web Musings of The Global Traveller

Friday, October 02, 2009

Frequent Flyer Friday #6

Celebrating Friday with a short interview with a frequent flyer.


Keith is a Laws and Political Science student at University of Melbourne. He loves to travel in style.

First, some questions to see what kind of frequent flyer Keith is.

What is your home airport?
Keith - Melbourne Tullamarine, Victoria, Australia (MEL)

What is the airline you usually fly?
Keith - Over the past few years I have split my flights almost equally between Qantas and Singapore Airlines.

Which of the following best describes your flying pattern?
- infrequent (eg annual) leisure trip
× jetsetting for pleasure
- frequent (eg monthly) business travel
- road warrior
- mileage runner
- I live on planes

How do you mostly earn your frequent flyer miles?
- promos
× credit card spend
- business and leisure travel
× taking extra flights on trips I need to take
- mileage running

Please describe how you travel in 4 words.
Keith - floating on champagne fumes

That sounds extravagant and delightfully indulgent. How do you manage to do this as a student?
Keith - Carpe diem. I seize on any and every opportunity to earn mileage and structure my expenses accordingly. I write down my travel goals, and work out a flexible plan to attain this. The various travel boards such as Flyer Talk, SQ Talk and Australian Frequent Flyer have been invaluable with many tips and tricks to achieve the optimum ratio of frequent flyer mileage accrual and redemption.

Through a combination of luck, some forward planning, and wisdom shared by others on those boards, I've even been able to snag Singapore Airlines A380 suites on awards.

[Editor's note - Singapore Airlines has a policy of no first class awards on A380 and 77W aircraft (their premium first class products). However, you can get them by being savvy - booking a first class award on 747 aircraft before the flight gets switched to A380 or 77W.]

Now for some travel advice from Keith.

What is inside your carry-on bag right now?
Keith - I am carrying a Yoshida Porter tote for a day trip to Canberra tomorrow. Inside the bag is a Sony Vaio notebook, my travel documents including boarding passes from online check in, my wallet, a tub of American Crew foaming cream, Dior Homme Sport deodourant stick, travel size F by Ferragamo fragrance, travel size Bliss foaming facewash, Ultraceuticals lip balm with SPF 30 protection, and a pair of Calibre sunnies.

Contents vary according to the duration of the trip really. Choices of fragrance and sunnies are mood dependent. Obviously a change of clothes on international trips. I'd also usually take a camera (simple point and shoot) along but it was left onboard an Asiana flight in July and I've yet to replace it.

Please give a tip on travel.
Keith - One can meet some of the most interesting people in the world on planes. Whilst I've yet to sit next to a celebrity, I have met some truly amazing people who have added colour to my travels - some of whom I still keep in contact. Get to know your seat mate, you might be surprised. At the very least, it might be a good networking opportunity.

What is your preferred airline for regular travel, and why?
Keith - Singapore Airlines for the extensive international network, especially throughout Asia and Europe, and general ease of redemption availability (until more and more routes get taken over by the A380 and 77W). Qantas for the good domestic network, great international partners, and all round excellent service.

What is your preferred airline for a special trip, and why?
Keith - Qantas. They have never failed to make each flight of mine a memorable one. The service on Qantas is the style of service I am most comfortable with, and their cabin crew always go that one step further to make pax feel special. The all-Australian wine list on Qantas almost always feature my favourite drops. Not to mention there isn't a better homecoming than seeing the red roo when departing from some random overseas location!

What is your preferred frequent flyer program, and why?
Keith - It depends.

BMI's diamond club, for the ease of earning and redeeming miles. Awards are fantastic value and flexible. The Cash and Miles option makes the mileage bank stretch that bit further.

AAdvantage has also been great value in terms of award redemptions on oneworld carriers, especially when miles are earned and redeemed in premium cabins.

In terms of status benefits, it is hard to go wrong with Qantas Frequent Flyer for the ease of earning status, and the bells and whistles you get when flying Qantas which is why I have decided to switch all my oneworld earning from AAdvantage to Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Please give a tip on frequent flyer programs.
Keith - There is no such thing as the perfect frequent flyer program. Examine your personal circumstances, needs and desires. Whilst advice from travel boards may help, you know your own situation best. Do not be afraid to look beyond the program of your usual airline your choice for value, as its partners might offer some very good deals. By the same token, the best status benefits are usually the ones offered by the airline you fly most regularly with so stick to them if you want all the bells and whistles. If you practically live on planes, don't be afraid to mix and match to achieve the best balance between value (mileage earning & awards) and status benefits.

Thanks Keith for your advice and information about finding an affordable way to fly in style on some top airlines. Have a great weekend.

For other frequent flyer friday posts please check out the index. If you have any questions you'd like answered, or wish to nominate someone for an interview, please drop me a line using the please use the contact me link. For all sorts of reasons I can't make any guarantees, but if you're interested chances are others are too and so we'll get some good interviews.

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