Although I am not sure what time in which time zone, sometime within the next couple of hours, TAM and US Airways will have officially left Star Alliance and joined OneWorld. If you are a member of American AAdvantage or British Airways Avios, this means you now have 2 new airlines to book awards on! If you are a member of US Airways Dividend Miles, this means you will now be booking your awards using the OneWorld alliance partners. You will find US Airways listed as an American Airlines affiliate since they are in the process of merging.
US Airways also plans to continue partnerships with some Star Alliance airlines on an individual basis – Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TAM, TAP and Turkish Airways. We still don’t know if you will be able to mix awards using OneWorld airlines and these individual partners. Some of the partners such as Air New Zealand & Singapore Airlines will end this agreement in June.
HEADS UP TO ECO-TOURISTS
With TAM in OneWorld, this creates a nice opportunity for cheap award flights around Brazil using Avios! I’ve highlighted a few destinations in yellow in the route map below that are of greatest interest to birders. Brazil is a very easy country to get around and it is very simple to book most of the best eco-lodges online so this will make it easy to create your own individualized birding itinerary!
US Airways has added more routes within the USA and to Europe and a few routes to the Caribbean which may be helpful.
In just one more month, Sri Lankan Airlines also joins OneWorld and opens up more possibilities to this gorgeous country with amazing birds that I was blogging about for a couple months!
There are probably locally based blogs for these areas which would cover how to earn miles from credit card sign up bonuses so what I will do here is create a reference for the major airlines so you can see who partners with what bank, then Google for a local blog that tracks special offers on these cards. No matter which country you live in, always check with American Express as they have the Membership Rewards program available in most countries but the partners vary widely.
A good rule of thumb no matter where you live is to sign up for your local airline’s program (preferably one in Star Alliance or One World) to get credit card miles and any possible points from everyday living such as shopping, phone, internet, petrol, insurance, etc. While you are looking at the credit card pages I linked below, always check for any other “everyday” promos.
Then join the 5 main programs I recommend for eco-tourists as I will be concentrating on these when I post special promos. These programs have the best redemption levels to places where people usually want to go birding and offer the best promos throughout the year.
Asians will have a lot of choices as it seems that the main Asian based airlines have partners not only in all Asian countries but some have partners in Australia and the USA as well. The links below will take you to the airline’s credit card page. Also check on FlyerTalk in the airline’s forum as people will usually post any new signup bonuses there. This blogger specifically caters to Indians with mileage earning credit cards and he would be more familiar with that market.