People think travel is too expensive to do often and aren’t committed to making their dreams happen. Most people don’t take action. If you are looking to make your travel dream a reality and want to take action, then go through this blog, as it will detail everything that you need to know on how you can start accumulating miles and make your dream holiday a reality. Start saving TODAY for that holiday you have always been dreaming of. We will also decode the classic myth which states that you can accumulate miles only if you fly. This will be your tutorial on accumulating miles by doing nothing different than what you have been doing and still get free flights, hotels, tours, and more.
When did this all start?
In the year 1979, Texas International Airlines created the first frequent-flyer program that used mileage tracking to give ‘rewards’ to its passengers. The move was derived with the aim to foster a sense of loyalty among their clients and reward them with airline miles that can be redeemed later. Since then, frequent-flyer programs have grown enormously. As of January 2005, a total of 14 trillion frequent-flyer points had been accumulated by people worldwide, which corresponds to a total value of 700 billion US dollars. (I couldn’t get the latest statistical data, therefore the data above seems a little outdated). The programs initially started to keep a
customer’s loyalty by giving away miles for the miles you fly. It was roughly the same miles you fly. So if you flew 500 miles, you earned 500 and so on. These miles, apart from being of great interest to collectors, could be used to book tickets/get upgrades.Now things have changed vastly. The miles don’t usually equate to the distances but are more about the money you spent.
To help you understand this better, let me take you through some important FAQ’s to break some myths, you may have had about the FFP.
What is FFP?
Frequent-Flyer Programs are designed by airlines to encourage customers to patronise their airline and in return, they accumulate points/miles (also called miles, kilometres or segments) which may then be redeemed for air travel or other rewards. Points earned under FFPs may be based on the class of fare, distance flown on that airline or its partners, or the amount paid.
Frequent-flyer programs can be seen as a certain type of virtual currency, one with unidirectional flow of money to purchase points, but no exchange back into money. With the introduction of airline alliances and code-share flights, frequent-flyer programs are often extended to allow benefits to be used across partner airlines.
What are the benefits of FFP?
Being an avid traveller myself, being at the airport for me is like you are at your workplace. I see hordes of people travelling across the country and the world, however, it baffles me, as to how few people are aware or even know, what an FFP is all about. To define the benefits of having a FFP is limitless and the ease with which you can own one is as easy as ABC.
Picture this: You arrive at the airport early in the morning all groggy and sleepy, and the only common site you will see, in long queues at check in counter. With a wait time of minimum 30-45 mins, you resign to the inevitable fact. As you look around, you look in envy at the sign board that says PRIORITY and RESERVED FOR PRIVILEGED MEMBERSHIP. While it may seem easy to presume, that access to this line is limited to the fools who coughed up double of what you may have paid to travel in premium class and console yourself with the fact that you paid much lesser, when in reality, that same person, could just be, the person sitting exactly right next you in the cattle class (economy 😂), but availed of a service that was rightly due to him, for the patronage he had shown over the years, which could have been yours, but for your ignorance.
This is only the beginning of the benefits associated with FFP and I have only just started.
Some of the most attractive benefits of the FFP (subject to Tier Status and/or class of booking)
- Dedicated Check-in
- Priority Baggage Tagging
- Additional Baggage Allowance
- Lounge Access
- Miles Earning Structure
- Cancellation and Change Fees
- Redeeming Miles for Free Flights
- Priority Upgrade
- Upgrade Vouchers
- Including Family in the program
- Priority boarding at the aircraft.
- Waiver on Seat Blocking Charges
To illustrate, for reference purpose, Jet Airways FFP starts at the entry-level which is called Jet Blue, followed by Blue Plus, Silver, Gold and the highest being Platinum.
For a detailed list of benefits and understanding on the benefit, you may refer here JetPrivilege Benefits and Privileges
How do I maximize benefits out of my FFP?
Get the most out of your business trips:
A booming economy made India one of the fastest growing and most competitive aviation markets in the world
You might be lucky enough to have a job that allows you to travel, but if you haven’t been adding your FF number on it, then you’re going to kick yourself if you see the illustrations to follow. Adding a frequent flyer number to your airline booking may just entitle you to a free to a ticket to a domestic destination (at the bare minimum).
Some smart ones, quickly realised that they could start accumulating miles against their business travel to be used for future travels for themselves, friends or even family. Irrespective of whether you travel for business or leisure, so long as the airline you are
flying has a FFP, you must sign up to ensure that you accumulate the miles. With many new alliances being signed up, you never know if your existing miles can be redeemed against partner airlines.
Decoding the myth: You don’t always need to fly to earn miles.
Earn miles without even flying: There are a variety of ways to earn miles, like simply booking your ticket on the airline’s website, subscribing to partner cards, spending on the cards, staying at hotels, subscribing to papers and magazines, and hundreds more, literally.
There are other ways to earn points. For example, in recent years, more points have been earned by using co-branded credit and debit cards than by air travel. Another way to earn points is spending money at associated retail outlets, car hire companies, hotels or other associated businesses.
Interesting articles that may be of interest here are
Earn Miles by paying for your monthly utilities
An average Indian household, spends at least 10,000 on utilities. If you make all those payments via your co-branded credit card, you stand to gain miles for every penny spent.
Initiate a simple standing instruction on your credit card to make utility bill payments.
To Illustrate further, I am going to assume that you spend close to 5 lacs per annum on food, clothing, fuel, groceries, entertainment, travel, etc.
The Illustration will show you, that based on your existing spends itself, you have already qualified for 32000 JP miles that equate to 3 Award tickets.
For a more detailed understanding, you may visit the link here
Diversify your choice
It is easy to look at this list of cards and programs and find it entirely overwhelming. After all, each program has its own unique redemption rules and rates, and it can be difficult to know which program is best for your situation. It’s never wise to put all of your eggs into one basket, even when it comes to airline miles. If you want to ensure you’ll have the miles you need to travel when and where you want, it might be wise to start racking up miles with several airlines that operate in your area. You can even choose one that seems like a good fit for domestic travel and another for international flights. The more miles you have, the more likely you will be able to use them.
Get your spouse involved
What’s better than one person earning miles? Two, of course! If you want to boost your miles balance enough to travel often or purchase multiple tickets, it makes sense to get your spouse or significant other involved. Doing so will essentially double any points you manage to earn and make it that much easier to book the award flights you’re after.
JetPrivilege has JetMyFamily+: a novel program enhancement that allows you to pool in JPMiles accumulated by you and your nominated family members and redeem them for Award Flights to destinations of your choice. For more details, click here
Travelled and accumulated miles, but falling short of a few miles? Not to worry at all, many or all FFPs give you the option of purchasing additional miles, incase you are falling short. JetPrivilege allows you to top up your account by buying JPMiles at just INR 1.25 per JPMile. This is always cheaper than purchasing an all new ticket as you buy only the amount of miles required to qualify for a reward ticket, rather than buying a ticket in itself. Whats more is that you qualify for Bonus miles, incase you purchase miles over a certain limit. Currently on a purchase of 5000 JPMiles or more in a single transaction between 18th – 30th April 2017, JetPrivelege is offering up to 40% Bonus.
Most FFPs have a “minimum purchase” associated. JetPrivilege mandates a minimum purchase of 500 JPMiles and thereafter in multiples of 100 JPMiles.
How many flights do I have to take, before I qualify for a free flight?
There are various permutations and combinations that go behind the calculation of miles you accrue, as they not only depend on the sector that you are flying but also, on the fare basis that you have booked the ticket on. Lower the fare basis (DEAL CLASS), lower the miles you accrue, higher the fare basis, higher the miles you accrue.
A rough calculation would be (not proved, published, just a travelled observation), you get a free flight for every 7-10 domestic flights you make, if you fly international then pro rata the number of flight will automatically reduce. The miles can also be used for free flights or upgrading your economy ticket to business or first class.
To give you a simple example, to let you understand this better, I have assumed, that you are flying from Mumbai to Delhi in economy class for business/leisure. To understand exactly the amount of miles you will accrue on a given Jet Airways flight, you may refer to the hyperlink here and refer to the illustration below
Depending on your class of booking you will gather anywhere between 177 to 886 miles. For ease of understanding, I have averaged the miles to 500 miles, per flight taken. Assuming that you take a minimum of 5 (on the same carrier) to and fro business/leisure flights in a year (on a non, low-cost carriers), you stand to accumulate approximately 5000 JP miles.
To understand a number of miles required for a JP Award/Mileage ticket, you may refer here
In continuation with the above, let’s assume you propose to take a family holiday to Goa. After going through the link, or the illustration above, you will soon notice, that with a number of miles (5000) you have accumulated, you stand to qualify for a complimentary one-way ticket to Goa. The above was only an example including only your domestic travel, let’s assume you do a minimum of one or two business/leisure trip abroad, you are almost guaranteed to have qualified for a minimum of one return domestic airfare.
Please Note: The miles mentioned above are required per passenger for the sectors redeemed and are indicative / may vary based on the redemption structure on various Airlines. Origin and Destinations for various Airlines are updated from time to time, please refer to the individual Airline websites for the latest information
Are Award tickets restricted to only Domestic travel or are they valid on International as well?
Redemption of award tickets is valid on both domestic as well as international sectors. With the introduction of airline alliances and code-share flights, frequent-flyer programs are often extended to allow benefits to be used across partner airlines. A Jet Privilege member can choose to redeem his FF points on a partner airline (Etihad) to foreign destinations.
How do I choose between which Frequent Flyer Program to join?
Since enrolling is easy and free, you may be tempted to sign up for multiple programs in order to earn miles for every transaction on every trip. But you will discover eventually that the secret to wringing the most value from mileage programs is to consolidate your participation in as few programs as possible.
The question then becomes: In which program should I consolidate my mileage earnings? The answer depends on where you will be travelling, which airline you’ll be flying, which hotels you’ll patronize, and so on.
The best program for you is the one that awards miles for the trips you make most often, using the airlines and hotels you prefer to use and allowing you to earn free tickets (and possibly elite status and the associated perks) as quickly and conveniently as possible.
Knowing enough about your future travel patterns could also lead to an informed decisions. A lot of airlines offer miles not only on flights, but on hotel bookings as well, so depending on which hotels you stay at, could also influence your choice of FFP. If your company has a travel manager, he/she might be able to provide some guidance and recommendations as well.
Which is the best FFP in India for the domestic traveller?
There are 3 frequent flier programmes in India (FFP). Air India has their Flying Returns programme, Jet Airways has JetPrivilege and Vistara had Club Vistara.
If you are a domestic flier, my vote goes Jet Airways JetPrivilege as the best to choose. Even for international, Jet has a whole lot of code share partners, with whom you can keep earning miles, so it’s great! For a detailed list, click here
The advantage of Air India Flying Returns is that they are part of Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance in the world. And a good status on Flying Returns can mean some pretty good perks on other Star Alliance, most importantly lounge access internationally even when flying economy! You can also earn and redeem miles on Star Alliance members. For list of Star Alliance partner Airlines click here
The TATA-SIA Vistara launched on 9 January 2015, as a full-service premium. The carrier offers a frequent flyer programme called Club Vistara. Currently, You may choose to redeem them for Award Flights with Singapore Airlines and Silk Air.
How do I sign up for a FFP?
Now that you have all the guidelines required to zero in on a FFP of your choice, joining/signing up for it is easy. Simply visit the website of the airline whose program you choose to join and look for links to its mileage program, alternatively, they also distribute them on the flights you travel on, so do watch out for the announcements or ask your cabin attendant for the enrolment form. There’s no charge to enrol. And no, you are not required to carry a credit card affiliated with the program. Each FFP is a “free membership” and the benefits associated with them, increase with frequency of your travels, which will reflect on your “tier” status. Universally FFP, give members either an e-card on sign up of an entry-level card with zero privileges. Then as you continue to quote your membership number in each booking, you accrue/accumulate miles, which are reviewed on a time to time basis and upgrade you to a different status, based on your frequency of travel.
Please remember the below guideline while signing up.
- Please ensure the name in the profile matches that on the passport (or other Govt. issued ID) that is uploaded. Name mismatch would result in loss / missing points and other avoidable glitches.
- Do use only your own Email and Cell Phone number, which is in your possession for normal use.
Immediately after registering, you will be issued a unique membership number, both on the website and in a follow-up e-mail (just be sure to provide your e-mail address and mobile number, during registration). Make note of the number; it’s the key to program participation. To help me remember, keep a list of frequent flyer program membership numbers in my Outlook Contacts section, filed under “Frequent Flyer Programs.”
Some airlines will send you a card in the mail after joining; others won’t send a card until you have activated your account by flying and earning miles, and a few don’t issue cards until you complete a minimum required a number of flights. In any case, the card is superfluous. All that’s required to earn miles is the membership number, which you should provide when making any transaction that awards miles.
So, go ahead, it doesn’t hurt to get a free flight once in a while! Join one or all of them and start earning! Happy flying.
After reading all this, if you still don’t feel the need to sign up for a FFP for yourself then, there is one aspect of the FFP that I haven’t yet mentioned. Most FFPs allow you to Gift, Share or even Transfer your miles to friends and family. Feel free to Gift/Share/Transfer all your unwanted miles to my account for all the effort I took to coax you into getting one 😁😀😀😀
The opinions expressed here are mine alone, not those of the users, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed. Being a JetPrivilege member myself, most of my examples have revolved around my experiences with them, as they are my hands-on experience, rather than referred.