dimanche 22 novembre 2009

Petty Principles of Frequent Flying


Confessions of a Frequent Flier

One Pass Platinum Star Alliance AND

Air France Flying Blue Gold Skyteam

Obsession with small luxuries of International Travel

Just a couple of days ago I received news that I have made it to the Gold Level at the frequent flier programme Flying Blue of Air France. This gives you privileges of Skyteam Elite Plus, a good thing since Continental Airlines have left the Skyteam and joined the Star Alliance, which fortunately includes Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines, quite handy for my intended trips to the South East Asian destinations in 2010

As a frequent flier ( I have already clocked over 100 000 miles this year on CO), what are the little luxuries I have become addicted to?

A: separate line for checking in. It does not matter if the luggage does not come out first even if it is tagged Priority, but it is nice to see it among the first bags. But the pleasure of not queueing up is immense indeed..

B: A little bit room and a little privacy. CO regularly would leave the seat next to you free if the flight is not full. Of course CO tries to upgrade you to First Class whenever possible and now with its membership in Star Alliance I look forward to similar treatment at United Airlines?

C: Lounge Access

WiFi and a little bit of refreshments, quiet place to rest and check your email or speak to someone or other on the phone. Also if there is a cancellation or change of plans of your itinerary , the staff at the Lounges are far more attentive and helpful.

My favourite Airline Clubs which I use frequently

Air France/Terminal 2/Paris CDG

Delta Sky Club in Miami. Any President’s Club.

Occasional use clubs that I have enjoyed are : QF at LAX and in Australian capital cities; AF in JFK; Sakura in NRT, MH lounges in KL. Since my travels are predictable and around a certain circuit, I am happy if I can use airline lounges at the following cities:

KL SIN CDG BOM NYC MIA HAV….

D: An occasional glass of wine offered is welcome. Food is not a priority but space is. Privacy is appreciated, and on a recent flight within USA, the person sitting next to me, asked me, Do you believe in Jesus Christ? I just put on my ipod head phones and that was the end of that.

E: The wish list of Nationality of the person to sit next to you on long haul flights.. the most preferred without doubt The Japanese (silent and polite) and then Asian (except Taiwanese, Korean, Singaporeans and East Indians). Europeans (except Brits) tend to be more polite and less intrusive. Americans are a labour of love in time and patience. I shall not comment on AUS and ISR travelers since they are my people!

Recently I was asked a medical opinion on the fitness of a passenger to Brisbane from Miami. He was 385 lbs (175 kg, 28 stones), was flying Economy Class, Miami to JFK on American and then on to Narita on JAL and then on to BNE..

Before I gave my medical opinion ( I advised him against flying!) I was concerned about the welfare of the two Japanese who would be allotted the seats next to him on that long flight to NRT from JFK.

In USA, they would have to soon come to terms with the increasing girth of the passengers where they lead the world in individual obesity, and I wonder whether there would be ever fares based on your weight over and above 70 kg?

F: FF points. Not all FF programmes are created equal. Most USA based airlines give you miles for the miles flown but not most asian or European airlines, but they base it on the fare paid. AF may give only 25 % of the miles flown for most of the cheaper fares on transatlantic routes, but these exclude Business/First Class/Premium Economy fares.

I use my accumulated miles to get tickets to Asia, the best deal is from CO and its partners on business class travel to Asia.. 120 000 miles for a round trip ticket, or the same to Indian gateways with a stopover in Paris.

For example, my next free ticket is a round trip to Kuala Lumpur from Miami… JFK to SIN and on to KL on Singapore Air and the trip KL to BKK to Paris on Thai Airways and Paris to Miami via EWR on CO.

Flying Blue has promotions where you can get long haul tickets for 50% of the normal points, in business and economy classes. From Paris, business class tickets would be, if you can snatch a promotion, 30 000 one way to Havana and 45 000 one way to KL.

G: I shall end this missive with a wish, to see Jet Airways of India and Malaysian Airlines join either Star Alliance or Skyteam. I can enjoy the privileges on these partner airlines as well.. Let us hope so..

I am putting this on the blog in Paris, where I have arrived from Los Indios.. the JFK to CDG portion was a quick 6 hour flight on Air France.. enjoyed the flight, the details of which would be in my travel blog www.virtualtourist.com/m/26dab