Read our guide on “How to fly to Europe on Singapore Airlines Business Class for free” and am interested to accrue your miles and aim for your first business class trip out? Are you confused with the various programs that are mentioned and have no idea what’s the difference between Krisflyer and Star Alliance? In this guide, we will explain the differences and at the end of the article, you should be able to decide what program is best suited for yourself.
For a start, you need to know the 3 major alliances – Star Alliance, Oneworld & SkyTeam.
So what is an airline alliance?
From Wikipedia – “An airline alliance is an agreement between two or more airlines to cooperate on a substantial level. Most of the largest passenger airlines worldwide are members of one of three major alliances: the Star Alliance, Oneworld, or SkyTeam. Alliances also form between cargo airlines, such as that of WOW Alliance, SkyTeam Cargo, and ANA/UPS Alliance. Alliances provide a network of connectivity and convenience for international passengers and international packages. Alliances also provide convenient marketing branding to facilitate travelers making inter-airline codeshare connections within countries. This branding goes as far as to even include unified aircraft liveries among member airlines”
1. Star Alliance
Star Alliance is the largest alliance and the one that’s closest to heart as our national carrier – Singapore Airlines is one of the 27 airlines in this alliance. Apart from asian airlines, there are american airlines, european and even african airlines as well!
Each of these airlines in the alliance has their own frequent flier program. For instance, Singapore Airlines has Krisflyer, Thai Airways has Royal Orchid Plus, Asiana has Asiana Club. Does that mean that when you fly Thai Airways, you should open a Royal Orchid Plus account? And when you fly Asiana, you open an Asian Club?
Well, if you want to do that, no one can stop you as the membership is free for all programmes. However, as the programmes are based on the distance you fly, it is best to decide on one programme and accrue all the miles in that account. Think of it as a bank account. You can put your money in the 3 local banks like UOB, DBS and OCBC, but if you are a humble working Singaporean like yours truly who is still slaving away, then there may not be much to go around. Also, once you have achieved a critical mass, it may be best to put in one bank, especially if you can get a better status like DBS Treasures or UOB Priority Banking. With that “status”, you will stand to earn more perks and this is evident in the frequent flier miles programme too. (Will elaborate in another article)
The frequent flier programme is a rewards programme similar to Comfort’s CabRewards which rewards you for taking their cabs regularly, or the TapForMore programme which rewards you for visiting Dairy Farm’s chain of supermarkets. Thus, by flying any of the airlines in this alliance regularly, you will chalk up miles that can be used to redeem for your free flight in time to come!
For most beginners, I would suggest looking at the asian airlines since these are close to home and most likely to be taking these airlines. Krisflyer is our local programme and most credit card miles can only be transferred to Krisflyer, so it is worthwhile having a Krisflyer account.
What are the other benefits of flying Star Alliance airlines?
Move Under One Roof
At selected airports, member airlines are grouped together to share common ticketing and check-in counters, as well as lounges, baggage facilities and other services and this is known as ‘Move Under One Roof’ (MUOR). For example, all Star Alliance member airlines fly into the same terminal in Miami, Singapore and Seoul. This makes it easier to transfer between flights without needing to change terminals, helping reduce your connection times, so you can travel more seamlessly between destinations.
The Star Alliance Connection Centres automatically tracks real-time passenger and baggage information on arriving flights and the member airlines Connections Teams will then do everything possible to help both you and your baggage make your flight connection. Wherever available they’ll even meet you when you get off the plane to ensure you enjoy a quick and smooth transfer. There are currently 11 Star Alliance Connection Centres at the following airports – Bangkok, Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Munich, Newark, San Francisco, Toronto or Washington Dulles.
If you are interested to find out about the different frequent flier programs by any of the Star Alliance partners, check out the Star Alliance website here
2. One World
One World is actually the 3rd largest airline alliance behind Star Alliance and SkyTeam. However, it has a number of key airline partners around the region hence many people may actually choose to have a Oneworld membership instead of a Star Alliance one. Some of the more prominent names include British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas and Qatar.
Similarly, like Star Alliance partners, Oneworld partners have their own frequent flier programs. The most popular one would be Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo as you can transfer the miles you earn from your credit card to Asia Miles (only for some banks).
However, do note that the members in the alliance may change from time to time, so it is important to check their website regularly or subcribe to their newsletter to keep abreast of any changes. Check out One World website here.
SkyTeam has 20 members under its alliance, including 4 China Airlines. The most popular and well known would be KLM, Korean Air and Delta. As such, looking at the list, unless you fly to these countries regularly, chances are you will not find this alliance useful.
However, do note that Citibank cardmembers can transfer their miles to Delta’s Skymiles and Garuda Frequent flier, so if you use these 2 airlines regularly, then it may be worthwhile joining this alliance!
For your next trip, think about which alliance is most suitable for you. Then, look at the alliance airlines and see whether they fly to your destination. If they don’t, then you may consider another alliance and repeat the process. Personally, I would recommend accruing the miles in one programme so as to achieve the “Gold” status as that will allow you to enjoy perks like additional luggage allowance, priority boarding etc. Do note that you need to fly to accrual the miles for the “Gold” status. Simply charging to your credit card will not earn you this status!
Which is your favourite airline alliance? Share your thoughts in the comments box below!