Frequent Flyer

In Germany this weekend, and to be honest I find it quite dull. The weekends aren’t that much fun despite good friends being nice to me. I suppose it is to do with home being where the heart is.

This coming week I have a little traveling to do, and this, and having recently seen “Up In The Air” got me thinking about Mileage Programs for airlines. Without going into too much detail, when you fly a lot you gain ‘status’ with the airline. There are different levels of this, normally defined as Silver, Gold and Gold Elite. Generally silver gives you privileges with the airline with who you hold the mileage account. Miles can be earned normally with the ‘alliance’ of airlines who club together to allow their reach and value to therefore increase. Silver Privileges are usually use of the Business Class check in regardless of ticket class, and use of the Business Class Lounge. It means that in general you can move through the airport more smoothly, board first (if you like) and not have to queue. Worth it if you fly a lot in economy. This is the card that I have with Lufthansa and is great flying backwards and forwards to Germany. If I am delayed, a free drink and a bite to eat does compensate a little.

The next level up is ‘Gold’. To get Gold on my flying schedule with Lufthansa I would need to fly about twice as much as I do. The alternative way to earn more miles is to fly in a different class. Business Class flights attract generally twice as many miles as (non discounted) Economy, and First Class attract three times the number. It takes me 9 months generally to ‘achieve’ silver.

Because ‘the majority’ of Gold card holders are flying business fares, then their rewards are also better. They get access to the First Class Lounges (I am told resemble restaurants and spa resorts – some with swimming pools!), First Class Check in and ‘upgrades vouchers’. Gold Elites are like royalty for the airlines. Limos to take you to the aeroplane instead of the bus etc, etc.

For Gold card holders there is another advantage too. When you are flying with an alliance airline, you get to use their business class lounge regardless of the class flown.

All of this relates only to status miles. Most programmes also give you purchase power with your miles that is separate from this. These are usually spent on free flights (although I used mine to get myself a nice watch last year).

My situation is this. My silver status with Lufthansa has been renewed once, meaning I have two years of status with them. It means that I have the use of their lounges, but can collect towards a different scheme. Having seen the film ‘Up In The Air’ it got me thinking about this.

Now, I don’t want people to think that this is something with which I am obsessed. However, when in Taiwan or The States, the use of a lounge when not flying with Lufthansa will save me money and hassle. If I can get that with minimal ‘work’ then great. So I have researched a little and found a different airline, that may be a better bet, without changing who I fly with.

What this post is about though is the world that I have unearthed as part of this research. There are forums, and experts, information and tables comparing everything. What I also discovered takes it all one step further. A group of people, who have made it their passion. They fly or the sake of flying. The lounges are the destinations and the status and upgrades not a by-product as they are for most business travellers, but the exercise themselves. There are things called Mileage Runs, designed to maximise and bolster the account. It comes as a bit of a revelation to me.

Click on the link below to be confronted with something you’ve never thought of.

Frequent Flyer from Gabriel Leigh on Vimeo.

Right… who is with me on a LHR, FRA, BKK, TPE, BKK, FRA, LHR run?


One response to “Frequent Flyer

  1. Great post! Very informative. I also saw the movie Up in the Air. Really enjoyed it. Also thought of you!

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