Airline alliances offer you the most cost effective and smoothest way to hop your way around the world’s busiest of airports while earning loads of miles in the process. If you are a frequent flyer, then you can easily maximize on your airline rewards at almost all connecting points of your flights because you will earn miles or points for all the qualifying flights within the airline alliance. You can also redeem your free flights and other perks at any of the airline alliance members with with varying degrees of ease of depending on the individual alliance.
The alliances cover the entire globe. So whether you are based in the US, Canada, South America, Asia, Africa or Europe, you can always find an airline alliance member that you can subscribe to so that you can begin your journey collecting your airline miles whenever and wherever you travel to. Travelers generally get more flexibility, value and seamless travel if they are loyal to a particular airline alliance.
What are airline alliances?
Airline alliances are groups of global airlines that have come together to complement each other and offer travelers using any of the alliance members greater travel and more route options. That means you could seamlessly book a KLM flight and fly on an Air France flight for particular routes.
If you sign up for a frequent flyer program for an airline that is a member of any of the leading global airline alliances, you will earn miles or rewards on any of the flights of the alliance member airline. These rewards will, invariably, multiply if you are someone who travels on a more frequent basis.
The main global airline alliances include the following:-
- Star Alliance
- Sky Team
Founded in 1999, oneworld is the second oldest global airline alliance after Star Alliance. 15 major global airlines make up the oneworld alliance including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Royal Jordanian, American Airlines, Qantas, S7 Airlines, Mexicana, SriLankan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, LATAM, Finnair, Iberia, and airberlin.
Apart from the partner airlines, there are also airlines that hold a oneworld affiliate membership. These airline affiliates constitute airlines that offer flights in conjunction with any of the partner alliance members. These include the following:-
- American Eagle in conjunction with American Airlines
- Cathay Dragon in conjunction with Cathay Pacific
- Nordic Regional Airlines in conjunction with Finnair
- Globus, in conjunction with S7 Airlines
- J-Air and Japan Transocean Air in conjunction with Japan Airlines
- JetConnect and QantasLink in conjunction with Qantas
- Comair, BA Cityflyer and British Airways Limited in conjunction with British Airways.
- NIKI in conjunction with airberlin
Founded in 1997, the Star Alliance is the oldest and largest airline alliance with 28 airlines within its network. Many of these are some of the leading airlines in the world serving all corners of the globe as well as smaller regional airlines. You can be assured of extensive coverage to virtually any corner of the world.
Member airlines of the Star Alliance include Air India, Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines, EgyptAir, Shenzhen Airlines, ANA, Air New Zealand, Thai Airways, United Airlines, Avianca, LOT Polish Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, TAP Portugal and Turkish Airlines.
Apart from the miles and rewards, membership in the Star Alliance program also gives you access to more than 1000 Star Alliance lounges across the world in some of the world’s busiest airports. If you are on business or leisurely travel or needs your quiet as well as exclusive space where you can relax and get some work done, then you can take advantage of Star Alliance’s exclusive network of luxury lounges. The Star Alliance lounges are accessible to Star Alliance Gold Members as well as passengers travelling on international Business Class or First Class on any of the alliance’s partner airlines.
Founded in 2000, SkyTeam is the newest and second largest airline alliance with 20 airline members. Its members include some of the biggest airlines in the world as well as numerous other smaller airlines. Airline members include Delta Airlines, KLM, Korean Air, Saudia, China Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Kenya Airways, Aeroflot, Garuda Indonesia, Middle East Airlines, AerolineasArgentinas, Xiamen Air, Alitalia, Tarom, and Air Europa.
Once you have joined an individual SkyTeam member airline alliance, you will earn miles across the 20 SkyTeam member airlines for all qualifying flights. The flights can be redeemed with any of the individual alliance member airlines. You can enjoy seamless global travel with SkyTeam’s SkyPriority that opens for you a world of priority services across 1000 airports globally.
Maximizing on Miles With Airline Alliances
When it comes to earning rewards with airline alliances, one of the most important decisions that you need to make is which airline alliance you will fly with. There are some people who might make this decision “locally”, by for example choosing a “home” airline. While home airlines are always a logical and convenient option, they might not be the best for your especially if you have options with other airline alliances. As we will see, certain airlines in some alliances also make it difficult for you to redeem miles earned from an alliance member.
When it comes to choosing the right alliance for you, here are some of the things that you need to keep in mind:-
- Choose the airlines that you want to fly with around the world
- Look at the alliances that these airlines belong with
- Pick an airline alliance that best suits your style and travel itinerary
- Pick the reward or frequent flyer program that you wish to join.
Choosing Your Airline
Every traveler has their favorite airlines. You might like them for their cheap fares, quality of service, generous frequent flyer programs and various other considerations. Here is a rough table that you can use to pick the best airline alliance for your needs.
|Preferred Airlines||Airline Alliance||Membership Target||Comments|
Picking Your Airline Alliance
Once you have listed the group of airlines that you typically travel with, do a little basic research and identify the alliances that they belong to. Continue updating the table above with information on the alliances that your airline belongs to:-
|Preferred Airlines||Airline Alliance||Membership Target||Comments|
Choose Your Airline
Finally, it is time to pick your airline as well as the alliance that you will mostly be flying in for your trips around the world. Because you want to maximize on your airline miles not just with the airline but with all the airlines in the alliance that you plan to fly with, the following considerations should be on your mind:-
- Does the airline provide any generous bonuses when you sign up for its frequent flyer program?
- Does the airline offer branded or co-branded credit cards that you can utilize to earn extra miles on your travels?
- What is the value of the points or miles worth?
- What are the routes served by the airlines in the alliance? Will the routes in the alliance serve your regular travel needs?
- What is the ease of redeeming your points or miles with the other airlines in the alliance?
Complete your tables above, listing the perks and disadvantages of each of the airlines’ frequent flyer programs. Remember that choosing an airline within an alliance does not preclude you from flying with other airlines. In fact, you can fly with airlines that belong to all the three alliances as long as they give you the desired route options.
However, if you want to maximize on the miles that you collect, you need to segment your miles accrual strategy and stick to an alliance that offers you the best connections depending on your travel itinerary. An airline like Emirates, for example, can offer you an excellent route connection around the world even though it is not a member of any particular airline alliance. Choosing the best alliance to fly with should be a math that you do meticulously so as to ensure your travel needs are adequately met.
Join the Airline Loyalty Programs
Now move ahead and pick your preferred airline loyalty programs. You need to keep a good record of the various loyalty clubs that you are a member of, the loyalty club numbers and the points that you are accruing. There is also a tool that you can use to simplify everything for you: Award Wallet. Check out the website here https://awardwallet.com/.
There are certain things to keep in mind when flying with an airline alliance and accruing your miles. Make sure you quote your frequent flyer number when you are booking your flight or checking in so as to ensure you get awarded your points when taking your flight. This is a much quicker way to earn your loyalty points or miles.
So which airline alliance are you accruing your points with? Are you getting value by flying within the alliance? Let us know in the comment section!