Which Programme is best to join - Swiss or Singapore

7 replies

MuzzH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 22 Dec 2015

Total posts 27

My son is about to leave Australia to commence a 4 year degree at a university in Switzerland. We have always been a Qantas/OneWorld family, but as he will be in Switzerland for at least 4 years, he will probably be travelling with Swiss Airlines. Which FF programme should he join - Swiss or Singapore (he is flying Singapore Syd - SNG - ZUR on 27 Feb). Any advice or suggestions of the best way to navigate the Star Alliance would be appreciated. Many thanks, Muzz

planesa380

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 05 Sep 2013

Total posts 72

First of all, congratulation to your son’s admittance into uni in Switzerland.

I think that you/he first need to work out a few things:

1) Will he be returning to Australia once a year, twice a year, more frequently, or never?

2) Do you think that Covid-19 will affect any trips to Australia or other travel plans over the next few year? Will it case issues for you/your son to retain his status if the goal is only to get Star Alliance Gold?

3) Will he be traveling during his degree and if so, how frequently (each weekend, once a month, only in uni breaks, or only when he gets time of work/study) and where (just Europe or other areas too)?

4) Where will he/you want to live after uni? In Europe or in Australia? Will you be shifting to Star Alliance for the long term or only whist studding in Europe?

5) Are you trying to get Star Alliance Gold for 1 year, 2 years or Lifetime? Or are you just trying to make sure that your frequent flyer points don’t expire?

When it comes to what is the best Star Alliance airlines to credit your miles too well it depends. I’d strongly recommend google-ing it for more articles there are thousands of them and here on ET there are many guides to Star Alliance as well.


But here are some of my recommendations:

1) Is your priority is that you want the best reward space on Swiss?

Swiss Air Lines is a part of the Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Eurowings and Brussels Airlines). Swiss doesn’t have its own frequent flyer program it is a part of Lufthansa’ Groups overall frequent flyer program “Miles and More”. Miles and More is changing in 2022 and I would recommend that you look at the changes coming to the program. But the main changes are, that you need to fly at least 50% of your qualifying points solely on participating Miles & More carriers (Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, LOT Polish Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Adria Airways, Luxair and Air Dolomiti). The remanding 50% can come from other Star Alliance carriers like Singapore Airlines. ET has more info here too. Also, worth considering is that Miles and More does have a lifetime status option, but it is hard to achieve is you only fly for leisure; or are not always traveling in a premium cabins; or flexible tickets that earn more points. Always remember that: just because you can get lifetime status doesn’t mean that the benefits won’t change over time; and if the company goes out of business/bankruptcy/receivership you could also loose the lifetime benefits all together.

2) Do you want a frequent flyer program with more earning opportunities in Australia?

Look at airlines and frequent flyer programs that have more operation to and within Australia like Air New Zealand or Singapore Airlines. Air New Zealand being geographically closer to Australian has more Australian options than Lufthansa Group’s “Miles and More” Program for earning miles in and around Australia and the Pacific. Air New Zealand has partnership with Australian Banks, so that you can earn Airpoint Dollar via some Australian issued credit cards. Plus, Air New Zealand is more motivated to find opportunities for you to earn and burn in the Aus-Pacific region than Lufthansa/Swiss. Plus, you can redeem your Airpoints easily on Trans-Tasman flights if you will be returning to Australia after your study.

3) Will you only be flying Singapore Airlines between Australia and Europe?

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Elite Gold (aka Star Alliance Gold) is a relatively easy frequent flyer program to earn Star Alliance Gold. You need to earn 50,000 elite miles in 12 consecutive months. So, SYD-SIN-ZRH is 10,313 Miles X 2 = 20,626 Miles round trip. If he flies economy: you’d need at least 2 round trips between Sydney and Zurich, if traveling in a fare class earning KrisFlyer Miles and at a full 1 mile flown = 1 point ratio (like most flexible economy tickets), and he would still need to earn a few thousand more miles each 12 months in addition to the two round trips. Note, some Singapore airfares do not earn 1 point per 1 mile flown; and some fare do earn miles at all. Or if he says flies in Business class the earn ratio is 1.25 to 1.5 point per 1 mile flown. So, 2 round trips in business class get you Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Elite Gold.

4) There are easier airlines to earn Star Alliance Gold:

With Aegean’s Miles & Bonus program you can earn Gold status (Star Alliance Gold) by earn 24,000 tier miles within 12 months (including at least 4 Aegean/Olympic flights) or 48,000 tier miles otherwise. Plus, its half the number of points to maintain the status for subsequence years.

5) Longer earn periods for Star Alliance Gold:

Look at Turkish Airline’s Miles & Smiles Program. To earn Elite Status (Star Alliance Gold): you need to earn 40,000 status miles within 12 months. Then to maintain Elite Status (Star Alliance Gold) for non-Turkish residents: you need to earn 25,000 status miles in 1 year or 37,500 status miles within 2 years. This could give you more flexibility and could be worth considering. Also note that Turkish Airlines flies to 126 countries, more than any other airline.

6) You don’t care about Star Alliance Gold and you only want a program where my frequent flyer point do not expire:

Simple answer is United’s Mileage Plan. Your miles do not expire and you do not need to keep your account active every 12 months. Other Star Alliance airlines’ frequent flyer program do expire and/or do expire if the account has not been active for a period of time.

A few things to remember about all frequent flyer programs:

1) Frequent flyer programs change over times and going out of this Covid-19 pandemic, benefits and the ways that you earn status could change.

2) Your plans can change you don’t want to look yourself into a stagey that you can’t maintain, or will be miserable to achieve year in year out.

3) Airlines and partners can leave alliances and/or frequent flyer programs and this could affect your plans.

4) Airlines and partners can go into bankruptcy/receivership which could also affect you and your benefits as well.

A few final thinks to consider too:

1) Will you be traveling more locally in Switzerland? Switzerland has a good railway and bus network and domestic flights within Switzerland are not necessary to easily get around.

2) Europe has a good and competitive low-cost carriers’ scene for flights and a rapidly growing low-cost bus network too. In Europe, there are many low-cost carriers that have a presence in Switzerland and the surrounding counties that may mean a quick drive, bus or train for a 10 Euro or Swiss Franc flight. In Europe, you have Ryanair, EasyJet, Wizz Air, Eurowings and many other low-cost carriers, that can be pretty good, if you know and understand the rules and manage your expectations. Also, Switzerland and Europe more broadly have a good and growing low-cost bus network. In Europe look at Flixbus and in Switzerland look at Post Bus too. As a uni student, if he is paying his own way for local travel or if he is traveling with friend, saving money would be a priority and it would probably be more likely that he uses low cost carries or travels by bus or train over flying with Swiss Air Lines whose fares can be expensive if you have limited flexibility or travel in peek times like holidays.

3) What if he gets a girlfriend/partner in Switzerland will this affect any plans? What about work and study? Winter or Summer Units? He may want some time to just relax in the city where the uni is located and doesn’t want to travel each break?

Hope this has given you something to think about and good luck.

MuzzH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 22 Dec 2015

Total posts 27

Dear Planesa380

Many thanks for your very comprehensive response, I really do appreciate your wisdom and the effort you have gone to!

My son has gained admission to EHL university (www.ehl.edu) to study Hotel Management (Warning, proud parent boast - it is regarded and ranked as the finest hotel management degree in the world and was fortunate to be one of 300 students selected from 3,500 applicants, so we are very proud of him! - boast over). Part of the degree entails a number of 6 month internships anywhere in the world (literally) over the coming 4 years. We have relatives in the UK and I am sure he will make friends with his classmates, so will do some European travel. With Covid we are unsure when he will be able to return to Australia (so we are sending him away with the expectation he won't come home anytime soon) so he may end up spending the university holidays in Europe (i know, it is a tough life!).

As Swiss hubs out of Zurich, I suspect that we will join the Swiss/Lufthansa programme, but without looking too much, the United Programme with miles that don't expire does sound good. He knows from older students that the use of the rail network is great for short trips and the uni being in Lausanne he faces a 2 hour train ride to Zurich just to get on a plane. For trips home, I would probably suspect he will revert to Qantas/Oneworld as he has Gold status with them - although given all the upheaval with air travel, who knows what may end up happening.

I just think that if he is going to do some travel he might as well show loyalty to an airline or group so he can bank his points and (hopefully) earn status. His trip to Zurich next week is Business Class - only because of the large volume of luggage he is taking and we thought the bonus of more space was worth the investment. His trips from then on will be in economy or premium economy at best.

Once again, many thanks for your thoughtful insight.

Best wishes, Muzz

abudhabi1

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

Member since 15 Jan 2013

Total posts 71

singapore as if one also has a velocity account whatever is earned on airlines virgin australia is not in partnership with like anything in the star alliance can be transferred.basically it works out what ones plans are.

Canadian Flier

Air Canada - Aeroplan

Member since 13 Feb 2017

Total posts 2

I also would like to add my congratulations to your son, and wish him a wonderful time in Switzerland. I myself studied there in the 1960s, and enjoyed every minute. I think once you say "goodbye" to him, it could be 4 years before you see him again. However, now you have social media, which we did not have in the 60s. During his vacation, he will probably want to work as a student in a hotel, gaining more experience, and earning some extra money. Especially, if his friends work in a Swiss Hotel! During the winter, if he does not already ski in the "Blue Mountains", he will want to ski in the Swiss Alps. And of course, the "camaraderie" is fantastic. Even 60 years later, I am still in touch with colleagues I studied and worked with in Switzerland! I would suggest the "Lufthansa/Swiss" FF scheme. Singapore ONLY count Business and First Class travel on their flights towards Gold. Even though he might fly Business class on other *A flights, it will not count towards Gold status on SQ. The miles will count, but not towards the PP/Solitaire status. Also as previous comments have stated, you do have to think of Covid. You have Australians who even after 1 year, cannot get back to Australia because of limitations on people entering Australia put on by your Government. Qatar and Emirates have had a limit on number of passengers each week, they can bring to Australia. We are being told that Covid , even with vaccines, is here to stay and we will have to have Annual Vaccine, and maybe wear masks in places!

The Decision is yours ! Once again, Congratulations all around!


albertgonzalezwizard

Member since 20 Feb 2021

Total posts 7

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Joe

Member since 03 May 2013

Total posts 109

Personally I'd stick with oneworld. A short hop to LHR to fly BA or QF or even using QR via DOH will probably bode well for his return eventually to Australia. At least for domestic travel.

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