The first requirement to become a mileage collector is to be part of a frequent flyer program. Without one, you won’t be able to even start your mile collection journey. We’ve tackled frequent flyer programs many times in our previous articles. However, here, we will highlight the importance of joining and what you will get from joining a frequent flyer program.
As was said in the previous segment of this blog series, becoming a point collector is a commitment. It takes time and discipline before it really shows the value you can get from it. Joining a frequent flyer program allows you to use the points you collect for the best thing that you can redeem—flight tickets.
Let’s start with the most important question that will come into a newbie’s mind:
Why Should You Join a Frequent Flyer Program?
First of all, you need to join a frequent flyer program so that you can collect airline miles. You can collect as many points as you can with your credit cards, but without a frequent flyer program, you won’t be able to convert them into frequent flyer miles.
Joining a frequent flyer program is one of the requirements to be even considered as a frequent flyer.
Of course, it’s not just about the title. Frequent flyer programs have their own membership perks such as more luggage allowance, priority check-in and boarding, and exclusive discounts and promotions.
All of these benefits are meant to make the lives of frequent flyers easier and more convenient for them, both on and off the airplane!
Is There a Difference Between Frequent Flyer Programs?
There are as many frequent flyer programs out there as the number of airlines. That means there are hundreds of different frequent flyer programs out there.
Each of these programs has its own air miles. You can’t use the air miles of FFP A to redeem tickets from FFP B. However, you can transfer air miles one to another by taking advantage of the partnerships that they have with other airlines. This will be discussed further in the next installment of this blog series.
Basically, the main difference that these frequent flyer programs have is their air mile accrual, their membership perks, and their redemption values.
Air Mile Accrual
These programs let you accrue air miles in two ways: distance-based, and revenue-based.
Distance-based mile accrual means you will get a percentage of the total miles that you’ve flown. This was how most frequent flyer programs used to function. For example, if you fly for 2500 miles, a certain frequent flyer program would give you half the distance, so you get 1250 air miles credited to you. Higher tier members get better multipliers such as x2, x3, even x5 depending on the airline.
Revenue-based mile accrual means you earn miles depending on the seat class that you pay for. Instead of relying on how far you’ve flown, they give you a percentage of what you paid for. For example, if you only paid $200 for the flight above, and you’ll be given around 4 miles per dollar, then you’ll get 800 air miles.
It’s much less than the distance-based accrual, but if you bought a $1,000 dollar ticket, you’ll get 4,000 miles for the same route. The more you play, the more miles you get.
Nowadays, revenue-based mile accrual systems are more common. This is because airlines want to reward their loyal customers who patronize their services.
Most frequent flyer program has its own membership benefits. They’re usually distributed among tiers. For example, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Miles program has four membership tiers, namely: Classic, Elite, Premier Elite, and Million Miler.
Classic only enables you to collect air miles, while all next tiers give you more miles per flight, and more tier bonuses such as bonus miles, lounge access, priority check-ins and so much more!
It’s no secret that airlines value their seat classes differently—especially when it comes to flight redemptions. Some of them seem fairly decent, some look like a steal, while a select few are just unreasonable.
We suggest studying their redemption charts of the frequent flyer program that you are a member of to see what the redemptions with the best values are!
What Can You Get from Joining a Frequent Flyer Program?
Aside from the ability to earn airline miles, membership perks, and flight redemptions, there are a lot of other things that you can get by just simply joining a frequent flyer program.
First, you will be generally treated as a VIP—especially in the higher membership tiers. Because of this, you might find your airline giving you complimentary upgrades. Though not as common nowadays, complimentary upgrades from economy to business class used to be one of the ways of airlines to again reward their loyal customers.
You can also get luggage allowances and free luggage tags! Having extra luggage allowance lets you bring more things on your flight. The free luggage tags may sound rather simple, but they’re more than just that. They are used as indicators of a member’s luggage. That means they’ll be prioritized in both boarding and disembarking.
The norm nowadays is that frequent flyers are given priority check-in. Most of the time that means they’ll be allowed to check-in onto a business class or first-class check-in desks. Some airlines even provide a check-in desk, particularly for these members.
Lastly, members get exclusive lounge access to airline lounges. Bear in mind that these aren’t just those paid lounges that everyone can get in, rather they’re the ones that can only be accessed by members. The Mabuhay Lounge is one such lounge.
These kinds of lounges are usually better in all aspects, be it accommodation, food, or service! It’s something that every frequent flyer will appreciate no matter where they are!
The Frequent Flyer Programs that Every Filipino Should Join
We have detailed three frequent flyer programs that everyone should join in the Philippines in this article.
We’ll just detail a bit why we think you should join them.
As the frequent flyer program of the flag carrier of the Philippines, it’s almost a requirement to join them, especially if you almost always fly with them on your trips. Being a part of this program grants you access to the Mabuhay Lounges, priority check-ins and boarding, and some exclusive discounts and promos!
This is the frequent flyer program of Singapore Airlines. It’s one of the premium programs in Asia. Aside from the usual benefits of lounge access to the Silverkris lounges, priority check-in, and other exclusive promotions, it also allows you to redeem flight tickets from other Star Alliance member airlines.
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon have Asia Miles as their frequent flyer program. Among the three, this is the only one that has a distance-based redemption chart. It also allows you to convert your Asia Miles to other Oneworld member airlines!
Star Alliance and Oneworld are two of the three large airline alliances in the world. These alliances will be discussed in the next article so stay tuned for it soon!
You have to join a frequent flyer program to become a mile collector. Without doing so, your points will be stuck as fee waivers and the likes. Frequent flyer programs are essential for frequent flyer programs. And being a part of two or three of them is important to take advantage of what points you collect!
Arguably the best part of being a frequent flyer is being able to fly with different airlines. This will be discussed in the next installment of this blog series all about airline alliances!