Different Frequent Flyer Programmes
Some Frequent Flyer Programmes have different programs for different parts of the world. For example, Air India’s FFP – Flying Returns, offers four different programs: the India programme; the USA /UK/ Canada programme; the Gulf programme; and the Southeast Asia / Far East programme. In such cases, you have to choose the programme according to which destinations you’ll be flying to most frequently.
Also, every time you complete a particular flight you might not earn the same number of air miles. That is because these miles depend not only on how many miles you fly, but also on how much you spend for your ticket. First class tickets earn the most air miles, whereas discounted tickets, though they might be cheaper, earn the least miles. For instance, as a member of Air India’s Frequent Flyer Programme – Flying Returns, if you fly Delhi-Mumbai on an Economy Class ticket, you could earn 1180 mileage points. But if you fly Executive or First Class, you will earn 150% and 250% points respectively as compared to the 100% Economy Class mileage points. In contrast, if you fly on a discounted or promotional ticket you could earn just 70% of the Economy Class mileage points. On Qatar Airways, you earn 100%, 200% and 300% of air miles if you fly Economy Class, Business Class and First Class respectively.
Once you’ve earned a considerable number of frequent flyer miles, don’t think that they are yours for keeps. Many FFPs specify a validity period, mostly three years, and if you don’t redeem your frequent flyer miles within that period, you stand to lose them. Policies vary regarding the expiry of air miles. For instance, Air India’s Flying Returns specifies that air miles will be valid for three years from the date of accrual, whereas the Gulf Air Frequent Flyer Programme miles are valid for a full ten years! But there are others like Virgin Atlantic’s FFP – Flying Club, whose air miles don’t expire as long as members take part in at least one “earning or spending activity” every three years. Which means, where such FFPs are concerned, it’s easy to keep your air miles going; you have to either redeem at least some of your miles through any travel benefit or just purchase something from one of their partner companies within the three year period. Then, still other airlines have FF programmes that allow you to extend the validity of your miles for a fee, for instance, Cathay Pacific.
One more thing – while air miles may have a validity of a few years, status miles generally expire after one year. So bear all this in mind to make sure you don’t lose your hard earned air or status miles.
Finally, the rules regarding redeeming of your air miles are not uniform for different FFPs. An attractive feature of frequent flyer programmes is the possibility of getting free airline tickets. Depending on which FFP you have joined and your status level, you’ll have to redeem your air miles for a free air ticket anywhere between 24 hours to 15 days before departure. For example, Flying Returns members generally have to make redemption requests 15 days before departure, whereas Thai Airways International’s FFP – Royal Orchid Plus allows members across all tiers to redeem their miles even just three days before departure.
Then there are other differences between FFPs, like, for example, some have family plans, while others don’t. Also, only a few like Japan Airlines and Korean Air allow family members to pool their miles and earn rewards. Thus, it is evident that the benefits offered under different FFPs and their terms and conditions might differ. But the bottom line is that the customer benefits no matter which FFP he joins and how many points he earns. Hope you get the point.
Frequent Flyer Programmes of some top airlines
Air India & Indian – Flying Returns
Air France / KLM – Flying Blue
British Airways – BA Executive Club
Cathay Pacific – Marco Polo Club
Continental Airlines – OnePass
Delta – SkyMiles
Dragonair – Elite
Gulf Air – Gulf Air FFP
Lufthansa – Miles & More
Quantas – Quantas Frequent Flyer
Qatar Airways – Qatar Airways Privilege Club
Singapore Airlines – Krisflyer
Thai Airways International – Royal Orchid Plus