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Switching Loyalties: Where to go now? CX/BA/Others?

Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:12 pm


At the start of 2017, I sought to build loyalty with the Star Alliance through AC's Aeroplan/Altitude due to the lower spending minimum for non-Canadian residents, the seamless trans-Atlantic to U.S. transits in YYZ and YUL, the quality PEY product, and the wide variety of partners. Though I've had a spectacular experience on many AC/LH/UA flights, I've hit a fair amount of cancellations, IROPs, baggage delays, and poor service. My most costly experience forced me to spend a notable amount of money in last-minute tickets to the extent that I cancelled two future trips since my travel budget couldn't allow me to spend more while missing work. I found no financial recourse with AC, and this most recent incident with UA has turned me off from doing business with the airline.

That said, I'm looking to establish loyalties somewhere else, and I'd appreciate any advice! I'm a U.S.-based traveler (NYC) looking to align with an airline and FFP that offers:
- easy lounge access with reciprocal access when travelling with partners,
- a nice, reasonably priced PEY for TATL and TPAC segments,
- a U.S.-based loyalty credit card
- mileage saver award flights

I'm currently a 35K AC Altitude member/Star Alliance Silver, and I'm very close to 50K/Star Alliance Gold. I would like to leverage my loyalty to status match to a new program. However, I'm not particularly keen on flying AC/UA again, but would do so if being a Star Gold would be advantageous.

I'm leaning towards CX's Marco Polo club, especially so with the release of their U.S. credit card. It looks like achieving Gold status may be notably expensive, but their Silver tier grants access to CX clubs. I am unsure how tier points would be credited if I flew a routing: NYC-ORD-LAX. Would I be credited tier points once based on NYC-LAX or twice, NYC-ORD, ORD LAX?

BA's Executive club sounds nice, but the fuel surcharges and taxes in and out of London are not appealing. The BA card allows for a companion when redeeming mileage reward flights, but those are still subject to high surcharges. I looked into JL's program as well, but it's a bit confusing overall.

Any tips? The only thing from which I would shy away is any minimum spending, as I may accrue with the airline or with partners more, depending on my travel needs.Thanks for the help!
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Re: Switching Loyalties: Where to go now? CX/BA/Others?

Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:26 pm

AA? FFP sucks but they all do these days.
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Re: Switching Loyalties: Where to go now? CX/BA/Others?

Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:36 pm

To where do you travel? Surely any decision on choosing a FF programme is going to be based around where you are located, and to where you frequently travel.

Personally, I am a BAEC member (Gold/oneworld Emerald), so I can only give you my experience as a member if that. I am currently based in SFO and the majority of my travel is domestic US to ORD, NYC, DFW or Southern California. I also return to the UK about once every 6-8 weeks on BA, usually in Club.

Problems with being a BAEC member flying AA: no upgrades. oneworld does not offer mile redemption upgrades on alliance member airlines, except in some extremely limited circumstances (which I have never managed to satisfy.)

Benefits of being a BAEC member flying AA: free Admiral's Club or Flagship lounge access. Priority treatment during IRROPS. Free Main Cabin Extra. Free booze and snacks onboard. Recognition onboard from crew.

If I want to use the BA Companion Vocucher from Amex, my redemption journey must start from London. This is not convenient for those not living in the UK.

BA does not offer any form of queuing for mileage upgrade requests. You check today, if there is no availability, you check again tomorrow, and you keep checking until you get lucky. Stupid idea, putting the onus on the passenger to check: there needs to be some sort of queuing system for these requests.

BA is generally mean with reward availability on their own metal, so you need to be very flexible with travel dates. Conversely, availability is excellent on domestic AA and QF routes, often with low mileage prices for quite long routes, even in business. Fees - taxes and charges - on these redemption fares are low. I have booked domestic US and Australian fares for under £10.00 in taxes. In comparison, modest length redemption flights ex-London can be hundreds of pounds in fees.

I would not maintain my BAEC membership if I was going to stay in the US permanently; I would swap for a domestic carrier, and probably AS. However I am returning to the UK this summer.

Do not expect BA to match status. They only do this very rarely.
I only turn left when boarding aircraft. Well, mostly. All right, sometimes. OH OKAY - rarely.
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Re: Switching Loyalties: Where to go now? CX/BA/Others?

Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:17 am

VHTJE hits the nail on the head in the first paragraph really.

I've got an AF, LH, SK and QF FF accounts. Frankly the SK one is a waste of time for me now but seemed like a good idea at the time. The LH one I dislike as I don't travel on star carriers enough now and their points drop off if you don't use them. QF is my main one and being based in LHR a high percentage of my flights are on BA plus the likes of AY IB etc so that's a greater benefit to me. The AF one just quietly ticks over.

At the end of the day the carriers are in it for themselves to buy you loyalty they are not going to shower you with points without something from you first. I think all programmes have their pluses and minuses. So you have to work the system to your best advantage but I think you may need to look at and decide where you go and with whom and make a judgement on that.

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