best FF to use

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Apr 5th, 2006, 05:30 AM
  #1
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best FF to use

Hi,
After seeing Patty's amazing use of her FF miles, I looked a bit closer at my World Perks awards and realized that there may be better co. to hook up with. I'm wondering if I should use my NW miles and start over with another award system.

My main objective would be to gain the most amount of miles asap to fly to Africa as I know I'll be going quite a few more times.
Can you tell me who your using for awards and why? Pros and cons.
Thanks;
Sherry
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Apr 5th, 2006, 06:55 AM
  #2
 
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There's really no "best" product - it depends so much on your traveling and spending patterns. If you are a frequent NW flyer (or on one of their mileage partners) but seldom travel on any other airlines, then switching to some other plan will just slow things down while you "catch up" to where you want to be.

In general, NW's redemption chart for Africa is equal to, or worse than, similar charts for other airlines or consortia. (NW is part of Skyteam, United is in Star Alliance, American in oneworld.)

For the time being, Star Alliance seems to offer the best penetration into Africa, based on South African Airways joining Star next week. With their entry, you'll have a choice of several excellent carriers who you can use to get into Africa - Swiss, Lufthansa, SAA itself, TAP Portuguese, Singapore... versus only British and Cathay Pacific on oneworld and KLM and one or two others with Skyteam. Thus for N. America-based travelers, the United, USAir, or Air Canada programs (all Star members) might offer the most options for redemptions into Africa.

One thing to look at is the award scale from Europe into Africa rather than N.America to Africa. Most years, one can buy transatlantic tickets for reasonable prices. If you then spend your miles for award tix from Europe to Africa and back, you may find that you're using fewer miles and getting better bang for your buck.

In our case, for instance, American Airlines charges 75,000 miles for Europe-Africa awards in business class. NW charges 110,000. Thus this September we're flying on discount ticketes to Europe, then on biz class to South Africa and back to Europe. Much more economical than the 150,000 miles we would burn on a business award all the way.

If you do fly on NW a lot, have a look at the Alaska Airlines plan. In general AS' redemption chart is favorable compared to some other airlines, and you get (for the time being) full reciprocity with NW regarding elite qualification etc.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 07:01 AM
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Just as an FYI, I recently looked into doing the home equity line "trick" to earn ff miles,as Patty did. But the company (Wamu) I was dealing with said that they no longer issue ff miles for home equity lines as too many smart people were doing exactly what Patty did....earning the miles and then paying back the $ right away.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 07:47 AM
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I prefer Delta SkyMiles because you can transfer American Express Membership Miles into your SkyMiles account. Delta, together with other SkyTeam carriers, also goes to the places I intend to visit in the upcoming years, especially now that Aeroflot has joined (which will allow me to earn miles on my planned trip to the Stans next Summer). SkyTeam also covers West Africa, which I hope to revisit in 2007 or 2008. I can also get to NBO (on KLM) or JNB (on Air France or Delta), so for me, its the best product.

Delta is weak, though, on flights to NZ and Australia.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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sherry:
May I add a question? Does it make a difference whether you want to go to East Africa or Southern Africa?

I have been focusing on building up US Air for the next trip (because we have a base of points there and wiped out Delta for the last trip). But I was thinking that I could not get to Tanzania through Star Alliance--was thinking of a USAir ff business to Amsterdam and then buy economy tickets to Africa. (June trip--when tickets to Europe are expensive.) Am I missing out on some possibilities to get to TZ through Star Alliance?
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Apr 5th, 2006, 08:17 AM
  #6
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Thanks for your info.
I do see your point gardyloo about flying to Europe and then using the remaining points for miles to Africa. I have thought about that. My world perks chart doesn't even show how many points are needed for that stretch Eur. - Africa. Do you pay for business class or economy to get to Europe? I would probably have to fly econ. to Eur. which is horrible on the NW torture planes.

Does anyone know if the Air Frances planes/flights are any better? I think they fly into Nairobi - not sure about J'burg.

My other dilemma is that I fly occasionally to Tahiti - no one seems to apply those miles - just a redeem only.

Also, my international US flights are usually on the el cheapo Spirit Air (not so bad), Southwest (hate them)or similar. I don't think they're affiliated with anyone - true?

World perks does have a deal with the Lending Tree but it doesn't seem to great for refinancing - 1250 mi. for each 10,000. financed.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 08:29 AM
  #7
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bat - I think KLM flys to Nairobi and J'burg.
Thit cho - can one transfer world perks miles over to Delta? (that is they don't go under)
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Apr 5th, 2006, 08:53 AM
  #8
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sherry:
NW is part of skyteam so you can use NW points to get to Africa on any of the Skyteam partners which means KLM. My friend used NW miles to fly business to Africa--NW to Amsterdam and then KLM to JBO. We used Delta (also Skyteam).

My personal problem for a repeat trip to TZ is that I do not see any way to build up enough points on Delta (or NWA) by this June/July (to try for tickets for June 07). I think we might be able to build up US Air but I am not sure what that does in terms of getting to East Africa (rather than just Europe).

Have you settled on Botswana? I am not clear what is best for East Africa vs Southern Africa. Michael said that Skyteam covered West Africa. From what garyloo posted, Star Alliance looks good for southern africa.

So let me put the questions this way:

How can one use Star Alliance for East Africa?
How can one use Skyteam for southern Africa?

(sherry that should help you find out if you can use your NWA/Skyteam to get to Botswana.)
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Apr 5th, 2006, 08:57 AM
  #9
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please ignore my redund. comments 3 of us posted at the same time. fodor's somehow put mine up later????? couldn't handle the traffic jam
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Apr 5th, 2006, 09:08 AM
  #10
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Hi Bat,
Can't answer your question about star alliance.
Yes, I can use my miles to get to E. or S. Africa via Europe - is that what you were asking?

My question is, Can I switch from one provider to another i.e. World perks to say skymiles if the benifits are better - would I be able to move previously awarded miles from one vendor to another?
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Apr 5th, 2006, 09:32 AM
  #11
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hi sherry:
I do not think that you can turn worldperks into skymiles--but someone else may know otherwise.

What would turning them into Delta miles do for you since they are both Skyteam? Does NWA require more points?

How would you use Skyteam to get to S. Africa?

Thanks--BTW, do you know when you might be going?

And in answer to your first question, like Michael, I use AMEX rewards to supplement ff miles--the loss of U.S. Air hurt but Delta is still in.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 09:59 AM
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In SykTeam, KLM flies to NBO and Air France flies to JNB. I don't think you can fly to NBO on Air France.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 11:16 AM
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Sherry,
Gardyloo has given you some very good info to consider. First of all, you can't convert miles from one program into another without some significant devaluation of your miles (that's if it's possible at all to convert, depends on the specific programs), so I wouldn't give up on NW Worldperks just yet if you already have a stash of miles there. You mentioned that you fly to Tahiti occasionally. Air France flies from LAX to PPT and is a SKyteam carrier so perhaps next time you could look into flying Air France and you should be able to earn Worldperks miles on those flights. See the earning chart here (it looks like Air Tahiti Nui is only a redemption partner) - http://www.nwa.com/worldperks/earn/airfl.shtml

Are you a big credit card spender? If so, do you have a Worldperks affiliated credit card? Miles from credit card spending can be combined with miles from flying for faster earning. There are usually substantial sign up bonuses. You and DH could each get your own account. Do you have a business? If so, get a business card too (the sign up bonuses are usually separate for business and personal cards). Get a business card even if you don't have a business Of course it makes more sense to pay an annual fee if you can actually deduct the expense but most "small business" cards are based on personal credit anyway, and you can easily call yourself a sole proprietorship and use your SSN as your tax ID. Current offers are updated frequently here - www.freefrequentflyermiles.com

With Worldperks you need 90,000 coach or 120,000 business for a ticket from US to Africa - http://www.nwa.com/worldperks/direct/charts/us49.html

Delta is only slightly better at 80,000/120,000. All airlines will have their redemption table somewhere on their website, so you can compare

NW Worldperks actually has very good redemption options for Africa as not only do you have the Skyteam carriers, they're also partners with Kenya Airways which gives you good coverage of East and Southern Africa. With Delta, I don't have the option of Kenya Airways currently though there's talk of them joining Skyteam.

I'm Delta/Amex but wouldn't recommend getting into Skymiles right now

bat,
With Star Alliance, I believe you'd need to use South African Airways to get to East Africa. It may also be possible to use SWISS since their merger with Lufthansa. Of the 3 alliances, I'm least familiar with Star, but I think those would be your two options to East Africa. All 3 alliances should have websites detailing their route network. That may be the best place to start. Keep in mind that in addition to alliances, each airline has their own non-alliance partners (like SAA and Virgin used to be for Delta) so there may be more redemption opportunities outside of the alliance network.

As far as the Skyteam carriers that fly to Southern Africa, KLM and Air France both fly to South Africa and other African nations. There's a map for both AF and KL destinations (of which I can't seem to pull up the direct link right now) if you navigate through www.airfrance.us

Malaysia is supposed to be joining Skyteam and they fly to JNB and CPT though you may need to do a bit of roundabout flying via Buenos Aires or Kuala Lumpur And Delta has announced that they plan to operate their own flights ATL-JNB (with stop in Dakar) starting in December.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 12:06 PM
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Sherry,
Here's the Worldperks award chart from Europe - http://www.nwa.com/worldperks/direct/charts/europe.html

Looks like you'd need 70,000/110,000 to Africa.

Here's a link for a Worldperks Signature visa that comes with a 15,000 first purchase bonus with an additional 10,000 if you keep the account open 15 months - http://www.worldperksvisa.com/cgi_w/...irect=perks457

Same offer with the business card - http://www.worldperksvisa.com/cgi_w/...irect=perks501

I don't think US Bank waives the first year's annual fee like Amex often does, so you'll have to determine if it's a good value for you.

There may be better offers out there so check around before applying. If you find a better offer after you've applied, it's unlikely that they'll switch you. The Worldperks board on Flyertalk has a wealth of info as well.

Print out and keep all documentation pertaining to these offers until the miles have appeared in your account.

bat,
I still don't know how to post a direct link to the AF/KL map, but go here http://tinyurl.com/klkye and click on Africa.

BTW, since SAA and Swiss are new entries to Star Alliance, I don't actually know if redemption for Dividend Miles members has started yet. I assume it'll be implemented sometime in the future if it hasn't already. Check the US board on FT for updates.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 12:32 PM
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Forgot to say good luck getting back to Africa in June 07, bat!

Gardyloo,
Wouldn't Iberia also be an option with oneworld?
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Apr 5th, 2006, 01:18 PM
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Wouldn't Iberia also be an option with oneworld?

Yes, and Qantas. I was half asleep this morning (apparently) when I wrote the earlier thread. No editing on Fodors, drat.

I should know this because we're flying MAD-JNB on Iberia (J) and JNB-ZRH on Swiss a few weeks later, and went SYD-JNB on Qantas last year. Doh.

Apparently redemption of Star miles on SAA is good to go as SAA's logo is all over various Star-affiliate websites.

Somewhat distracted today because of trying to get in on Alitalia's amazing incompetenza this morning - Toronto to Cyprus business class RTs for US$180. (Documented on the airline and Europe boards.) So not paying overly close attention to lists of airlines.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 01:46 PM
  #17
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patty:
You are such a fount of knowledge =D>

Thanks also for the good luck wish. I need it because I do not yet have Fred on board with my plans--and since it will be his birthday celebration he not only has veto rights, I would not feel right pushing him into something. Well, some pushing would be OK. He has very fond memories of Amsterdam from years ago and so the idea of 2 trips in 1--Europe and Africa--is a selling point. Like Mark, he said no to economy--at least the whole way. I might be able to do ff business to Europe and then buy economy to Africa.

How are your plans coming?
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Apr 5th, 2006, 02:22 PM
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Gardyloo,
Yes, I saw your post on the airlines board this morning. Congrats on scoring those. Any chance of Alitalia (or any airline for that matter) not honoring the mistake or are they contractually bound once you make the purchase? I've never tried for one of these deals.

bat,
A little gentle nudging is very OK

I'm in a holding pattern. I don't want to transfer my Amex MR points over to Delta right now. I could transfer them to Continental and issue one ticket from Onepass and one from Skymiles. Theoretically, the availability should be the same. Still pondering this option.

Other than that, I've been working on a Kenya itinerary with Eastern & Southern and am still waiting to hear back from Foxes on rates and availability for Sand Rivers. I have to say that while I know others here have been pleased with their trips arranged through Foxes, I've not been too happy with their communication thus far.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 02:29 PM
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I did not realize that Foxes booked stays at other lodges--I thought they just booked their own.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 02:58 PM
  #20
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Patty,
I was hoping you'd surface. As usual, your a wealth of info. Thanks.

I already have signed up for the personal visa. I hadn't seen the business card visa deal though and will check it out. My co. is an llc. so that shouldn't be a problem - thanks for that tip.

I do prefer traveling with Tahiti Nui as they're so good. I guess to earn miles I'll have to suck it up and switch to Air France and take traveling abuse for award miles. The other thing that I'll start doing is using some of the rec. award hotels even though I usually like the small more intimate types.
All to get to Africa.
Sherry
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