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Oneworld Asia Strategy
Would appreciate some advice from Lucky and all you savvy travelers out there. I am based in Taiwan and fly biz class to the US four times a year. I am currently targeted to hit Delta Diamond elite by the end of the year. However, I’m thinking of changing to the Oneworld alliance starting in 2018. The reasons are multiple: Delta pulled out of Taiwan in May, biz class flights out of Taiwan on SkyTeam are generally more expensive than other alliances, Oneworld international lounges are INFINITELY better than SkyTeam’s, and I can initiate flights out of a more convenient regional airport routing through HKG instead of driving all the way to TPE.
So I’m looking at the Oneworld elite programs of American Airlines (where all my quarterly US biz class flights would take place), Cathay Pacific (which has fantastic lounges at HKG but a convoluted elite program), and British Airways (due to the possibility of eventually earning Lifetime Gold). With my quarterly US flights and a little extra effort, I should just be able to hit the max levels of each program every year but with not a lot of margin to spare.
AA Executive Platinum: Might take a little more effort to hit the 100k MQM but doable. Lifetime Platinum at 2MM miles but that only gets you Oneworld Sapphire (2nd level), no option for lifetime Oneworld Emerald (top level). I would already be flying biz class so domestic upgrades wouldn’t help much.
Cathay Pacific Diamond: Very easy for me to achieve annually and great benefits in Asia, especially HKG. BUT the Marco Polo program is a PITA resetting your status earning after every tier level achieved, so would likely take a full 2 years to reach Diamond due to all the resetting and no option to status match to skip ahead. No option for lifetime status at all. Not to mention the $100 initial sign up fee.
British Airways Gold: Reasonably easy to achieve annually. Lifetime Gold (Oneworld Emerald) is possible after 10-20 years but who knows how the program will change over that time? Worst part is the requirement to fly at least four BA segments EVERY year until you hit lifetime.
Or just stay with Delta and SkyTeam? Delta’s crossover rewards with Starwood hotels earns me about $450 of free hotel nights a year. I’ll get free CLEAR annually with my Diamond status which has security line benefits at every Delta hub. And the new A350 with the award winning Delta One Suites will start flying on part of my regular US route at the end of October.
What does Lucky and everyone else think? Thanks in advance!
It sounds like you are looking more for elite benefits, rather than mileage accrual?
If so, I’d stick with Delta. I’d be very excited for the A350 with their new enclosed suites coming your way.
Also, you can get Lifetime Medallion with Delta if you are close to a million mile threshold.
Being based in Taiwan, have you considered EVA? There are some excellent Star Alliance partners as well as some of the best lounges in the world you could access as a Star Alliance Gold member…
Thanks for the response. Yeah, I’m really tempted to stick around for the Delta One Suite on the A350. It’s just that TPE is kind of a PITA to get to whereas my regional airport RMQ is tiny but convenient with regular Cathay Pacific (via Dragon Air) flights to HK in which case I would be able to enjoy Cathay’s world class lounges while waiting for my connecting flights. Figure I’d get that benefit about 15-20 times a year compared to the dreary Skyteam lounges I currently inhabit.
Also, I priced out a bunch of long haul biz class flights and most of the time Oneworld comes out significantly less expensive than SkyTeam by about 20% or more convenient at competitive prices.
The problem with Star Alliance for me is that I would still need to fly out of TPE. EVA certainly has better lounges there than Skyteam (China Airlines) but not nearly as nice as the Cathay ones in HK. Then I’m basically comparing EVA business class (standard reverse herringbone) to Delta’s A350 in which case Delta wins. Not to mention getting stuck in United for domestic travel…
Makes sense. I’d plan on at least sticking with Delta until October and giving the new suite a try. Assuming you’re traveling for work and the employer won’t pay for first class, I can’t imagine you’d have a better ride and seat than the new Delta One on the A350.
If upgrades aren’t important since you’re already flying in a premium cabin, I think Delta is hard to beat with their top-tier benefits. American and United have nothing like the choice benefits that Delta offers Diamond members.
I would try to stick with a US based carrier though, if you are flying a lot of paid business class. Since the US carriers now offer miles based on the cost of the ticket and not the distance flown (like British), you’re going to come out way ahead as a top-tier elite with redeemable miles.
Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. I’ve already booked my flights through the end of this year and was starting to think about next year. Totally agree with you on the revenue based points as I’m getting roughly one international RT business class on points for every three I pay for, not a bad incentive. I also like how I can double dip with Starwood crossover rewards.