Alternative Oneworld Loyalty Programmes Besides Executive Club

Jun 27, 2019

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We write a lot about Avios here at TPG UK, as we believe it’s the most popular points currency in the UK. If you fly British Airways frequently, you might believe Executive Club is the only loyalty programme you need to think about.

But there are plenty of other Oneworld loyalty programmes that, depending on your travel patterns, might even be a better fit for you than Executive Club.

Iberia Plus

You might be aware that Iberia also uses Avios as its currency and that you can move Avios between Executive Club and Iberia Plus. While Iberia Plus doesn’t have the excellent value Reward Flight Savers that Executive Club does, which is a downside, it has a number of differences with Executive Club that may be advantageous:

  • Its peak and off-peak calendar is different, so depending on your travel dates you may be able to book an off-peak redemption through Iberia Plus that would be a peak redemption date in Executive Club.
  • Is has a different award chart, which has lower Avios requirements for popular routes like to New York (JFK) and Boston (BOS).
  • Iberia Plus does not calculate the Avios required per flight like Executive Club does. Instead, it does so on a total distance basis, which means if you’re booking connecting flights you may need fewer Avios. The downside of this is that it requires round-trip itineraries for most bookings, whereas Executive Club allows one-ways.
  • Fees and taxes can be lower, especially if you are starting your journey from Spain, as the UK APD Tax is not be payable.

You may wish to have an Iberia Plus account on standby even if you like Executive Club for those times when it makes more sense to redeem through Iberia Plus, given you can move existing Avios between the two accounts easily.

Iberia Business Class. (Photo by Benji Stawski / The Points Guy)

American Airlines AAdvantage

For a long time, AAdvantage was the best-value Oneworld loyalty programme for redemptions. There were some astonishingly low redemption rates compared with Executive Club, which uses a region-based award chart rather than a distance-based chart. Some AAdvantage redemption levels were half the amounts Executive Club would charge for the same itineraries.

But AAdvantage has slowly but steadily devalued its programme over the past few years since the American Airlines merger with US Airways. And while the AAdvantage award chart is still lower than Executive Club with the exception of the great value Reward Flight Savers, it’s not the clear winner it used to be.

If you are trying to build Oneworld status, AAdvantage is probably not the best programme to choose. However, if you can earn plenty of miles and are looking for lower redemption levels especially in premium classes, AAdvantage may be the answer. AAdvantage also partners with Etihad, opening another partner possibility for redemptions.

As an example of some of the difference in pricing:

  • London to Los Angeles in business class on British Airways — AAdvantage charges 57,500 miles one-way while Executive Club charges 75,000 on a peak date
  • Manchester to Hong Kong in business class on Cathay Pacific — AAdvantage charges 75,000 miles one-way while Executive Club charges 92,750 Avios on all dates
  • London to Sydney in first class on Qatar Airways — AAdvantage charges 115,000 miles one-way while Executive Club charges a whopping 206,000 Avios.

AAdvantage is not a transfer partner of Membership Rewards UK, so it may be more difficult to amass AAdvantage miles without flying as compared to Avios.

Gate agents assist passengers using facial recognition camera technology to board an American Airlines Group Inc. flight to China at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Friday, March 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, Calif. © 2019 Patrick T. Fallon for The Points Guy
(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/The Points Guy)

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank

While status is difficult to earn in this programme unless you are flying JAL itself and it’s not a transfer partner of Membership Rewards UK, JAL does partner with Emirates and Air France, which allows you to both earn and redeem for flights on these airlines, as well as British Airways and other Oneworld partners.

There are cheap redemptions domestically in Japan on JAL, like how Executive Club has Reward Flight Savers for its European flights.

The programme uses a distance-based award chart but does not price per segment like Executive Club does and allows you to book up to six flight segments on a single redemption. The programme has a generous stopover policy, so if you are looking for ‘two holidays in one’ by booking stopovers, as well as additional unique partners that don’t belong to oneworld, JAL could be a great fit.

In fact, depending on your routing, you could book up to three stopovers which is very generous.

Japan Airlines Business Class meal. (Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)

Bottom Line

Based on your travel patterns, it could make sense to look at other Oneworld loyalty programmes beyond Executive Club. A number of them have benefits that could prove to be rewarding if maximised completely.

Featured photo courtesy Oneworld.

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