If you haven’t already read the Introduction to International Milenomics, that would be a good place to start.
The basics of that post: Milenomics has two ways to approach international award travel, by selecting a specific destination, or by selecting a specific program. Deciding which way to start out is important. Today we’ll use a few examples to illustrate the importance (and limitations) of alliance and partners.
Example #1: Travel to Rome
Let’s say you’ve picked a city, you want to Visit Rome. We’ll examine each of the major alliances, and see which one or more is the “best” for travel to Rome.
Route Maps: Milenomics is all about Route Maps. As you can see there are plenty of ways to get to Rome in all three alliances. There are probably hundreds of flights to Rome using 1 or 2 stops.
As you can see Rome is a pretty easy place to get to. There are hundreds of connections that could get you to Rome, in any alliance. In this type of a situation it we should check out www.milez.biz and see how many miles each program will charge us:
AA has off-peak 40,000 mile awards in coach, other than that US, UA and AA all have similar pricing for this trip. At this point I’d figure out if you want to fly coach/business/first, and how many seats you need. Also check to see who has the most direct flights from your home airport. And finally, focus on earning miles the cheapest and quickest way possible. Once you hit your goal go ahead and book.
A note: Delta has said that starting June 1, 2014 the cost of a business class ticket to Europe would go from 100,000 to 125,000. Keep that in mind if your dates are far in advance. While it is nice they gave almost a year’s notice, devaluations can happen overnight as well. Milenomics uses DL miles for domestic travel, so this isn’t a huge concern for the purpose of this post, but I wanted to include it to be thorough. I will not continue to discuss DL for international travel for the remainder of this post.
Example #2 Hong Kong:
Again all three major alliances have good availibilty to HKG. When you look at the mileage needed however, a different picture appears:
As you can see above AA Charges the most for a Coach seat, and US charges the least. In Fact the difference between the lowest Business class (90k, US) and the highest coach (70K, AA) is only 20k miles. HKG is best served with US miles, In this case you’d start earning those and look to spend them once you reach the miles you need for all your passengers.
The above two examples show how picking a specific City can save you miles, and let you pick exactly the cheapest way (in miles and money) to get there. If you had picked a program instead, and then wanted to go to HKG you’d have wasted miles if you were collecting AA miles for example.
For Milenomics purposes these are really basic examples. As we continue through the week we’ll be getting into more realistic, and complex, examples of cities we’ll be choosing. I’ll be using some examples from your entries in the first Milenomics Blog Giveaway for these posts.
Pick a Program: Example #1
Let’s say you’re collecting AA miles, you fly them a lot, and have a credit card or two that also earns AA miles. Using Milenomics Mileage Runs you’ve churned your way to a few hundred thousand miles. Now you’re ready to use them. Let’s also assume you’ve decided to go to Africa with those miles.
In the route maps above do you see how Oneworld has very few routes to Africa, and Star Alliance and Skyteam have more? If you’re looking to go to Africa with Miles, Oneworld is a terrible option. Not only are there less partners, and less flights, but those flights are on British Airways, and will incurr high fees of $300+ one way. By picking a program and then picking a specific city you’ve locked yourself in–you either need to change cities, or pay these high fees. If you had picked Africa as a destination and done our route comparisons first you woulod have steered away from AA and to a *A program like UA and US.
However, if you’re flexible and just want to use your miles to go somewhere this isn’t an issue. Instead use your AA miles for an excellent trip to Europe, or South America. You could also travel to Asia with them, but know you may be spending more miles to do so. The benefit of choosing a program is that you’ve focused your earning in one program, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find flights somewhere on a preferred date. If you have an inflexible work schedule, and must take certain times of the year off (especially higher travel periods) picking a program, and not a specific destination will let you use your miles.
You’ve come to the end of this part of the story. The decision which way you continue is up to you…
Choose Your Adventure:[rule]IF you choose Oneworld, and want to learn more about earning and using AA miles for travel to Asia, Europe (while avoiding BA flights), South America and the South Pacific.Click here[rule]If you Choose Star Alliance, and want to learn more about earning and using UA and US miles for travel to Asia, Europe and Africa. Click Here[rule]
– Written by Sam Simon. All ideas are my own, but I encourage you to see my point of view and I promise I’ll try to do the same. Connect with me on Twitter @Milenomics.