Video Production From the Road: Flying Tips 1

Comfortable travel is all about loyalty to airlines that are a part of larger networks and awareness of ever-changing benefits that accompany annual miles traveled. To take advantage of a variety of offerings described in more detail below, you need to start by becoming a member of one or more specific airlines. Joining is easy; it costs nothing, and you can do it online (and sometimes as part of an offer in which frequent flyer miles are given for your membership). Membership per se does not give you entitlements, but it starts you on the path toward them. If you choose membership on more than one airline, it is best to ensure that each is part of a different airline network so you have only one membership within a network.

As a generalization, if you travel 25,000 miles or more in a calendar year on the airline of your membership or any other airline within its network, you will be rewarded for all the money you spend with that carrier/network. (All major airlines – but not some smaller ones – are part of larger airline networks, such as Star Alliance or OneWorld; a quick web search will pull up the partners of your preferred airline.) You will be bumped from your airline’s class of Any Passenger into its status of Any Passenger Plus (APP) (nomenclatures mine), good for the remainder of the year and the entire next one. The benefits of being an APP are small but meaningful:

traveling with equipment, voices and visions, corporate video production

This is what a road-worthy light kit looks like.

  • On flights with the airline of your membership, you get to check in with the first and business class passengers, reducing long lines and interminable waits
  • Similar advantage going through security lines
  • Your checked luggage is coded with priority tags, putting them at the front of the line at baggage claim in your arrival airport and getting you on your way to your destination much more quickly
  • You can board the plane earlier than the rest of economy class passengers, which is significant for storing bags overhead before the space is gone
  • And most valuable, if the flight has upgraded vacant seats, you have a shot at getting them, depending on how many others are on the flight with your status and in the order of upgrade requests made by others within your APP status.

Once you’ve become an APP, you’ll want to stick with the airline of your membership in order to receive the benefits of your status for the remainder of the year and all the next year. However, sometimes that is not a feasible option: Your preferred airline might not fly where you need to go, or the ticket price might be way out of league with offerings of competitors. If that happens, choice number two should be flying with a partner of your preferred airline.

In addition to depositing the miles for your flights on the partner airlines into your account for the airline of your membership, the partners will award you with what I will call APP -1 (minus one) status. While some of the advantages your membership airline bestows will not be respected, others will be. Which advantages you will receive vary between airlines, and even within a single airline, the rules constantly change. For instance, until a few months ago, US Airways would mark the luggage of silver-status members (25,000 plus miles) of their partner United as priority, then they reversed that policy. Or Cathay Pacific will allow other Star Alliance APP members to check in through the first and business class lines, but Star Alliance member British Airways does not bestow that benefit. (Note that these observations were true as of the last time I traveled with each of these carriers – Cathay Pacific this month, and British Airways a number of months ago. They are constantly in flux!)

While disappointing to be treated as an APP-1 when you’ve grown accustomed to the benefits of APP status, it is important to keep in mind that it is a better option than simply flying as an AP! And name-dropping your status occasionally bumps up the benefits you receive if it is easy for the airline to do, even when this treatment is not written in its rules book.

flying tips, corporate video production, business travel, airport navigation

Taken from the window of the plane.

If your travel miles in a given year exceed 50,000, you have two options. Stay with the same preferred airline to become an APPP and get even more benefits, or choose a second preferred airline to get the APP status on two. If you choose the latter, you should ensure that your choice airlines are part of different networks, which will give you minimally APP-1 status on a wide range of airlines and APP benefits on your two preferred ones.

If you go for the 50,000 mile marker, the benefits are substantially better. Again, as a generalization, the additions include all the benefits of APP status plus:

  • Free access to the airline’s club while you wait for your flight to board. These clubs vary, but ordinarily have big and comfortable chairs for resting, free wifi, free snack food, and even free alcoholic (and other) drinks
  • A higher priority status for upgraded seats, when available
  • Check in on business and first class lines on partner airlines
  • Boarding immediately after first class and business passengers

The advantages improve again at the 75,000 mile marker, but they really get good at 100,000, where you earn lifetime benefits. Without those, you have to start re-collecting every year from scratch. Note that the benefits described above are different than frequent flyer miles accrued, which enable you to fly for free on non-blackout dates to different destinations using pre-set numbers of miles you have accumulated. For example, you can use 25,000 -30,000 miles on many airlines to fly round trip anywhere in the continental USA and 50,000-60,000 to fly to destinations like Europe. These numbers vary, however, depending on the airline, travel dates availability, and destinations.

Tune in on Friday for the 2nd part of this series on Flying Tips.

See last week’s Video Production From The Road report on getting from home to the airport onto the plan with as little pain as possible.

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3 Responses to “Video Production From the Road: Flying Tips 1”

  1. Video Production From the Road: Flying Tips 2 « Ellenfriedland's Blog Says:

    […] Ellenfriedland's Blog Weblog about the corporate and documentary video production in which I am involved « Video Production From the Road: Flying Tips 1 […]

  2. michael Says:

    this is a very nicely done & well rounded with the use of photos – I look forward to Friday for the 2nd part of this series on Flying Tips…

    • Ellen Friedland Says:

      Thank you for reading, Michael! Do you travel much for work? Are there any unique challenges you’ve encountered along the way?

      I hope you enjoyed part 2 as well!

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