After posting our “travel strategy”, a reader responded that it seems like the only way to get to earn miles to travel up front is to buy miles. While it wasn’t my intention to suggest that, I do seem to agree with that opinion, especially for those of us in Asia who don’t travel a lot for pleasure or business.
However, if the miles are credited correctly, you can earn some pretty value albeit after some time.
I travel at least once or twice to the US for work where I stick to Star Alliance airlines. Most of my other paid travel is on Air Asia usually to visit family back in Kuching. We do occasionally find some good deals where we pay instead of burning miles.
Since I try to travel on Star Alliance airlines, I could credit my flights to any one of the member airlines. It’s usually a misconception that you can only credit to the operating airline. I have many colleagues that credit only to Singapore Airlines since they travel on Singapore Airlines and get stuck with a bunch of miles that will expire before they earn enough to redeem anything.
One needs to consider the amount and class of travel one is taking and whether redemption or status is more important to them before deciding where to credit those miles to. Personally, I value my Gold Status when traveling since I only get to travel on economy for work. With Gold Status, I get to check-in in the business class lines, lounge access, priority boarding and extra luggage which makes sticking it in the back of the plane more bearable.
With my travel pattern, I credit my miles first to Asiana airlines since it takes only 40K miles in 2 years to earn Gold Status. Most other airlines require an average of 50K miles in a year to earn and maintain Gold Status. Another airline that’s good to credit to is Aegan Airlines since it also has a low threshold to hit Gold Status. However, the bad thing about Asiana airlines is the cost of any miles redemption. Their miles redemption is distance based and costs a lot more than other airlines.
Therefore, I credit any additional miles I earn after meeting and maintaining my Gold status to BMI since it offers some pretty good redemption. They offer cash + points redemptions which allows redemption for less miles. For those based in Asia, some good redemptions are 7.5K+cash for a one way South Asia redemption or 22.5K+cash for a return business class from South Asia to North Asia. Since BMI is going away after the purchase by IAG, I’m looking for another Star Alliance airline to credit to for redemption and I’m considering United since they have similar good redemptions for intra Asia travel.
In summary, there are many factors one needs to consider before crediting miles earn from travel. It will be different from people to people. If done correctly, you can earn some pretty good value like elite status or good flight redemptions.