The significant advantage of a frequent flyer program is obviously the miles. With these programs, frequent flyers receive perks such as free flights, upgrades and other travel-related perks.

Luckily, there is no limit on how many programs you can join. But to get as many frequent flyer miles as you possibly can, it doesn’t make sense to enrol in every single airline’s program.

Where to Start with Miles

When selecting an frequent flyer program, go for the airline that has the most flights out of Singapore or the one that serves the destinations you are likely to visit more often.

 


Fly often, save big

When choosing the best airline rewards program for you, there are three factors you should take into consideration:

  • How easy (or not) it is to earn a flight with your miles and rewards.
  • Whether you get extra perks other than flights.
  • Whether blackout dates apply to the program.
  • How soon do the miles expire.
  • And, how easy it is to achieve a higher status (silver, gold, elite, etc.).

Why are frequent flyer programs still relevant?

According to PWC reports, roughly 7% of flights are paid for with points or miles which tells us that there are plenty of travellers benefiting from these alliances.

Others have an opposing view and say that these loyalty programs only bring real benefits for the airlines itself, not for the consumer.

Where to Start with Miles

Even if you are new at this, a great place to start is to have a general idea of where you want to go, or how you want to get there.

 

Are you a frequent flyer?

If you often fly (8 or more times per year), it makes sense to try to obtain elite status with your preferred frequent flyer program to get free access to the lounges and other airline perks.

Infrequent Flyer?

Travelling once to three times per year? Choose and focus on one frequent flyer program in a large alliance that has other partners in the region, and earn miles through all sorts of various, non-flying ways. You’ll have better chances to get your free ticket quicker.

It is tough for occasional travellers to get upgrades. – Elite status, with its access to upgrades, is the primary goal of real frequent travellers. But occasional travellers don’t usually fly enough to earn elite status, and might not spend enough to make it via spending to earn miles.

Still, if you want to give it a chance, what would be the best options if you fly from Singapore? Let’s look at the options available.


Which frequent flyer program to choose in SEA?

Image credit: Ethan McArthur | Unsplash

There are three major airline alliances: Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam, gathering the majority of airlines across the world. Use this handy map to check which alliance are your preferred airlines part of.

Star Alliance

Star Alliance is one of the world’s largest global alliances with 27 member airlines and serving airports in 192 countries. Among its partner airlines, we find All Nippon Airways (ANA), United Airlines, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, and of course, Singapore Airlines.

Star Alliance main hubs in Asia are Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok and more. For us living in Singapore, it is useful to be part of at least one Star Alliance frequent flyer programme.

Star Alliance has two premium levels, Silver and Gold, based on a traveller’s status in a member’s frequent flyer program that most its members and regional airlines recognise. The membership is based on the frequent flyer programs of each individual airlines.

One World

Oneworld was originally launched by five member airlines – American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Qantas and Canadian International (which withdrew from the alliance as the airline merged into Air Canada). Today, the alliance has grown to 13 member airlines and around 30 affiliate airlines.

One World doesn’t have much action in SEA, so unless you often travel to Japan or to the EU and the US, it might not be the most obvious choice for you.

Skyteam

Skyteam has around 20 airline members, including Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, KLM, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia and Vietnam Airlines. The perks included with SkyTeam include priority reservation waitlisting, booking, and boarding.

If you travel regularly to and within China, know that among SkyTeam’s members are China Eastern and Xiamen Airlines Co.

Also with Skyteam, Korean Air is an excellent choice from anywhere in the world. Yes, even if you travel to Europe, Australia or the US. The airline offers arguably some of the best rates in the entire SkyTeam alliance for using points towards more comfortable flights.

Asia Miles

Also worth mentioning is Asia Miles. Asia Miles is Cathay Pacific’s frequent flyer programme that allows you to redeem flights on Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and over 20 partner airlines. Asia Miles is a good choice if you like travelling to Hong Kong, China and Japan. Apart from Cathay Airlines, Asia Miles can also be used on the other airlines in the OneWorld alliance.

You can earn Asia Miles with your regular spending through credit cards and redeem flights for free.

Note: Don’t confuse Asia Miles with the other Cathay Pacific loyalty programme, Marco Polo Club (see table below). This is a different Cathay membership programme, and it has a US$100 enrolment fee. Its flight redemptions are still done through Asia Miles.


Top programs for each alliance

Let’s look at the top programs for each big alliance.

Best Oneworld frequent flyer programs

OneWorld offers good prestige cabin redemption options, but relatively fewer destinations.

Highlighted Airlines:

  • British Airways has the option to create a household account that allows up to 7 members who share the same permanent address.
  • Japan Airlines’ elite benefits can be useful if you regularly fly Japan Airlines and/or Oneworld Alliance flights. Japan Airlines awards its most frequent travellers with bonus miles and no blackout dates for award tickets. If Japan Airlines status sounds appealing, try to earn the Premier and possibly the Diamond tier. Unlike some frequent flyer programs, Japan Airlines doesn’t offer an option to earn elite status through credit card spend.

Best Star Alliance frequent flyer programs

Star Alliance has a  broader selection of airlines and destinations.

Highlighted Airlines:

  • Asiana – With Asiana Club is easier to get and keep Gold status. It helps that this program has Marriott/SPG group of hotels as a partner. Asiana offers a Family Mileage Plan for up to 8 family members including spouse, children, parents, paternal/maternal grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, son in law, daughter in law, and parents of the spouse.
    This programme is also known for giving lifetime Star Alliance Gold membership at 500,000 miles. The other status is valid for two years which is more generous than most programmes.
  • ANA permits to share family accounts for 2 to 8 members who reside outside of Japan. The eligible members can be a spouse, partner or relatives. One useful perk if you fly ANA is that they give you upgrade points which can be used for flight upgrades, separately from miles. ANA’s Mileage Club has an easy to use booking engine for redemptions, but not many other exclusive perks.
  • Aegean allows its Silver and Gold elite members to activate a joint account and add up to 5 members. It is also one of the easiest airlines to get Gold status with. You need only 24000 miles over a 12-month period.
  • Turkish Airlines makes family membership available to Elite members. These Family miles could be pooled with a spouse and unmarried children under 25.
  • Air New Zealand offers an attractive points program which applies mostly to New Zealand residents.
  • Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer is an obvious choice for us in Singapore. One of the main benefits is certain redemption on Singapore flights which is unavailable to non-members. This frequent flyer program allows members to enjoy perks such as bonus miles, priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling, and lounge access.

You can earn bonus miles by flying with Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot, Star Alliance and other partner airlines. But redeeming them for flights has become a little more difficult since this April because the carrier has announced that it would be devaluating KrisFlyer specifically for its Star Alliance partner awards. Now, KrisFlyer members will need more miles to redeem flights on Star Alliance partner airlines in first and business class cabins.


Best SkyTeam frequent flyer programs

SkyTeam alliance has guaranteed economy seats available for elite members.

Highlighted Airlines:

  • Delta, SkyMiles Program offer miles without expiration and seasonal promo awards from the USA to Australia. They don’t offer family miles.
  • Air France/KLM with its Flying Blue Program that offers regular promo awards.
  • Virgin Australia has a family pooling for up to six family members.
  • Etihad offers family membership account with up to eight family guests.
  • Emirates offers a family option with up to eight family members, including domestic helper.
  • JetBlue’s offers also include family pooling with up to two adults and five children.
Frequent Flyers ProgramAirlineAirline AllianceCost to joinMinimum elite status requirementOther perks and conditionsHow to join

KrisFlyer

Singapore Airlines ( + SilkAir, Scoot and other partner airlines)

Star Alliance

Free to join.

  • 25,000 Elite miles earned within 12 consecutive months to reach Elite Silver.
  • 50,000 Elite miles within 12 months to earn Elite Gold.
  • exclusive discounts on advance seat selection, pre-purchased additional baggage, as well as other add-on deals.
  • KrisFlyer miles expire after 3 years.

Become a KrisFyer member.

Asia Miles - Marco Polo Club

Cathay Pacific

One World

$100 fee to join

  • 20 club points to earn Green.
  • 300 club points for Silver.
  • 600 club points for Gold.
  • 1,200 club points for Diamond.

The Asia Miles website will allow you to book Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, British Airways, Alaska Airlines, Finnair, Iberia, Qantas and Qatar Airways flights.

Join Asia Miles.

Smiles&Miles

Turkish Airlines

Star Alliance

Free registration.

  • 25,000 Status Miles in the past 12 months to upgrade to Miles&Smiles Classic Plus.
  • 40,000 Status Miles in the past 12 months to upgrade to Miles&Smiles Elite.
  • 80,000 Status Miles in the past 12 months to upgrade to Miles&Smiles Elite Plus.
  • Turkish Airlines miles expire 3 years after they’re earned.
  • Requirements to pay fuel surcharges and go through a process to make award bookings using Turkish Airlines miles.

Join Smiles & Miles here.

Mileage Club

ANA

Star Alliance

Register/log into ANA.

  • 30,000 premium points in one year for Bronze.
  • 50,000 premium points in one year for Platinum.
  • 100,000 premium points in one year for Diamond.
  • ANA miles expire at the end of the 36th month in which the miles were earned.
  • Bronze perks: Elite Reservations Desk, access to the ANA Lounge, early reservations, advance seat reservation and priority check-in desk.
  • Platinum perks: Free upgrades to the premium economy, priority baggage claim, exclusive security checkpoint.
  • Diamond perks: Access to the ANA Suite Lounge, personal concierge to greet you at the Tokyo-Haneda or Tokyo-Narita ANA Suite Lounge, and no extra fees for changes on international flights.

Join the Mileage Club here.

Flying Blue

Air France - KLM

SkyTeam

Flying Blue program is free to join.

  • Need to earn 100 XP to move up to Silver.
  • Need to earn 180 XP to move up to Gold.
  • Need to earn 300 XP to move up to Platinum
  • Need to earn 300 XP in 12 months time to maintain Platinum.

See the benefits for each status here.

Mileage expiration depends on elite status:

  • Air France and KLM miles will expire after 2 years of no qualifying activity for Explorers.

  • Flying Blue Miles are valid for life if one of the following is true:

    • You take an eligible flight on Air France, KLM or other SkyTeam partner at least once every 2 years.
    • You’re an Elite or Elite Plus member.
    • You make a purchase with an eligible credit card at least once every 2 years.

Join Flying Blue here.

Mileage Bank

Japan Airlines

One World

Free to enrol.

  • Crystal: at least 30,000 FLY ON Points or 30 flights (including at least 15 JAL Group flights)and 10,000 FLY ON Points.
  • Sapphire: at least 50,000 FLY ON Points or at least 50 flights (including at least 25 JAL Group flights) and 15,000 FLY ON Points.
  • Premiere: at least 80,000 FLY ON Points or 80 flights (including at least 40 JAL Group flights) and 25,000 FLY ON Points.
  • Diamond: at least 100,000 FLY ON Points or 120 flights (including at least 60 JAL Group flights) and 35,000 FLY ON Points.
  • Elite status is only useful if you fly the airline or other OneWorld partners regularly.
  • You can also redeem your miles for things like coupons or tours.
  • The miles are valid until the last day of the 36th month after your flight.
  • This Japan Airlines miles program lacks transferable point partners.

Enrol here

SKYPASS

Korean Air

SkyTeam

Free to join.

To earn elite status you need:

  • To fly a certain number of miles on either Korean Air or a SkyTeam partner airline flight.
  • To fly a certain number of segments, all of which must be on Korean Air.

The SKYPASS program has 3 tiers of elite status:

Morning Calm Club

  • Additional checked baggage allowance
  • Access to the Korean Air Prestige Class lounge (up to 4 times over 2 years)

Morning Calm Premium Club:

  • All Morning Club benefits.
  • Off-peak mileage redemption pricing during peak season dates

Million Miler Club

  • All Morning Club Premium Club benefits.
  • Waived award ticket change fees
  • A special gift

The benefits to elite members are limited.

Join SKYPASS here.

Skywards

Emirates

None

Free to join.

  • Silver: earn 25,000 Tier Miles or take 25 flights
  • Gold: earn 50,000 Tier Miles or take 50 flights
  • Platinum: earn 150,000 Tier Miles (no way to earn solely by flights)

Tier Miles are only earned on Emirates-operated flights or codeshares on other airlines that are marketed EK.

Gold Tier status provides valuable business class lounge access through the Emirates network.

It isn't easy to amass the Tier Points necessary for Platinum Tier. The few who do will receive coveted first class lounge access and priority travel benefits.

Join Emirates Skywards here.

 

In summary,

Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles programme and Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer are two of the most popular frequent flyer programmes in Southeast Asia.

With Star Alliance, KrisFlyer is the obvious choice for most frequent flyers in Singaporeans, but it is always a wise choice to prospect what are the other options available.

Asia Miles and Skyteam are also relevant for Asian travellers.


Frequent Flyer programs in this day and age

Image credit: Menglong Bao | Unsplash

Airline miles cost an average of 61% more than they’re worth when purchased rather than earned through flying. And, as consumers, we can expect loyalty programs to become less and less generous. Airlines seem to keep moving towards a service that is stripped of any additional offerings model.

Some airlines still offer loyalty members a free checked bag, but that isn’t the norm anymore.

Best tips to maximise your miles earnings

1. To really maximize earnings, consider signing up for the airline’s partner credit cards if any. You can earn more miles on the ground via a credit card than by flying, these days. Building loyalty with a specific airline by spending more with its brand will put you in the best position to earn free flights, upgrades and other perks.

2. You can earn extra miles and points for things you already do, with little or no additional effort. Search and sign up for free dining rewards programs where you’ll earn points/miles just for eating at some of your regular restaurants and cafes.

3. Already a member of a couple frequent flyer programs? Try to get a status match. Some airlines would entice you to switch over to their program if they recognise you as a high-value consumer and match your status of the previous program.


No matter how generous an airline’s rewards program is, make sure it travels to the places you want to go — or partner with other airlines that do. There is no point in accumulating miles that you never be able to use.

Did you like what you read? Share the article with a friend and join us on Telegram and Facebook.

And don’t forget to check all the amazing travel deals at ShopBack that will take you to your favourite destination for less.

User Feedback