Collecting miles for one and only one airline is pretty much the way to go, at least for those of us who can’t afford traveling like demigods. I hard to learn this the hard(ish) way. In one of my transatlantic round trips, I saw that Delta and Airfrance were in the same alliance so I thought “why not open a frequent flyer account with both of them, it’s gonna give me more benefits”. No, it just didn’t work that way. One of the advantages of airline alliances is that you get miles even when you fly with partner airlines, but there’s a catch, miles are only awarded to one of the programs you are signed up for. So, what exactly happens when you do what I did?
My miles got split, and at first, I didn’t realize how messed up that was. After some contemplation, I realized it was gonna take me more flights to reach status with any of both programs since I now had half my miles in one account and a half in the other. If I were to keep on this way and reach silver with both Air France’s (and KLM’s) Flying Blue and Delta’s SkyMiles the benefits wouldn’t have been as good as having reached gold with just one of the airlines. The silver level for frequent flyers is usually easy to obtain. Flying overseas you can reach silver with as little as two round trips in one year. This also means you compete with more people when trying to upgrade and an upgrade will only be possible if the remaining seats in business and first class haven’t been taken already by higher frequent flyer members, such as Gold and Platinum, who are allowed to request an upgrade with more time in advance. See why I mean it’s better to be a Gold member with one of the Airlines than silver with two?
Another thing that caught my attention is that some Delta flights awarded miles to my Flying Blue account while some Airfrance/KLM flights awarded miles to my SkyMiles account, and not in the most efficient ways. Air France, for example, will award miles based on how much you paid. Unlucky me got only 25% of the miles flown on some flights awarded.
Being in two frequent flyer programs within the same alliance will only make it more difficult to actually redeem your miles. Stick to one account and keep collecting as many miles as you can, that’s the best way to go.