Whether you are a frequent or infrequent flyer I can give you at least 10 reasons why you should join an airlines frequent flyer scheme.
1. Redeem Miles
As you know frequent flyer schemes allow you to accumulate miles with each flight you take. The great thing is that you can redeem these miles for free or reduced cost flights. In recent years you have to also pay the taxes associated with the flight, however you can often still get a cracking deal.
As well as flights you can of course upgrade your current ticket to a better class of travel. Go on, you know you want to treat yourself to Business Class.
That is not all, with a number of airlines you can also redeem miles for gifts. I recently did this with the Emirates scheme Skywards. It sure comes in handy for birthdays and Christmas if money is tight. It also makes rewards more accessible if you haven’t accrued many miles.
Don’t worry I’m not repeating myself from what I said above. I’m not talking about redeeming miles here, I’m talking of the best type of upgrade, the complimentary ones
As a holder of a few frequent flier cards I’ve benefited from this a few times. Most notably with KLM although I do fly with them often.
You don’t have to be a high ranking card holder to get this unexpected benefit. On probably only my fourth or fifth ever flight with KLM I was upgraded to Business Class on a flight from Amsterdam to California! I was still a novice at flying so at first I thought the whole plane for long haul flights was so comfortable. It was only on the flight back that I realised that I’d been upgraded.
I’ve received complimentary upgrades on long haul to Asia too as well as a few European flights. I have a little element of smugness when a plane has taken off and the stewardess comes up to me and says in front of everyone “Since you fly with us so often please avail yourself of the Business Class seats”
I’m not a person who goes begging for a free upgrade and I think airlines respect that. Getting an upgrade without asking for one is a real treat.
3. Luggage Tags
Every year when I’m issued with my latest frequent flyer card I often find two luggage tags included in the pack. These are great. You just fix one to your check in bag and one to your carry on. You don’t have to worry about getting those flimsy paper name tags they have at check in. You know the ones, you write your details down, attach it and before your journey is complete it has torn off so you have to find another one.
The frequent flier luggage tags are made of plastic so are often more durable. They’ll often have your name and frequent flier number pre-printed on the tag. In that way the airline can quickly match up your details and relocate you with your bag.
4. Free Checked Bag
We all know the airline industry has gone through a tough time this last decade. Some are charging for virtually everything now, especially the US based airlines.
When they first introduced these charges I dreaded the thought of them. I’d flown across the Atlantic Business Class and was now moving around the US on economy class (coach) flights.
The first time I went to check my bag I had my wallet at the ready. Yet the airline (a member of Star Alliance) recognised immediately my status with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer scheme. I was happy to be told that because I had a mid-tier status with a Star Alliance airline my checked bag was free. Happy days.
5. Lounge Access
You don’t have to be super rich or flying Business or First Class to be able to access airline lounges. Many schemes allow you to fly economy/coach and still use the lounges if you have a medium to high rank status with their frequent flyer scheme.
The rules vary by airline so always ask to make sure you know if you are eligible.
A few years ago, prior to merging with Air France, KLM used to allow high rank Flying Dutchman card holders to use their lounges, even if you weren’t flying KLM! I used to love this and used it from time to time if the lounge was better than the airline I was flying with.
I did once get into a lounge in the US without having the correct status card. I enquired at the counter if I qualified only to be told that no I didn’t. However the American lady on reception said that she’d let me in free anyway because she loved my (English) accent! Oh, the doors it can open
6. Dedicated Check-In Desks
Many airlines have dedicated check-in desks for higher ranking card holders. Some allow silver as well as gold equivalent status to use the Business of First Class check-in desks. This is a great way to beat standing around in queues when you just want to get on with things.
As an addition a number of airlines will also give priority boarding to higher ranked frequent flier card holders.
7. Recognition From Staff
Okay, this might not be a big deal for many of you but I think it is a nice touch. Often when I board a plane of an airline who’s frequent flyer scheme I’ve joined I’m greeted with “Welcome back” or “Nice to see you again”. There is some form of recognition or acknowledgement.
Whilst this is recognising loyalty it also adds a personal level of service. It makes me feel appreciated and that the staff recognise that (where possible) I have chosen to fly with them.
8. Seat Preferences
A range of frequent flier schemes allow you to record your profile details online. This can include meals preferences and indeed seat preferences. I admit it does not always work out my way but at least I’ve indicated to the airline if I prefer a window or aisle seat.
With many airlines now charging for seat selection it is nice to have some form of influence.
I noticed a further benefit whilst recently flying economy. I was due to fly with KLM and used one of those computerised check-in terminals. The system recognised my frequent flyer status and allowed me to change my pre-allocated seat free of charge. This meant that I was able to move to an emergency exit seat with extra leg room for no cost. If it was someone else then they would have pay a fee to change.
I’m not a fan of paying fees to change seats. Neither is anybody else from the look of things since I was the only person sat in an emergency exit seat for that particular flight.
9. Earn Points Elsewhere
You’ll need to check the scheme rules for this one as they can differ by each card. However it is something I look out for. If I’m using a hotel or maybe a car hire company I’ll often ask if I can earn frequent flyer miles when I spend money with them. You might be surprised at how many do offer this facility.
In addition, if you have a hotel loyalty card, such as with Marriott or Hilton you can pre-allocate to earn miles each time you stay at one of their hotels.
10. It Is In The Price
The last but by no means least of my 10 reasons why you should join an airlines frequent flyer scheme is pretty obvious. It is in the price anyway. You are paying for the miles and the scheme each time you buy a ticket from an airline with a scheme. If you don’t have a card and collect the miles then you are paying for something you are not getting. Better get value for money in my view.
So what do you think? Are you interested in my reasons and think you should join? Well I have even better news for you.
You can now buy my book on frequent flyer schemes from Amazon worldwide.
This book is currently only available on Kindle.
Update 13th October 2013 this is now a No. 1 Bestseller on Amazon.com Travel -Reference section.
Don’t have a kindle then don’t worry. You can get a free kindle reading app from your app store for your smart phone, tablet or PC.
In my book I explain
- the history of frequent flyer schemes
- how they work
- why they are FREE to join
- how you can earn points without ever flying
- how you can redeem airlines for things other than flights
- which airline scheme/s you should join and why
- plus much, much more
So there you have it. What are the reasons why you join frequent flyer schemes? Can you think of an eleventh reason?
I can think of 10 reasons why you should join an airlines frequent flyer scheme and it has me convinced.