Practical advice: Avoid this mileage risk when flying with partner airlines
TPG reader Cindy Thomas recently flew round-trip from Boston to London Heathrow Airport (LHR). She booked the trip through the American Airlines website, but the flights were on an American Airlines plane. Oneworld Alliance partner, Airline British.
As a Platinum Pro member on American, Thomas was hoping to earn Advantages miles for her transatlantic trip – and she earned them on her flight abroad.
However, when checking in for the return flight, Thomas decided to add her in Airline British Club operator number for her reservation.
Unfortunately, she was disappointed to see that she had earned British Aviation Avios – not AAdvantage miles – for the return trip.
As international travel increases again in 2022, there are even more opportunities to fly with your favorite airline’s international partner when traveling abroad. Of course, foreign flights are a great opportunity to accumulate miles and advance to the next level of elite status.
However, as Thomas discovered, when you fly with partner airlines, you’ll want to be careful about securing your mileage. be credited where you want.
Tip: Be careful with the loyalty number you add to your codeshare booking
When flying on a partner airline through a codeshare agreement, you will always want to consider which loyalty program you want to earn miles.
While the loyalty money earned from international airline programs can be valuable and help you book future travel, in many cases you can want to credit only the miles earned to the loyalty program you use most often.
For example, Delta SkyMiles loyal members may find better itineraries on Delta’s SkyTeam partner, Air France. United MileagePlus members can find better rates on flights to Toronto or Montreal on United’s Star Alliance partner airline, Air Canada. But if travelers only use those partner airlines infrequently, they may just want to credit the miles they earn to their SkyMiles or MileagePlus account.
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In Thomas’s case — like many other travelers — the miles she earns on international travel will benefit her more when combined with all of her other AAdvantage earnings. because she flies to America more often. Additionally, a foreign flight credited to her AAdvantage account can help her progress towards Executive Platinum status.
Book a partner flight through a domestic airline
Let’s say you’re looking to book a flight on American Airlines from New York to London. You choose your itinerary and find that the flights are operated by British Airways.
At checkout, when you enter your information, you will have the opportunity to choose your loyalty program.
It may default to the program of the airline website you are visiting (in this case, the US AAdvantage program) but you can choose from a range of US Oneworld partners — as well as other partners. other non-alliance partners, such as Etihad’s loyalty program.
Whichever airline you choose will be your mileage earnings, so if you want to earn AAdvantage miles, you’ll want to choose AAdvantage. There’s no need to add your British Airways Executive Club number to your booking unless you want to earn Avios.
The story is similar when booking a United Airlines flight from Washington, DC, to Frankfurt operated by Star Alliance partner Lufthansa.
Likewise, if you are trying to accumulate MileagePlus miles to move forward Premium status, you’ll want to choose United MileagePlus when booking. If you click on Lufthansa Miles and more, you’ll earn miles with the Germany-based carrier loyalty program.
Booking via partner website
You can also earn miles in the loyalty program of your choice when you book through a partner carrier’s website, as long as there is cooperation in place.
Let’s say you’re a Delta SkyMiles member who wants to travel from Boston to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG). You can find your preferred flight on the Air France website.
After you’ve selected your itinerary and checkout, you’ll want to click “I want to add frequent flyers.”
There you can scroll down and click on “SkyMiles.” This way you will be able to earn Delta SkyMiles and progress to Delta elite status, while taking advantage of the reciprocal SkyPriority benefits.
It’s a similar process when you book codeshare flights on domestic airline partners and there are many. For example, American and Alaska Airlines are both members of the Oneworld alliance.
When flying on partner airlines, you should consider which program you want to accumulate loyalty currency. If you don’t want to achieve elite status with either airline or don’t care how many miles you’ll earn, you can sign up for value of miles to help you decide.
However, at the end of the day, you’ll want to choose a loyalty currency that you’re most likely to use. So when you book and check in, make sure the loyalty number you choose is attached to your booking. And don’t change the number unless you want to redirect your earnings to another program.