Australia’s most popular frequent flyer programs
Which schemes have the most members and therefore the most competition for reward seats?
If you had to guess Australia's most popular frequent flyer programs, the smart money would be on Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Velocity. But given virtually all frequent flyer programs can be signed up to for nothing, where else are we opting in?
New data from insurer Budget Direct shines some light on that question. A survey of 1,005 Australians asked which schemes people had joined. Here's what emerged:
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||49.80%|
|None of these||35.10%|
|Singapore Airlines Krisflyer||7.90%|
|Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club||2.70%|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||2.00%|
|United Mileage Plus||1.20%|
|British Airways Executive Club||0.90%|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||0.70%|
|JAL Mileage Bank||0.50%|
A few observations: this isn't an exhaustive list, and there are some schemes I would expect might also have similar percentages, such as Air New Zealand Airpoints or some of the bigger Flying Blue scheme members. The fact that 4.2% specified "Jetstar" also suggests confusion, since Jetstar doesn't have a scheme as such (you can earn Qantas Points by paying for a high-priced bundle and you can join Club Jetstar for discounts).
It's reassuring to know that just over one-third of Australians (35.1%) aren't a member of any frequent flyer scheme listed. Competition for seats is already tight enough. That said, the really high percentages for Qantas and Virgin also remind us that you'll need to get in early to score the best seats, and the news isn't heaps better on Singapore Airlines. Also interesting to see is a relatively high figure for Emirates Skywards, suggesting the Emirates/Qantas partnership has helped boost the Dubai carrier's local presence.
Given the high levels of competition, the best frequent flyer strategy remains to concentrate your efforts in a single scheme. That will give you a bigger points total to play with, and as your status within the scheme rises, you'll also get preferential access. There's no problem being a member of multiple schemes, but spreading the love when actually booking your flights doesn't make sense.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.
Picture: Angus Kidman