So you’ve diligently collected miles now what? Well, you’ve got to use them. The best way to do is by using your miles for award tickets for cheap flights and not on things like toasters in the airline’s shopping portal.
There are so many kinds of miles and so many different ways to use them. This series will be a multi-part series where I will discuss how to use miles among the three major global alliances: Star Alliance, Oneworld, and Skyteam. Along with one “partnership” run by Etihad.
Alliances are basically agreements between various airlines to work together and align products and extend their reach across the world. Airlines often expand their reach by code sharing on other airlines, meaning that two or more airlines share the same flight. You see this often on departure boards where you will see several different airline numbers for the same flight. This allows airlines airlines to share revenue and extend their reach in places that they originally could not. Furthermore airlines within an alliance can reduce costs through sharing of facilities and operational staff. I distinctly remember checking in for a Lufthansa flight at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport a few years back at the Austrian Air counter.
Enough on how alliances can benefit airlines, onto how they can benefit you. One of the main benefits of alliances is that they greatly increase the number of places a passenger can fly to on a simple straightforward reservation. Lets say someone wanted to fly to a small city in the center of South America but there are no nonstop flights to that city. How can he do it? Well the magic of alliances is that you can book a ticket to your destination through a series of alliance partners and through a series of connections you can eventually make your way to your final destination. A person could for example take a United flight to a major South American airport and connect there to United’s partner in South America, Avianca, and get to their final destination. Airlines understand that they cannot fly everywhere so they have made agreements with other airlines to easily transfer passengers. Usually connections will be timed so people don’t need to wait over half a day for their next flight plus it is now becoming common for airlines of the same alliance to share the same terminals at airports making connections even easier.
One of the biggest benefits I find is the loyalty program benefits across airlines within the same alliance. Elite travelers with status in a loyalty program often recieve benefits on other airlines of the same alliance. If one were a United Platinum passenger they would recieve Star Alliance Gold status which allows them priority boarding along with lounge access and other benefits across Star Alliance partner airlines.
You can earn also frequent flier miles across airlines within the same status. You could fly Avianca but put in your United MileagePlus number and get United miles for your Avianca flight since they’re in the same alliance. What is even better is that you can use your miles for award flights across different airlines within an alliance too. So yes, you can use your United miles for that dream trip on Lufthansa First Class. Check out a review of the product from a fellow blogger, Lucky at One Mile at a Time