I’m not talking award programs here. There are a lot of award programs with which I have little to no familiarity (Egret Miles, anyone?). I’m well versed in all of the major ones, and some that are less well known (ANA Mileage Club, for example), but I have no desire to ever have miles in most airline loyalty programs.
But I’m talking about redemption options. Most routes and airlines that come to mind are pretty well known. Here are five that I almost always forget about.
You might even think with the “award deal of a lifetime” that Garuda offered on first class awards that they would be unforgettable. But I find them to be pretty much the most forgettable airline option when I’m looking for awards. Maybe it is because they don’t fly to the U.S., but this doesn’t really make sense, and Thai and Malaysian both come to mind when I’m searching for space.
Garuda flies between their hub in Jakarta and a number of European destinations. If you’re ever looking for options between Europe and Southeast Asia or Australia, they may be a good fit. They flew to the U.S. a number of years ago, but it is unlikely this will be the case again anytime soon.
This Indian carrier is another one that I almost always forget about. I was pricing out tickets to Delhi, and one that I thought was entirely on KLM had a segment where ITA stated “operated by Jet Airways”. Wait…who is Jet again?
Jet isn’t a very large airline, but they are larger than some of the major airline names that I see in the travel blogging sphere, including Cathay Pacific. If you’re heading to India, you can redeem Delta Skymiles or Flying Blue miles on this carrier.
The flag carrier of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one that I don’t really hear about or care about much. The airline flies to a handful of U.S. destinations. The last time I recall even remotely considering them for an award was when Flying Blue routed me to the Maldives (this was an exercise, not a serious booking query) on them, flying on an atrociously long 15.5 hour fight from LAX to Jeddah.
Given the general politics of the country and the situation with the missing journalist, I’m not sure I’ll ever have plans to fly them.
Are you aware that there is a Russian airline that has good coverage all across that large nation and is bookable with British Airways Avios with no fuel surcharges? Well, I wasn’t, either. At least for a while. I had a stint where I was highly interested in their network in eastern Russia. S7 is a great option if you’re interested in visiting Lake Baikal or Kamchatka.
But after that I started to forget about them. They are pretty good at falling off the radar. But if you’re ever interested in hopping around Russia, they are almost certainly your best option.
This little airline is yet another forgotten SkyTeam partner. I guess that is sort of a theme here. Did you know that Air Europa operates service to Miami from Madrid? I didn’t. They serve a few U.S. destinations, and a number of others in the western hemisphere.
Air Europa is even a full-fledged member of SkyTeam. I didn’t even know. They just don’t come up on my radar, ever.
I guess the takeaway is that SkyTeam awards don’t tend to be on my radar beyond Delta and its major partners such as Air France, KLM, Aeromexico and China Eastern. Given that pretty much all SkyTeam airlines (with the exception of Aeromexico, China Airlines, and maybe a couple other) impose moderate to high fuel surcharges, I rarely given them much of a look.
That’s not to say there isn’t some value to them. If you’re looking to fly between Amsterdam and Australia, Garuda Indonesia might be a fantastic choice. They have a beautiful business class cabin.