On Saturday, I talked about booking a business class ticket on All Nippon Airways (ANA) for $675 roundtrip. This fare popped up and was gone within a few hours. For the lucky few of us who actually managed to find dates that worked and completed a booking, we must now figure out where to credit the miles we earn for the flights.

Usually, I’m focused on how to use credit cards to my advantage to earn miles and points since it is often the most cost-effective way to do so. However, if you book a cash ticket on a domestic or international flight, you want to make sure you credit the miles to a frequent flyer program you’ll use.

Yes, you have options. You are NOT locked into the loyalty program of the airline you are flying. If you prefer, you can choose one of their partner airlines and credit the miles you’d earn to that program.

Frequent Flyer Program: Choosing The Right One

Before you decide which airline loyalty program to use, you have a few things to consider:

  1. Are you trying to earn status with a particular airline? If so, can this flight help you?
  2. How many redeemable miles will you earn and then use toward a future award flight?
  3. If redeemable miles are your priority, which airline miles are you most likely to use before they expire?
 The Swiss Air business class lounge has a great view of the tarmac.
The Swiss Air business class lounge has a great view of the tarmac.

Which of these variables is most important to you will be determined by several factors. If you fly regularly on cash tickets, particularly if you do so for work, earning status with a particular airline will often be the number one concern. This is particularly true if you are flying internationally in economy class and want lounge access during your travels.

If you are like most people, earning status is probably pretty low on your priority list since earning with a company paying for it costs a nice chunk of change and involves a lot of flying. In this case, earning redeemable miles in a program you can and will use to book award flights (my favorite!) should be your goal.

ANA Business Class: Where To Credit This Deal?

That brings us back to the amazing ANA business class fare deal. If you regularly fly with Star Alliance partners such as United, Air Canada, Lufthansa, ANA (of course), etc., crediting the miles to your preferred program is going to be your first priority so you can earn status more easily.

Specifically, earning high enough status with a Star Alliance carrier to provide you Star Alliance Gold status will be important. For example, United Airlines Premier Gold status gives you Star Alliance Gold status which provides access to business class lounges and a bunch of other benefits when you are flying internationally even when you’re in economy class.

Now, if you’re looking for the best airline to credit these flights so that you can get a ton of redeemable miles, you can get some help from Where To Credit. This site will show you what percentage of the miles flown you will earn as redeemable miles. In many cases, this will also indicate how many status miles you will earn.

The flight miles for this ANA deal will be around 20,495. The business class ticket is a Z fare class so let’s look at a few of our options.

SAS EuroBonus: Earn Star Gold Status

 SAS EuroBonus could be a quick way for you to earn Star Gold status. - Image courtesy of SAS
SAS EuroBonus could be a quick way for you to earn Star Gold status. – Image courtesy of SAS

The quickest path to Star Gold might be through the Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) EuroBonus program. SAS is not the most well-known airline in the US, but they operate routes to the US from Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm.

To earn status, you need to earn 45,000 Basic Points. This ANA booking will earn 200% of your flight miles which means you can reach 40,990 Basic Points which is just 4,010 Basic Points from EuroBonus Gold. With that, you will have earned your Star Gold status and have access to Star Alliance business class lounges and a bunch of other perks.

Unlike many other airlines, SAS does not partner with any of the transferable points programs such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, or SPG Starpoints.

This makes earning more redeemable points more difficult, so this option is probably best left to those who want a quick way to earn Star Gold status.

Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus: Maintain Star Gold Status

Aegean Airlines is a regional airline based in Greece, but it is a favorite of many who want to earn and/or maintain Star Alliance Gold status. Aegean requires 72,000 miles on Star Alliance partners to earn Miles+Bonus Gold, which grants Star Alliance Gold, so it’s not a super easy path to status.

However, this ANA business class flight will earn at a rate of 200% in crediting to Aegean Airlines which means you will receive roughly 40,990 status miles and redeemable miles with Aegean. That’s over half way to Star Gold status.

Where Aegean really shines is if you already have Miles+Bonus Gold status. This ANA fare deal is even better since you only need 24,000 miles with Star Alliance partners to maintain your Aegean Miles+Bonus status. With this booking, you’ll earn nearly twice as many miles needed to requalify!

For my friend, Julie, this is a fantastic way go. Julie flies in economy class the vast majority of the time and having Star Gold status means she can access business class lounges to relax before flights even though she’s not flying business class.

Not only could she easily requalify and earn a bunch of redeemable miles, but she could also transfer SPG Starpoints to Aegean to give her account a boost. When you consider the SPG transfer bonus of 5,000 miles, transferring 20,000 SPG Starpoints is a great way to go!

Like SAS, it’s not a commonly used program in the US, but it is a solid way to earn Star Gold status, an amazing way to maintain Star Gold status, and even has some interesting redemption options.

Asiana Club: Earn Redeemable Miles

As I don’t have much use for Star Gold status like my friend Julie, earning miles to use toward my next award ticket is the priority for me. That means I’m looking at Asiana Club.

Asiana Club is another airline loyalty program that’s not commonly used in the US (do see a pattern emerging?) but has great redemption options when booking with their Star Alliance partners.

If you credited the ANA deal to Asiana Club, you would earn 125% of the flight miles. That would provide you with 25,619 redeemable Asiana miles. This might not be as many as you’d earn if you credited your flight to Aegean Miles+Bonus or SAS EuroBonus, but Asiana’s award chart makes it worth it.

For only 50,000 Asiana miles, you can book a one-way first class award ticket to or from Europe! Asiana does pass on carrier-imposed surcharges on its award tickets which can be a bit steep on Star Alliance partners such as Lufthansa, but it is still a solid deal and might I say, totally worth it!

Not to mention the fact that Lufthansa first class is one of the best flying experiences in the world. You can even relax in the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt before your flight. Note that I didn’t say “lounge”, I said “terminal”!

 Lufthansa has become known for their First Class Terminal souvenir ducks.
Lufthansa has become known for their First Class Terminal souvenir ducks.

Seriously, though. It is amazing! I just flew with them and cannot wait to fly Lufthansa first class again. I feel that it might become an obsession. Also, they have sweet souvenir ducks.

If business class is more your style, you can use 40,000 Asiana miles for a one-way ticket to or from Europe. You can book a flight with one of their partners such as Austrian Airlines which is known for their inflight catering.

Imagine a trolly of appetizers rolled down the aisle then plated right in front of you. If it seems over-the-top (and awesome), you’re right. It absolutely is! From the appetizers to the main course to the coffee (something else they do really well), Austrian Airlines business class is a blast.

Thanks to Asiana’s partnership with SPG Starpoints, you can easily transfer points into your Asiana Club account when you’re ready to book an award flight. To top it off, Bank of American provides a co-branded card with Asiana Airlines that allows you to earn Asiana miles directly.

If it seems like I’m a total fanboy about Asiana Club, it’s because I am. It’s basically my pet obsession of an airline loyalty program.

Final Thoughts

Let’s get straight to the points…

It’s rare to get amazing business class airfare deals like this ANA deal. That being said, it was a good chance to consider how you handle any paid flights you might take. While I generally book award flights, I still want to make sure I maximize my return on my paid flights.

Remember, you don’t have to attach use the loyalty program of the airline you are flying. If you are flying an airline that is a member of Star Alliance such as ANA, you can attach a loyalty program number from a Star Alliance partner to help you earn more useful redeemable miles or earn status. This also applies to flights on SkyTeam airlines and oneworld airlines.

Before you make a decision, consider what you want to get out of the flight. Is it progress toward elite status because you take a lot of paid economy flights? Are you like me and prefer to get useful redeemable miles? No need to feel pressure, though. You can change the loyalty program up until you check in for your flight.

With a just a few minutes of thought, you can reap the rewards.

Need some help figuring out where to credit flights? Leave a comment below and I’ll see how I can help!

See you in the sky!

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