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AmyLondon

Best way to build air miles as a family

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Hi all

I am due to make the move to Australia in October and currently looking at the best ways to maximise our money on flights/ build airline points as my partner and I and my Mum and Dad will be flying to and from Aus as much as we can to see one another. 

Does anyone have any tips/ guidance as to how you do it?

 

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From a UK POV: 

It generally involves sticking to one ‘alliance’. Consider British Airways Executive Club and Tesco Clubcard points, you can also get bonus points through specialist credit cards. 

 Qatar & Qantas (+ other oneworld airline) points can then be credited to your account. 

From an Aus PoV

Qantas + Woolworths would be a good option. You can also purchase ‘Qantas Club’ membership to get lounge access on your regular trips. 

 

 

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13 minutes ago, CaptainR said:

From a UK POV: 

It generally involves sticking to one ‘alliance’. Consider British Airways Executive Club and Tesco Clubcard points, you can also get bonus points through specialist credit cards. 

 Qatar & Qantas (+ other oneworld airline) points can then be credited to your account. 

From an Aus PoV

Qantas + Woolworths would be a good option. You can also purchase ‘Qantas Club’ membership to get lounge access on your regular trips. 

 

 

Thank you for your response. 

When you say "alliance" you mean Oneworld vs the Star Alliance or others?

So from a UK PoV, you would recommend joining the BA Exec club, using Clubcard points and then building additional points with cards such as the Gold Amex?

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Posted (edited)

Amy, the first thing to do is to calculate whether you'll be collecting enough miles to make it worthwhile. All prices are in AUD

  • A round trip Sydney London ticket is roughly $1,300 on sale, earning around 10,000-15,000 redeemable miles per ticket
  • A similar round trip when flying using miles will cost 90,000-120,000 miles not including the airline fees/taxes.
  • Assuming you use a mileage program that allows family pooling like Avios (possibly Qantas, have to check), you'll need maybe 8 paid trips to earn 1 "free" trip.
  • "Free" here is misleading as Avios charges about $800-900 in fees for a round trip, you're basically saving around $300-400 only
  • Many frequent flyer programs don't have family pooling and their fees aren't significantly cheaper for flights from Australia to the UK
  • The point already made about OneWorld/Star Alliance is definitely valid

So what's the alternative? If you're not flying enough and don't want to bother with miles expiring/devaluing etc, I suggest going with a good cashback card.

Do some research on the airline fees, login to your BA Exec club account and plug in some dates.

Also, a few airlines, particularly British Airways have incredibly high fees, Qantas and Cathay Pacific are less. Some frequent flyer programs eg. AAdvantage seems to have lower fees than others too. You could fly on BA or Qantas and still park your flown miles under AAdvantage as part of OneWorld but without family pooling it may get pretty frustrating

 

Edited by gameover98
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Also worth exploring how difficult it is to actually use air miles for each airline when travelling between UK and Australia. Qualifying seats can be very hard to find if you have specific dates or length of stay when booking. With BA you need to look for ‘Reward Flights’, which can be very limited on this route.

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8 hours ago, AmyLondon said:

I am due to make the move to Australia in October and currently looking at the best ways to maximise our money on flights/ build airline points as my partner and I and my Mum and Dad will be flying to and from Aus as much as we can to see one another. 

I doubt you'll earn enough points to make it worth the effort.  The schemes vary, but in general, you need to do 8-10 flights before you'll have enough points to get ONE free flight on that sector.  Also you should check the fees and charges, airport taxes etc - the free flight is never free, and you may not save as much as you think, compared to booking a discount flight.

Let's say you go home one year and your parents come out to visit on the alternate year.  Assuming you've chosen a scheme that allows family pooling, that's four or five years before you get even one free flight - always assuming the points haven't expired in the meantime. 

Then, as SusieRoo says, there's the challenge of getting a seat.  My sister and my niece both fly back and forth to the US for work.  They have squillions of reward points and struggle to use them, because the free seats are always so limited.  

As for credit cards:  with most cards you'll get one point for every pound spent, and you'll need over 100,000 points to get a reward flight to Australia. So that means you'll need to spend $100,000 before you get even one flight for one person. 

If you're going to use a credit card or store card anyway, then you might think, "I might as well use one that offers airline points" - but it's been shown that it creates a strong temptation to spend money on stuff you don't need, because you want the points.   That's why stores like Tesco offer them.  Whereas if you cut up the credit cards and buy only what you need, you'll save the money for the flights faster than you could get them through points. 


Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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The last 2 times our in laws have visited us in Aus, they paid for standard flights and used their air miles to upgrade to business class , giving them a more enjoyable flight and door to door service. Maybe something to think about if your going to have the points anyway.

Cal x

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5 hours ago, Marisawright said:

I doubt you'll earn enough points to make it worth the effort.  The schemes vary, but in general, you need to do 8-10 flights before you'll have enough points to get ONE free flight on that sector.  Also you should check the fees and charges, airport taxes etc - the free flight is never free, and you may not save as much as you think, compared to booking a discount flight.

Let's say you go home one year and your parents come out to visit on the alternate year.  Assuming you've chosen a scheme that allows family pooling, that's four or five years before you get even one free flight - always assuming the points haven't expired in the meantime. 

Then, as SusieRoo says, there's the challenge of getting a seat.  My sister and my niece both fly back and forth to the US for work.  They have squillions of reward points and struggle to use them, because the free seats are always so limited.  

As for credit cards:  with most cards you'll get one point for every pound spent, and you'll need over 100,000 points to get a reward flight to Australia. So that means you'll need to spend $100,000 before you get even one flight for one person. 

If you're going to use a credit card or store card anyway, then you might think, "I might as well use one that offers airline points" - but it's been shown that it creates a strong temptation to spend money on stuff you don't need, because you want the points.   That's why stores like Tesco offer them.  Whereas if you cut up the credit cards and buy only what you need, you'll save the money for the flights faster than you could get them through points. 

However, you can also earn anything from 60,000 to 80,000 points as an introductory offer with a credit card (i.e. by spending $3000 within the first few months). We change credit card every 11 months to take advantage of the points offers and also to ensure we don't get stung with an annual fee on renewal. 

We are planning a round the world trip in around 3-4 years time and will be using miles for that. 

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14 hours ago, AmyLondon said:

Thank you for your response. 

When you say "alliance" you mean Oneworld vs the Star Alliance or others?

So from a UK PoV, you would recommend joining the BA Exec club, using Clubcard points and then building additional points with cards such as the Gold Amex?

Yes that's the way to do it, although if you plan to be living in Australia it might be worthwhile focusing all of your efforts on building points with Qantas. There are entire forums dedicated to earnings points. 
 There are a few renowned 'mummy' bloggers who have cleverly levered first class flights with BA on the back of tesco club card offers. 

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There is also the advantage of gaining status on airlines. My aunt flies Qatar consistently 2-3 times a year to London, and she's able to move up to Silver/Gold. She gets preferred seats on Qatar, access to the business class lounges and benefits on other OneWorld airlines too.

You and your family may not earn enough miles to get free flights, but you may find the journey a bit less stressful. Combine this with a decent cashback card to stack some additional benefits.

 

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Thanks all, much appreciated.

Very aware of the myth of "free" flights but planning to build the points to potentially upgrade/ use lounges etc.

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If you are looking to earn points in Australia, I would recommend looking at Virgin Australia Velocity rather than Qantas as their redemption surcharges are much lower than Qantas and they partner with Singapore Airlines which usually has quite good redemption availability. 

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It is possible to save enough points for flights. I have gathered enough points from Flybuys and a small amount of flying with VA to get myself redemption flights from Melbourne to Ashgabat and Tashkent to Melbourne in a mixture of first and business class. But, that is only possible by booking the flights some way ahead, travelling solo, being willing to be flexible on dates/routes/carriers, and a fair amount of creativity and persuasion along the way. Redemptions can offer excellent value in premium classes but tend to offer poor value in economy. And note that QF offers very little availability in premium cabins except for their gold and platinum members. Also note that BA offers some of the worst value redemptions, especially on long haul routes. 

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