Frequent flyer advice?

Old May 13th, 2003, 09:35 AM
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Frequent flyer advice?

As someone who has recently switched from being a casual, vacation-only traveler to someone who now travels 2 weeks out of every month for work, I am looking for some advice. What airlines' frequent flyer programs do you think are the most valuable and why? What is the best way to accrue miles to put toward future vacations or upgrades? Here's the lowdown on my current travel profile:
--I collect miles on Delta, NW, and AA, and they are listed in descending order of mileage.
--I travel out of Hartford, CT. (BDL)
--The territory I cover for work ranges from Minneapolis-St. Paul south to New Orleans, then up through the south and eastern seaboard.
--I currently have Silver medallion status on Delta
--I use a Delta/AMEX credit card, but my Mastercard is not affiliated with any airline
--When I travel for pleasure, (other than just visiting family and friends) I like to alternate between the Caribbean for relaxing holidays and Europe for a more culturally enriched holiday.
--I joined the NW World Club (in haste, out of frustration) last month when I got stuck in Detroit for 9 hours awaiting a standby flight. Was this a mistake?
--I generally don't care for flying Southwest unless their price + schedule is too good to turn down.
I'd appreciate any pointers, as I'm fairly new to the business of regular travel. What are the fastest ways to earn upgrades? Are there ways to get upgrades without using miles? Which airline's Crown Room/World CLub or equivalent is most worth the expense? Now that NW and Delta are partnering, can miles from both airlines be combined towards purchasing tickets/upgrades?

Thank you very much!

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Old May 13th, 2003, 10:30 AM
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Get on both Delta's and American's FF programs ASAP and change your Mastercard to Citibank card that gives AA miles. With those two, you can go most places. I like AA's program better as you can upgrade any fare, rather than with Delta where you have to buy a higher priced ticket, but I have and use both depending on where I'm going. I did hear rumors that you would be able to accrue and use Delta miles on NW and Continental, but so far it hasn't happened. You can accrue Delta miles on domestic United. Like you, I hate SW and avoid it unless it is the only option, which practically never happens.
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Old May 13th, 2003, 10:42 AM
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Actually, I already get miles on both Delta (where I'm the lowest Medallion level) and American.

A while back there was a discussion here about the pros and cons of having FF credit cards that demand an annual fee. What's your take on that, Rachel?

Yes, I know I'll be able to accrue NW miles when flying Delta, and vice versa. My question was asking whether or not they can combine towards tickets or upgrades?

What else do you specifically like about AAdvantage over other airlines' programs? And do you mean that any ticket for an AA flight can be upgraded? Even something bought at Expedia or other travel site?
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Old May 13th, 2003, 10:45 AM
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As you could you tell by my name, I prefer AA. This year will be the first time I will make top tier, so for the next 1.5 years, flying should be sweet.
Anyway, I believe you will find more informative, knowledgable advise on Flyertalk.com . It's full of frequent flyers that on daily basis disect any change, move, advantage of most if not all the airlines.
One thing I will tell you, since I discovered the world of frequent flyers, flying is actually a pleasure now. The mid or top tier card opens doors, that I never knew existed.
Good Luck!
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Old May 13th, 2003, 12:10 PM
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Here's a second to the advise proferred by AAFF......If you need to know something about the world of frequent flying...you can't possibly do any better than to log on to (and register) at Flyertalk.com.

I enjoy the Fodor's site, but more for the pure "travel" advise...anything I need to ask/know/learn or share...can be done so much easier and better on FT.

Best wishes, Hope to see you on Flyertalk!! Dave
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Old May 13th, 2003, 02:49 PM
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Check out Delta-Sucks.com. That should answer any questions about their FF program. I am a five year platinum veteran and am bailing to NWA (they are the only other major serving my hometown). Delta has implemented some really harsh restrictions on milage accruals and upgrades. So, I, along with many others
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Old May 13th, 2003, 02:53 PM
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Gotta finish:
are bailing to other airlines.

The only other consideration is longevity. One airline, maybe more, is/are going to fold. You don't want to be left holding the bag.

I've got 900,000 on Delta that I had hoped to use for retirement travel, now, I'm not sure they will make it that long.
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Old May 13th, 2003, 06:16 PM
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I've been gold elite with Northwest Airlines for several years and they have a very generous program. There are many opportunities to earn bonus miles and first class upgrades are complimentary to elite members on flights in Canada and the U.S. on a space available basis from any fare class (I'm batting about 95%, including minimum level award seats). The NWA route structure and alliances with KLM, Continental and other carriers provides broad reach worldwide.

With a little over 50,000 actual flight miles, I earned more than 385,000 FF miles last year when elite bonuses, phone service, credit card and other promotional opportunities were added into the total. In short, it's a great program that can change the entire economics and experience of travel for you.

Definitely get online with www.flyertalk.com! You will learn and earn a lot.
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Old May 13th, 2003, 06:22 PM
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I'd recommend NWA and Continental. NWA affiliates closely with CO, whose OnePass FF program is consitently rated tops by frequent travelers. You can designate your miles to go to either Worldperks or OnePass, and elite status is mutually recognized between programs. You can redeem miles on either airline. Your WorldClub membership will get you into CO's President's Club if there is no NWA World Club - in some places they actually share a club. CO has a OnePass Visa card through Chase; I use mine all the time and really rack up the miles. They also have a program called iDine through which you get 10 miles for every dollar you spend at participating restaurants. And you can redeem rewards online!
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Old May 13th, 2003, 06:45 PM
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American allows you to upgrade any paid-for ticket (even if bought on Travelocity, Orbitz, or Expedia) to first class using miles. THey do not allow upgrades on tickets bought on Priceline. I therefore prefer them over Delta which only allows upgrades on higher priced tickets. Of couse, you can get a business or first-class ticket entirely using miles on either, but in my opinion, that is a poor use of your miles. You will get milage credit for the flight if you buy a coach ticket then upgrade, but no credit if you get the ticket entirely with miles. So for a long flight, you can get a good portion of your milage back, even though you used miles to upgrade.
I do have am American Express that I have to pay an annual fee for that gives Delta miles, but the annual fee is very low in comparison to the number of miles I accrue, and they have frequent double miles months where you get 2 miles for every dollar spent. So to me, it is worth it--but I put everything I can on a credit card that accrues miles ( and pay off at the end of the month).
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Old May 13th, 2003, 07:25 PM
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Regarding this question:

"I joined the NW World Club (in haste, out of frustration) last month when I got stuck in Detroit for 9 hours awaiting a standby flight. Was this a mistake?"

I've had a WorldClubs membership for several years. It is a very nice thing to have if you do much flying. There are more than 100 NWA and affiliated clubs worldwide. As you already know, it is a much more comfortable place to kill time than in gate waiting areas and there is also an economic offset in terms of refreshments, etc. (I figure that each person stopping in at just about any airport concession produces an average cost of around $10. Multiply that by the number of times it happens and the average size of your party to just eyeball things a little...)

As you may know already, club membership fees are tiered and the higher the elite level you are, the less expensive the membership cost is. Since I always have to fly to a hub and often have family members with me, I've found it to be a worthwhile indulgence that makes travel a lot more pleasant.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 03:47 AM
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Flyboy - If for some reason ;-) I "were" logged on to Flyertalk....

"How" might I recognize posts from you there?
Best wishes, Dave
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Old May 14th, 2003, 03:58 AM
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Delta Sky Miles program is the worst. I had been trying to unload my miles but it was too difficult with their restrictions to use them. Finally,I was able to cash them in. American AA program is much easier and American is just a better airline.


How Delta has managed to avoid bankruptcy is beyond me.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 04:36 AM
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First of all, thank you for the great advice so far. It's bewildering how little I know.

I checked out flyertalk last night and despite my referring to their built in glossary for nearly every forum i checked out, i couldn't follow the talk at all. Where's the best place for me to start out for asking basic questions? is there a text search on that site like there is here where I can read past posts? I don't want to jump in an annoy folks with my neophyte questions if the info is already out there...

thanks!
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Old May 14th, 2003, 08:16 AM
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I agree with you about flyertalk--I have a terrible time finding what I am looking for on their boards--which is why I only look there occasionally. Fodors is much easier to navigate.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 08:49 AM
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Flyertalk has a culture and a language that is all its own. An easy way to begin is to click into a program that you are interested in learning more about and then using the function that allows you to see all subjects posted over the past 100 days (or something else that you choose from the options).

New people are recognized by the small number of posts listed after their screen names, but you are likely to get a little scolding for using too general of a heading (like here, when you see something like "HELP!") If you ask about something that has been covered a lot previously, your reply may be just a sterile listing of links with no comment. This is not to be rude; just a way that some people do things there. Disagreements occur, but there certain types of comments that are simply not acceptable and abusers can be given "time-outs".

It takes a little time and patience to get up to speed with some of the acronyms and terminology, but it is well worth it.

(Dave, I will reply to your e-mail address.)
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Old May 14th, 2003, 09:23 AM
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ejcrowe and Rachel - You have some very good points....The FT board can sometimes be "confusing" if you don't know where you're looking. OTOH: it can also be much more "complete" and the information more accurate than Fodor's if you DO know where to look..

Let me try, tho I admit I may fall way short of adequate!, to try and start you in the right direction. ejcrowe- Yes there is a text search function, but it is located "within" each of the forums rather than "across" forums. So, the key is to find which forum you want to be in.

Given your question here, I'd suggest that you go to MilesBuzz, which is a "general" forum where you might either get answers to your questions or could post a search. Also, since you have mileage on Delta, NW, and AA, you could check each of those forums for "specific" questions. It may simply be that your question is going to be too "broad" at first to fit neatly into an answer from the FT folks.
I don't mean to imply that "newbies" on the board are treated poorly or ignored (in fact, quite the opposite is true!!), its just that for the types of "broad" questions that you have, you may have to go to the forums and lurk for a while until a topic arises to which you can post a question.

Rachel - I don't know specifically what you're looking for in FT, but I'd be pleased to give you any help at all that I could....you're welcome to email me at the address in my profile. Best wishes, Dave
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Old May 14th, 2003, 11:47 AM
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I like to compare Fodors and Flyertalk this way. I could look at USA Today(Fodors) Business section and get a general idea of what's going on in the business world, BUT, if I want to reap profits from the business world, I would be reading Wall Street Journal(Flyertalk). When I found Flyertalk about a year ago, I have to admit, it did take me few months to get in the 'groove', but the rewards are ten fold in comparison to what I could find on Fodors. I've become very knowledable in the AA program, became mid-tier elite, moving to top elite, raking in thousands of miles, and basically not flying that much more than I used to. If you are serious about flying, and the rewards it could bring you, I suggest to invest some time, and just be patient. You will reap rewards of which you have no knowledge now.
I'm not putting Fodors down, as I do enjoy the forums, but mostly for general travel info. It's very helpful in finding info on some out of the way spots and maybe finding that romantic little cottage on the coast of ??????, basically stuff like that, but overall I would be very weary of the many posts dealing with rules and regulations pertaining to airlines and hotels and different programs, as in most cases it's more of a personal experience, as oppose to knowledgable one.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 11:59 AM
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I agree with AAFF,,,,,except that I'd be "very wary" of the posts regarding rules and regs! !!!

Best wishes, Dave
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Old May 16th, 2003, 07:19 AM
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We chose the NW frequent flyer program because NW and their (at that time) partner Midwest Express are major players at our airport. We have not had good luck it: they seem to have a million excuses as to why we can't use the miles this time, and now they have severed their relationship with Midwest Express. One consideration should definitely be who has the most flights out of the airport you use.
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