There are as many flyer programs as there are airlines. In the Philippines, the only frequent flyer program is PAL’s Mabuhay Miles Program. As the flagship carrier of the Philippines, their mileage program is arguably the most accessible in the country.
Of course, the universal nature of frequent flyer programs makes it so that us Filipinos aren’t limited to the Mabuhay Miles Program alone. You can signup for any frequent flyer program, as the majority of them allow free registration. That being said, not all flyer programs are equal—and for Filipinos, there’s only a handful that you really need to be a part of.
Whether you’re new to mileage collection, a casual traveler, or a seasoned veteran of the skies, you would definitely want to be part of these frequent flyer programs!
The first flyer program we’ll discuss is the aforementioned Mabuhay Miles Program. It is the mileage program of the country’s flagship carrier and the oldest Asian airline, Philippine Airlines. Aside from that, the program doesn’t have a lot going for it. When compared to the two other flyer programs that we have on this list, they’re not as user-friendly and rewarding.
The only airline partnered with Mabuhay Miles is PAL, and to some extent, ANA. At the time of this article’s writing, redeeming ANA flights through Mabuhay Miles is temporarily unavailable, making the Mabuhay miles only usable with PAL.
Mabuhay Miles has 4 tiers of membership which don’t have that much difference between them. Classic Membership is given to people who recently joined. They have no other benefit than the fact that they can earn miles. Elite members are those that have collected 25,000 Mabuhay miles or have flown a set amount of flights. They have a few priority benefits such as in check-in, boarding, and luggage handling. Premier Elite members are those that have collected 75,000 Mabuhay miles. They receive 2 free international upgrades to their seats which is nice, and an additional luggage allowance.
The highest premium membership status is the Million Miler, this means you have collected 1,000,000 Mabuhay miles. It has all the benefits from Premier Elite, with the added advantage of all the awards fees being waived.
The great thing about them is that they have a distance-based reward system. Though it’s still pretty hard to collect a decent number of miles with them, you don’t have to spend a lot just to get the most out of your flights. Unlike many flyer programs that are revenue-based, Mabuhay Miles bases the miles that you earn on the distance you’ve flown and the cabin class that you are in.
For example, the difference between the miles that you earn when you fly economy and business class to Singapore is only around 400. (1476 for economy and 1835 for business). You can earn as much as 8,000 miles on just one long-haul economy flight—which is relatively uncommon for many revenue-based flyer programs.
This would be great if you can use Mabuhay miles on a plethora of different airlines, but since they’re not part of any airline alliance, this greatly limits their value and usability. Even if you get to collect a decent number of miles, you’ll be locked with redeeming them only with PAL. And although PAL is an okay airline, having no option to redeem those miles elsewhere can be a turnoff for most people.
The customer service that they provide varies deeply but is pretty close to mediocre. Thanks to the new online booking system that they have, you don’t have to interact as much with their customer service representatives which, although mostly hospitable, are outright terrible with their processes.
The quality of service provided in-flight might just make up for how unappealing the customer service of Mabuhay miles is.
In any case, signing up with PAL is a must for most Filipinos, especially those who are avid flyers of PAL. You should never miss out on the opportunity to earn miles, no matter how infrequent you fly. Their redemption and accrual can see some improvements but is also a great example of how mileage-based accruals should be done.
This is one of the best flyer programs for Filipinos because it’s the flyer program that has its hub here. Most of the benefits will be available to you every time you plan on flying. Flying for free is always a plus but getting to experience PAL’s long-haul business class flight is something that every Filipino should do. Of course, there’s no discounting the fact that there might be news of PAL’s improvements in the future!
One of PAL’s great ambitions is to become a 5-star airline. With their 4-star rating as of now, it’s only a matter of time before this happens! Another thing to take note of is the chances of PAL joining an airline alliance. When this happens, the value of their miles greatly increases, leading to better options for PAL!
This is the mileage program for Cathay Pacific. It’s based at Hong Kong International Airport. Asia Miles is a mileage program with a plethora of other partners besides Cathay Pacific. This means the miles that you collect here can be used to redeem flights from all of its other airline partners! You can also accumulate miles by crediting flights you had on partner airlines onto Asia Miles.
Partner Airlines of Asia Miles aside from Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon include the following: British Airways, Qatar Airways, Qantas, American Airlines, Jet Airways, Japan Airlines, Gulf Air, Iberia, Alaska Airlines, and many more. Cathay Pacific is part of Oneworld, so most airlines included in the Asia Miles program are part of it. However, there are some airlines that are partnered with Asia Miles that aren’t exactly part of one world. These are Air China and Air New Zealand from Star Alliance, and China Eastern Airlines from SkyTeam. There are also a few airlines that aren’t part of any airline alliance but are partnered with Asia Miles: Dragonair, Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Gulf Air, Jet Airways, and Royal Brunei Airlines.
Asia Miles itself doesn’t have a membership tier system, but their home airline, Cathay Pacific does. This is called the Marco Polo Club and it has four tiers for its members. In essence, the Marco Polo Club is a paid membership program which benefits can only be used in Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. When you first join the program, you’ll automatically be given a green status which gives you one free business class lounge pass. Silver gives two, additional passes. Gold gives two business class lounge passes and four bookable upgrades for your flights.
Lastly, in the highest membership tier, Diamond gives you two free business or first-class lounge passes, four bookable upgrades and a complimentary gold membership for a companion. As classy as it is, it only benefits people who fly Cathay Pacific or any other Oneworld carrier regularly. Aside from them, the one-year time frame of the membership before renewal might be too much for the casual flyer.
The Asia Miles Program is similar to Mabuhay Miles in that it is a distance-based flyer program. Unlike the latter, Asia Miles has a very detailed accrual and redemption chart which gives a more accurate report on how many miles you get based on the number of miles that you’ve flown. They use a mix between the miles you’ve flown and the cabin class you have to compute exactly how many miles you earn. Even better is that they have a mileage calculator which helps you easily find out how many miles you will accrue or how many miles you’ll need to fly a certain route!
Asia Miles is one of the best frequent flyer programs in Asia, second only to the last one we will be talking about shortly. This one particularly appeals to people who prefer airlines who are members of Oneworld. Cathay Pacific itself is a great airline, with hundreds of destinations all over the world, and world-class hard and soft products.
Customer service lines are very easy to talk with. They’re fast and efficient, though not as warm as those from Mabuhay Miles. the important thing is that they get the job done fast. Bear in mind that although most of the flight bookings here can be done online, there are still some routes with some airlines that need you to call them, which is an okay dilemma to have in exchange for the plethora of airlines you can choose from.
Asia Miles is one of the best frequent flyer programs in the Philippines because most banks can transfer their points onto them, even if only a select few have a 1:1 conversion ratio. Aside from that, you gain access to a number of different airlines—each to their own advantages and benefits. For the most part, Cathay Pacific is the way to go, but you’ll also be able to take advantage of other airline partners that have promos and deals through Asia Miles!
As the frequent flyer program of the highly acclaimed Singapore Airlines, KrisFlyer was once the best out of the majority of flyer programs in Asia. That was until the KrisFlyer devaluation a few years ago. Either way, Krisflyer is still among the best flyer programs in Asia. Among these three flyer programs, Krisflyer is the most user-friendly, and easiest to understand.
Aside from Singapore Airlines, KrisFlyer can be used to earn and redeem miles from many partners, including all of the Star Alliance members. Some of the more famous Star Alliance Members include Lufthansa, All Nippon Airways, United, Turkish Airlines, EVA Air, and of course, Singapore Airlines. They’re also partnered with Alaska Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Vistara, Juneyao Airlines, and Silk Air.
KrisFlyer has three membership tiers that are loaded with benefits. The base one is simply named KrisFlyer. In this tier, you gain access to members-only promotions, the option to mix miles and cash to purchase flights, additional baggage, and to select seats, and other exclusive content. KrisFlyer Elite Silver provides a 25% tier bonus on actual miles flown on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir, as well as complimentary seat selection in Economy Class on Singapore Airlines and Silk Air.
Lastly, KrisFlyer Elite Gold provides all of the benefits mentioned above along with worldwide lounge access in both Singapore Airlines lounges and Star Alliance lounges, priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling, and complimentary forward zone and standard seat selection in Economy class on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir.
Just like the two previous flyer programs, KrisFlyer also computes the accrued miles by the distance and seat class of the passenger. They have a mileage calculator to make things easier for the passenger, and they also provide a PDF of their accrual chart. However, unlike Asia Miles, the only thing stated on their accrual chart is the percentage of the miles you’ll get depending on the seat class you’ve flown. They use the exact distance flown to compute how many miles you get after your flight.
Arguably the best frequent flyer program in Asia, KrisFlyer takes advantage of its partner airlines and the 27 different airlines that are part of Star Alliance. Singapore Airlines know that they are a premium brand, and so they give their members many promos, discounts, and deals so that more and more people will focus on flying them.
Some people go as far as transferring the points they have from their airlines to KrisFlyer because of how highly acclaimed they are, while others use the KrisFlyer program to get flights in other Star Alliance members—which is a valid option to do as well.
KrisFlyer is probably the best when it comes to customer service. They are very kind when talked to and are very efficient with the way they handle calls and inquiries. Aside from that, they’re also very advanced in how they approach problems and questions. Which is an added little bonus which we find really nice!
KrisFlyer is arguably the best frequent flyer program that people in the Philippines can join. Many of the banks here in the Philippines allow the conversion of their reward points into Krisflyer miles which makes it even more accessible. Even the recently unveiled EastWest Singapore Airlines Krisflyer World Mastercard showcases just how popular it is with the Filipino people.
Much like Asia Miles, you will use KrisFlyer to get free flights with Singapore Airlines, that’s for sure, but it also opens up the doors to 27 more airlines that are part of the Star Alliance!
KrisFlyer, Asia Miles, and Mabuhay Miles. Two giants, and the local mileage program. These three are what we consider are the best frequent flyer programs that every Filipino should join. Mabuhay Miles covers your needs for a cheap and quick flight with a decent airline which is PAL. Asia Miles and Singapore Airlines cover the more adventurous flights and vacations. Just talking about their flagship carriers alone, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines is enough to keep you satisfied with air travel.
These two airlines are some of the best in the world. Along with their partner airlines, Star Alliance and Oneworld, you have over 50 airlines to choose from! And that is every mileage connoisseur’s dream