How to earn more airline rewards with airline alliances

Anne’s latest travel hacking advice is all about how you can  earn more airline rewards with airline alliances. As always, she’s broken it down to make it super simple for beginner travel hackers!

If you who have been following my travel hacking tips, you will be aware that I talk about British airways rewards (AVIOS) a lot. After all, I am British and I like flying in style so it’s the easiest way for me to fulfil my need for comfort (OK I confess, the champagne and lounge access is also a draw) without limiting my earnings options.

However I know many of you are based in the US and other countries around the world, and for you being wedded to British Airways may not be an ideal solution. Don’t worry though, the airline alliance may be your answer.

What is an airline alliance?

An airline alliance is a collection of airlines who have grouped together to offer greater route options to their clients. By partnering with other airlines, they can offer you a wider choice of routes albeit some of the flights may be operated by other alliance members.

If you are a member of an airline loyalty club which is part of an alliance you will earn points on all flights you take on alliance member airlines. It is thus much easier to build rewards quickly.

Oneworld

For instance, British Airways is part of Oneworld which includes Finnair, Qatar airlines, Berlin Airlines, Iberia, Qantas and many more. If you are a member of the British Airways loyalty programme, every time you fly with one of the these airlines you bank points to your Executive Club account.

Star Alliance

Lufthansa is part of Star Alliance which includes airlines such as Turkish Airways and Air New Zealand. I’m flying to the Phillippines with Turkish Airlines later in the year and am earning Lufthansa Miles and More points.

Not all airlines are part of an alliance but they may have partners with whom you can earn and redeem miles. Emirates Skywards is a good example of this. The end result is the same but you will only find reference to partners on their site.

Some airline alliances are more powerful than others

Alas, all airline alliances are not created equal. Some offer more options than others whether it be routes, airline choices or bargain bucket redemptions. It pays to do some research before committing to one specific alliance to ensure that you have the best chance of making those rewards work for you.

It can seem like something of a minefield trying to navigate the various alliances and figure out which is best for you. The danger is that you will simply do what I did and jump into them all with a scattergun approach. Better to collect points with many airlines than none at all right?

‘Mmm, maybe not!’ If you collect lots of points in lots of programmes you may find you can never redeem them. With some loyalty clubs, inactivity on an account even means you lose the points. What a waste! Inactivity doesn’t have to mean flying though…it can be any activity, whether it is a purchase through the airline shop, completing a survey or reviewing an hotel.

The point is, you need to be strategic as keeping on top of things can be difficult even with a focussed approach. With a scattergun approach, it will be nigh on impossible.

So I’m going to help you out today by helping you decide which loyalty clubs to join and why.

How to earn more airline rewards with airline alliances

How to earn more airline rewards with airline alliances

The Easy Four step approach to earning more airline rewards with airline alliances

This is a simple four step plan to identify the best airline alliance/s to grow your reward balances. Better yet, I’m going to provide you with a few tools to simplify things further. Let’s start with the four steps:

  1. Identify which airlines you fly with
  2. Identify which airline alliance they belong to
  3. Select the most promising alliance/s
  4. Select the individual reward programmes to join

Let’s look at each of these steps in turn.

Step One: Identify which airlines you fly with

This is pretty self-explanatory. You may find it useful to make a note of those you use most frequently using a chart like the one I’ve completed using myself as an example.

My Usual Airlines Alliance Target Membership Notes
British Airways
Qatar
Emirates
Etihad
Delta
Turkish
United
Easyjet
Lufthansa

Step Two: Identify which airline alliance they belong to

Having visited each of the airline alliance sites (Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam) make a note of which airline alliance your airline belongs to. Or save yourself time and use this free airline alliance infographic which identifies which airline belongs to which alliance.

Update your table as follows.

 My Usual Airlines Alliance Target Membership Notes
 British Airways Oneworld
 Qatar Oneworld
 Emirates Emirates Skywards
 Etihad Etihad Guest
 Delta Skyteam
 Turkish Star Alliance
 United Star Alliance
 EasyJet Emirates Skywards
Lufthansa Star Alliance

Step Three: Select the most promising alliances

In our example above, you can see that although I am using nine airlines, I only need to be a member of an airline from each of the five alliances/partner groups I have identified.

I now need to select an airline from each of:

1) Oneworld

2) Star Alliance

3) Emirates Skywards

4) Etihad Guest

5) Skyteam

Step four: Pick Your Airline

Of course, the question then is do I join British Airways or Qatar Airline’s scheme within the Oneworld scheme, and Lufthansa or Turkish Airlines within the Star Alliance group (Note: You do not join Oneworld but select one of the airlines within the alliance.)

This is where step four is critical. You will need to do some research on each of the member airlines sites to answer the following questions, and identify the most beneficial for you.

  1. Do they offer a branded credit card allowing additional points to be earned without flying? (Check out this post if you’re interested in travel hacking without a credit card as you can still earn rewards)
  2. Do the routes they offer suit your needs?
  3. Are they running any promotions which would make them more appealing?

In my example, I selected British Airways because they have a branded credit card which allows me to earn 1.5 points per £1 spent. They also offer a companion voucher for any year in which I spend £10,000 on the card and they offer me both long haul and short haul route options meaning I am naturally going to fly with them more frequently.

For Star Alliance, Lufthansa is a better option for me than United because they offer me the option to fly both long and short haul whereas United only offer earning options for long haul flights into or out of the USA.

Turkish Airlines could be a good option too as they are clearly trying to capture market share with some excellent prices on long haul routes currently.

My completed chart now looks as follows.

 Airline Alliance Target Membership Notes
British Airways Oneworld British Airways Companion Voucher, 1.5 points per £1 spend on credit card, long and short haul flights
Qatar Oneworld No No credit card available to UK residents
Emirates Emirates Skywards Emirates Not a member of an alliance although they have partners. They have a good selection of routes from Manchester
Etihad Etihad Guest Etihad Not a member of an alliance although they have partners. They have a good selection of routes from Manchester
Delta Skyteam Delta Good for transatlantic routes and US domestic flights
Turkish Star Alliance No Good choice of routes but no credit card available to UK residents
United Star Alliance No Lufthansa is a better option as offers both long and short haul routes
EasyJet Emirates Skywards No Can earn points through the Emirates programme
Lufthansa Star Alliance Lufthansa Long and short haul routes available and a credit card is available to UK residents

The ones highlighted in pink are the loyalty clubs I would need to join (if I hadn’t already!).

Relax, now you have done the hard work, the next bit is pretty easy.

Sign up for the loyalty clubs

Just go ahead and sign up for the loyalty clubs of your chosen airlines. You may wish to use a table like the one below to make a note of your membership number and login details.

Airline Member   Loyalty Club Membership Number User Name Password
 Anne British Airways Executive Club xxxxxxxx username password

Don’t forget…

Whenever you fly with any other airline within the alliance, simply quote your chosen airline loyalty club number when booking or checking in and earn points once the flight has been taken. This way you will be earning those all important points much quicker!

So you are all set now. Go forth and multiply your airlines to multiply your miles.

Which alliance has you hooked?

What do you think? Have you ever used an airline alliance to rack up the points quickly? Feel free to share your experience below as we would love to hear from you.

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Anne Slater-Brooks

Anne is on a quest to explore the world having visited more than 70 countries on six continents. She has backpacked, flash-packed, sailed, dived and skied the globe. She's had a few scary experiences involving sharks, snakes and snowmobiles, but thankfully lived to tell the tale, and is now our resident expert on travel hacking, showing you how to earn free hotel stays and bag business class flights for less than economy.

SHOWHIDE Comments (3)
  1. Good write-up!

    Small typo: 1) Openworld
    A new alliance? 🙂

    At Flystein we always suggest to our customers to choose one program in each alliance and stick to it to have better chances to earn enough miles for award flights. You have it covered too, maybe some extra highlight would be good.

    For SkyTeam in Europe AirFrance/KLM is quite common and could be useful especially with Promo Awards.

    We are starting own blog soon would you be interested in guest posts, etc?

    Cheers!

  2. Great article with such useful information. I always wondered if my rewards for airlines word within the alliance. This opens up a whole new world of flying deals for me!

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