Pass is probably the best program to earn a maximum of miles, as you earn at least 100% of Miles always when you fly in Business Class with a Skyteam member.
For example, you will get more Miles with Flyingblue when you fly with Delta Air Lines, as when you would fly with their own airlines KLM or Air France.
The same is true for Delta Skymiles. You get more Miles when you are flying with KLM or Air France as with Delta Air Line itself.
When it comes to redeeming your Miles, FlyingBlue is for sure the best program when you live in Europe, and they have regular Promo Awards as well.
b.) The easiest way to acquire a mid status with Skyteam
Skyteam and their different programs have totally different approaches on how to obtain a Status, from easy to complicated.
We would choose the easiest option, FlyingBlue, you will need 180XP within 1 year to obtain Gold status. Below in the table you can see how many XP's you will earn for the different distances and classes.