Frequent Flyer Miles
What they are
A frequent flyer program (FFP) is a service offered by many airlines to reward customer loyalty. Typically, airline customers enrolled in the program accrue points corresponding to the distance flown on that airline. Accrued points (also known as frequent flyer miles) can be redeemed for free air travel; for other goods or services; or for increased benefits, such as airport lounge access or priority bookings; however, this depends on the airline.
How to get them
You are able to sign up for an airline's frequent flyer program at any time, however the information required can be different for various airlines. Travelers can sign up online, at the airport, or over the phone before and during their trip, as well as after travel is completed. Each airline has different time limitations for the number of weeks after a flight is completed that you can claim your miles, so it is best to sign up before you leave or immediately after you return.
The primary method of obtaining points in a frequent flyer program is to fly with the associated airline. Most systems reward travellers with a specific number of points based on the distance travelled (such as 1 point per mile flown), although systems vary. In Europe, for example, a number of airlines offer a fixed number of points per flight regardless of the distance. The calculation method can become complicated, with additional points given for flying first or business class, and often fewer points given when flying on discounted tickets. With the introduction of airline alliances and code-share flights, frequent flyer programs are often extended to allow benefits to be used across partner airlines. Many programs also allow points to be obtained not just through flying, but by staying at participating hotels, or renting a vehicle from a participating company. Other methods include credit cards that offer points for charges made to the card, and systems which allow restaurant diners to earn miles by eating at participating restaurants. Programs differ on the expiration of points. Some expire after a fixed time, and others expire if the account is inactive for an extended period (for example, three years).
Rules vary. See the website for the airline you will be using.
This page was last updated on: October 19, 2011