Before you take that international or local flight to any destination, please know that you could earn miles/points for that trip. You could save and accumulate those miles/points and later on redeem those miles/points for an award ticket. I wasn’t aware of that information when I started traveling that’s why I have decided to write this mini guide to airline miles to help you rack up those miles and travel more.
I have flown a few international flights before I found out about the value of saving airline miles. Luckily, it was less than a year from the dates of my previous flights when I found it out and I was able to reclaim my miles/points. I had used those points later in my life to redeem for other international flights for free (I just paid for the processing fee and applicable taxes).
If you are someone who’s really keen to travel a lot then you should know more about airline miles. It could save you a lot of money once you know the basics of earning and redeeming airline miles.
What are airline miles and how do you earn miles from flying?
Airline miles are basically points you earned by flying a specific airline who has a frequent flyer program. Fortunately, gone are the days when you could only earn miles by flying as there are tons of ways now to earn miles without even flying. Gone are the days as well, when only expensive airlines have frequent flyer programs. Now, even budget carriers let you earn miles/points that you could later redeem for an award ticket.
The main frequent flyer programs in the Philippines are:
- Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Miles
- Cebu Pacific Air GetGo
- Air Asia Big Loyalty Program
Let’s say you signed up with Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Miles and you booked an economy flight afterward to say Bangkok, Thailand.
Based on the latest miles accrual chart of Mabuhay Miles, the miles that you would have earned per way is 682 miles or 1364 miles. This will then go to your Mabuhay Miles account after these flights have been flown. If you did not sign for a Mabuhay Miles membership then these airline miles would have gone to waste. It’s something that you earn without an extra cost to you.
This is just the basic computation for PAL Mabuhay Miles. Please be aware that they have tiered membership levels and the higher your membership level is, the more miles you get to accumulate. And also, the miles earning varies depending on the fare class that you purchase. Of course, the higher the fare class, the higher the miles earning.
With Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Miles, you can also earn miles on selected codeshare partners of Philippine Airlines.
Please note that different airlines have different sets of rules in earning airline miles for flights. Let’s make another example to give you a clearer picture.
Let’s say you signed up with Cebu Pacific Air GetGo and you booked a flight afterward to say a local destination – Caticlan (Boracay) with no add-ons.
Cebu Pacific Air rule on earning GetGo points is that you earn 1 GetGo point for every P5 spend on flights and add-ons. The add-on(s) that are eligible for points earning include Prepaid Baggage Allowance, Prepaid Inflight Meals, Sports Equipment, Seat Selector.
Since the base fare is P299 per way on this particular example, it means that you spent P598 on the total base fare or equivalent to 119 GetGo points. Please note that they do not allow partial or fraction of a point to be awarded. So meaning, even if P598/5 means 119.6, you will just earn 119 points.
Also, note that you can only earn points for your own flight(s) and not for other travelers’ flight(s) even if you have paid on their behalf.
Click here if you want to read the terms and conditions of GetGo.
AirAsia is like a hybrid of both Mabuhay Miles and CebuPacific Air GetGo. They also have a four-tiered membership status – Red, Gold, Platinum, and Black. And you’ll earn Big Points from base fare and add-ons only. As per the Air Asia website, add-on services include pick-a seat, pre-book meals, pre-book baggage, pre-book duty-free, pre-book inflight entertainment, and AirAsia travel insurance. BIG Points is not awarded for taxes, airport fees, and any fees imposed by local and foreign airport authorities.
Here’s how they compute for the Big Points earned from flying with Air Asia flights. Click here if you want to learn more about their FAQs and Terms and Conditions.
How else can you earn points or miles aside from flying?
Purchasing Products or Services from their Partners
A lot of airlines with frequent flyer programs have merchant partners that could help you earn miles or points faster. One of the programs that have the most merchant partner is Cebu PAcific Air GetGo. This is a piece of great news for all members because Cebu Pacific is one of the airlines that has the widest coverage when it comes to local flights.
Convert Credit Card Points to Miles or Points
You can also convert your credit card points to miles or points. One credit card that allows you to convert points to a variety of miles from different frequent flyer programs is Citi PremierMiles.
Earn Points or Miles from Co-branded Credit Cards
This is one of the fastest ways to earn miles or points. Mabuhay Miles, GetGo, and AirAsia Big have co-branded credit cards in the Philippines. Other international frequent flyer programs also have credit card partners in the country. This is one of the fastest ways of earning miles since almost all of your purchases are entitled to earn miles or points. Check out my previous if you want to know the airline co-branded credit cards in the Philippines.
Convert Other Rewards Points
With GetGo, you also have the option to convert other rewards points from other companies such as Grab, Cebuana Lhuiller, and Solaire.
Sign Up Bonuses with Credit Cards
Every now and then, there are sign up bonuses mostly marketed towards new to bank customers that will let you earn miles. FOr example, Citibank is now running a promotion wherein you can earn 30,000 miles. Please note that this promotion runs until July 31, 2020 only. You will have to spend at least P40,000 within 60 days from the card receipt. And your 30,000 PremierMiles will be credited to your account within 30 calendar days. Please take note that this is valid for new to bank customers only (Pls check Terms and Conditions). Click here if you want to apply or if you want to learn more about Citi PremierMiles or other Citi credit cards.
What can you do with the miles or points that you earn?
Book Award Tickets
I basically use the airline miles or points that I earn to book award tickets. Please be aware that award tickets are not entirely free as you still have to pay for processing fees and applicable taxes. However, in most cases, it does cover the base fare.
Book Award Tickets with Partner Airlines
With most bigger frequent flyer programs such as Skymiles, Krisflyer, and Asia Miles, you can redeem your miles to book tickets with their partner airlines. For example, in the past, I earned my Asia Miles when I flew via Cathay Pacific and I redeemed my miles for a flight via Air China.
Purchase Items or Services from their Rewards Catalog
Some airline companies have their rewards catalog where you could purchase products or services in case you’re not interested to redeem your miles to award tickets. For local airlines, Mabuhay Miles has this option and it’s limited for now to redeeming a Resorts World Gift Card. AirAsia also has this option as well and you can redeem your miles for Tune Hotel stays, Kaligo vouchers, and other redemption items offered by AirAsia Big from time to time.
Cebu Pacific Air’s GetGo doesn’t have this option yet but you can also use your GetGo points to pay for the taxes and fee. So, if you have a lot of GetGo points you can really cover your base fare and taxes which essentially gives you a free flight.
International airlines have a ton more options when it comes to using airline miles to purchase products or services.
Donate to Charity
Local airline miles programs don’t have this option yet. But if you own airline miles from other frequent flyer programs such as Skymiles, you have the option to donate your airline miles to charitable institutions.
Share your Miles with Family and Friends
AirAsia has a Fly with Family program wherein you can add up to a maximum of 10 eligible family members at any one time for a faster and more convenient flight redemption experience. The eligible family members could be your spouse, parents, siblings, children, grandparents, in-laws, stepparents, or stepchildren.
Cebu Pacific Air’s GetGo allows a member (“Principal”) to nominate up to seven (7) other individuals (members or non-members) at any one time in a group known as Travel Group. Once nominated, the Principal can use his/her GetGo points (from either his/her own personal balance or Earn Group Balance) towards redeeming reward flights with Cebu Pacific Air or Cebgo on behalf of the nominee(s).
With Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Miles, you can transfer as much as 30,000 miles per year.
Important Tips and Reminders about Airline Miles
Some Airline Miles do Expire
Although it’s often advertised as non-expiring miles, for Cebu Pacific Air’s GetGo and Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Miles, they will expire for a period of inactivity (please refer to their Terms & Conditions for the details). For Air Asia, Big points that you have earned before June 1, 2019, will be valid for 36 months while Big points earned after that date will be valid for 24 months.
Earn Miles Fast
You can earn miles fast by doing this simple travel and credit card tip. Use your airline co-branded credit card to purchase something from a merchant partner (be sure to give the merchant partner your membership card or number). By doing this, you’ll earn miles/points on your credit card and you’ll also earn miles/points from the merchant partner.
Wait for Promotions Before you Book
Every now and then, airlines run a promotion wherein you can book an award ticket for minimal miles/points. Like for example, GetGo is currently running this promotion wherein you could book an award flight for as low as 400 points! If you only use your points during promotions like this, then you’d be able to book more award tickets.
Always Update Yourself with Rules and Policy Changes
Since this program is run at the discretion of the airlines, be sure to keep yourself updated with the changes in their rules and policies to avoid getting surprises in the future. Some of the common changes include, spend to miles ratio, miles redemption award chart updates, and more.
Sign Up with their Email Newsletter
The easiest and fastest way to stay updated with promotions and changes with policies is by signing up with their newsletters. If you’re already a member of a frequent flyer program, just go to your account settings and check if you subscribed to their updates.
Should you sign up with a frequent flyer program and earn airline miles?
Yes! It’s a free service at no extra cost to you. It’ll be such a waste if you don’t claim those miles that you will earn from the flights. Even if you don’t earn enough miles to redeem for a flight, you could probably use those miles for something else.
Do you have additional tips or suggestions? Feel free to share your thoughts about airline miles in the comment section below.