Alright. It’s confession time. I like to think of myself as a seasoned award traveler, especially when it comes to navigating the complexities of various programs and using the best sweet spots for some excellent awards. Earlier this year I managed to book a flight to Hawaii for just 7,500 Turkish Miles & Smiles, and I’ve used other great tricks, like planning a stopover on a one-way Alaska award.
It hit me the other day that there are three fairly common mileage currencies that I actually haven’t ever used to book an award. Ever. I’ve searched for awards with the programs numerous times, but in the end, I never ended up booking anything. Here are three major ones I’ve neglected:
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
With the removal of Korean as a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, folks aren’t left with a whole lot of options when it comes to SkyTeam currencies. Sure, there is Virgin Atlantic for Delta flights, but what about flights with KLM, Air France, Alitalia, Virgin Australia, and the like? You pretty much have Delta SkyMiles and you have Flying Blue.
Flying Blue is the loyalty program of Air France-KLM, and it is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou. Lots of ways to earn Flying Blue miles. You’d think I would have used them to book a ticket by now.
But I haven’t, notwithstanding the Flying Blue promo awards which are often an excellent deal for getting to Europe from certain U.S. gateways. I’ve priced out plenty of awards through Flying Blue, I’ve just never booked. They’ve devalued a bit over the past couple years, and it has been hard to find awards of truly excellent value. Plus, they don’t really have a chart anymore, a la Delta, which is irksome. I wish we had one other good option for Skyteam flights.
I guess there’s also Millemiglia and GarudaMiles, transfer partners of American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points, respectively, but these don’t hold a candle to either Flying Blue or Delta in terms of ease. There is also an insane side to Flying Blue.
Qantas Frequent Flyer
It took me a really long time to put much stock in the Qantas Frequent Flyer program. With award prices that don’t really appeal for long-haul travel, I didn’t even create an account with them until last year. Now I know they are a decent option for some short-haul domestic awards on American Airlines.
Now they have even become one of my go-to sites for searching Oneworld award availability. With a month calendar view and often more partner inventory loaded than American Airlines, the Qantas site is great for finding awards. I even wrote a post about how you can use Qantas miles to book awards on Air Niugini. Because you may need that in your back pocket someday.
I just haven’t ever actually booked an award with them, and don’t plan to anytime soon.
ANA Mileage Club
This one might be the worst offender. I’ve waxed poetic about all the fantastic things you can do with ANA Mileage Club miles, highlighting some of the best premium cabin sweet spots. It is an excellent currency, and one of the best transfer partners of American Express Membership Rewards. How else can you fly business class to Japan for just 75,000 miles?!
But even though I’ve searched many awards through ANA Mileage Club, I’ve never actually booked a ticket through them. Ever! I find it ironic how much time I’ve spent delving into and writing about the program, yet I’ve never actually put it into practice.
One of these days I know I will, though. The prices are too excellent, and their business and first class are some of the nicest in the sky. Gotta get to it before the program eventually devalues.
Currencies I Have Used
These three notable currencies aside, I have used plenty of other for booking all kinds of award tickets for myself and others. Here are other major currencies that have gotten at least a little love over the past couple years:
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Alaska Mileage Plan
- American AAdvantage
- Avianca LifeMiles
- British Airways Avios
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Delta Skymiles
- Frontier Miles
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest RapidRewards
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Solidly over a dozen, and some of the best programs and transfer partners available. Maybe one day I’ll get to the especially obscure ones, like Alitalia Millemiglia, EVA Infinity MileageLands, or El Al Matmid. I’m always up for a challenge. I thought I might have a few Xiamen Air Egret Miles after flying their long-haul 787 from Xiamen to Los Angeles, but alas, they don’t even award miles in in their own program on flights in the lowest fare classes!
Understanding how to burn your points is an essential part of this hobby, more essential than knowing how to earn points through credit card sign up bonuses and maximizing your earning. I know people who have well over 100,000 miles or points in various accounts, but really don’t know how to use them effectively. Learning the ropes of various programs, even if you don’t always use them, is absolutely important.
What are your favorite programs to use? Are there some you’ve hoped to use, but haven’t?