Book flights using airmiles
You must know the story of Ryan Bingham, the downsizing manager who aims to reach 10 million miles and continue living his life of travel, airports, hotels and car rentals?
“ Tell me about airmiles. I want to collect as many as possible.” Extract from the film Up In The Air.
It appears that Ryan Bingham has understood all the advantages of airmiles. Are you a frequent flyer? Airmiles present a number of advantages which can allow to you travel at a reduced cost.
Here is some advice and top tips to help you manage your airmiles and benefit from their full potential.
To start, you need to understand what airmiles are and how they work.
Do airmiles expire on a certain date?
This is an important element to take into account when managing your airmiles because you could be in for a nasty surprise: as is the case with many loyalty programmes, airmiles can expire. They generally have a lifetime of two years, but this depends on the airline company.
But there is a “simple” way to avoid your airmiles from expiring.
How can you keep your airmiles?
By spending them. By buying an airline ticket at least once every two years or spending using a partner bank card allowing you to accumulate airmiles, you can extend their validity. Take the example of Air France KLM and its Flying Blue loyalty scheme. Customers who hold a Silver, Gold or Platinum loyalty card only need to buy something once every two years with their card, and it can be anything from partner stores or airline companies, to extend the validity of the airmiles by two years! The countdown is reset from the date of the sale.
How can airmiles be used?
This is a good question: why should you collect airmiles? The answer is simple: because you travel and tickets are either paid for or need to be paid for. Why not kill two birds with one stone and collect points - airmiles - for every euro you spend on flights for your own pleasure? The airline company loyalty scheme follows the same principle as a supermarket loyalty programme. The points you collect during your weekly shop can lead to different rewards: reductions, cash back, etc. It’s the same thing with airmiles; they are valid in different situations. Here are some ideas of how to use your airmiles.
The first way you can use your airmiles is of course to choose a flight and a destination depending on the number of airmiles on your client account. These are called Prime airline tickets. This is the case for Air France KLM, your Flying blue airmiles can be used to book a flight at a reduced price to countries around the world. Flying Blue miles are valid for tickets purchase with Air France, KLM, or any other airline company which is a member of the SkyTeam alliance.
Remember: when you become a customer of an airline company and join their loyalty programme, you are automatically a member of the alliance the airline belongs to. You therefore benefit from the services of all the member companies in the alliance and the airmiles collected in the loyalty programme of one airline can be used for services in other member companies. This is the aim of these alliances: to create a shared loyalty programme and offer you a wider range of destinations and cheaper journeys. There are three main airline company alliances in the world:
- Star Alliance: Air Canada, Air China, Lufthansa, Swiss Air Lines, EVA Air etc.
- SkyTeam: Air France, KLM, Delta Airlines, China Eastern Airlines etc.
- Oneworld: American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, etc.
Calculating the number of miles for a flight takes into account several criteria: the distance between the departure airport and the arrival airport, the class of reservation (economy, business or first) and the various options that can be added to your basket.
Short-haul flight – internal flights for example – these amount to at least 10,000 airmiles; for long-haul flights, they go up to 140,000 airmiles.
For example, you could go to:
- Europe or France for 10,00–15,000 airmiles;
- Dubai, the Antilles and North Africa for 20,000–50,000 airmiles;
- North America, Latin America, Africa, Shanghai, Beijing, Tahiti, Tokyo and other destinations for 50,000–140,000 airmiles.
Flights reserved using airmiles are never 100% free. Taxes and surcharges cannot be paid with Flying Blue airmiles, and the traveller has to pay them when they book.
Top tip: keep an eye on the Flying Blue promo flights to get up to 50% off certain prime tickets.
You can also use your airmiles by opting for key options for optimal comfort on board:
- Seats at the emergency exits for more legroom
- A la carte menu (drinks, food)
- Extra carry-on or hold baggage
The second use of airmiles is with partner airline companies. Use airmiles to pay for hotels, rent a car, take a week’s break in a partner hotel of the airline companies, treat yourself to products in the airline alliance store of which you are a member, which is the Flying Blue Store if SkyTeam is the airline company alliance you choose.
You can even donate your airmiles to partner charities (the French Red Cross, Enfants de la Terre, Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque etc.).
You can also transfer your airmiles into a gift voucher and offer them at different times of the year (Christmas, birthdays, etc.). Lufthansa offers this type of transaction with its Miles & More programme: for x euros you can send y Miles & More to a person of your choice and even send an accompanying e-card message.
In terms of logistics: airmiles are collected on your airline company customer account. To book airline tickets, you can pay directly with airmiles when you make the booking by clicking on the tab marked “use your airmiles”. Using available airmiles for services such as upgrading depends on the terms and conditions: the airline company chosen must be eligible for airmiles and the upgrade can be made up to 48 hours before the flight, depending on the availability of places. You can also upgrade on the day of boarding, by going to the check-in desk to ask about availability with the airline staff.
How can you collect airmiles?
You can collect airmiles with each airline ticket you book, and this is how to earn the most airmiles. The system of calculating the number of airmiles associated with the distance travelled depends on the airline company’s loyalty programme.
In terms of logistics: the airmiles associated with each flight booking are credited to your customer account after your ticket is checked when boarding and when you present your customer loyalty card number or customer account. The airmiles are visible 24 hours after the flight.
But airmiles can be collected in other ways. Other expenses include:
- Day-to-day expenses with partner bank cards which are eligible for collecting airmiles: fuel, supermarket, supplies, etc. This works when your credit card is a partner of the airline loyalty programme. If this is the case, when it comes to buying things, use this credit card as much as possible to collect airmiles! When you have to pay anyway, why not collect advantages in return?
- Hotel reservations with Accor, Holiday Inn, Starwood and other hotels which form the partner network covered by the airline company of which you are a client;
- Car hire with partner companies.
But spending money on airline tickets always gives you more airmiles. Remember to pay attention to:
- Special offers on flight ticket: remember to look for various special offers where you can earn airmiles. These offers are often communicated through the airline company’s newsletters;
- Purchases made in airline alliance stores either on their site or in-store can also earn airmiles.
If you are a frequent flyer and travel for business, holidays or exploring, you can reap rewards. Your airmiles are an opportunity to travel more – further, higher, and cheaper!