In talking with friends and family about frequent flyer miles, I find that many are neither aware that "their" airline is a member of a multi-airline "alliance," nor aware that this fact offers great flexibility in getting from point A to point B. They simply are not aware (or are only vaguely aware) that you can use one airlines miles to book flights on another airline. In fact, I myself recently had a bit of an epiphany regarding airline alliances.
For some time I've had the Chase Ink and Ink Bold cards (both of the blogs on my sidebar discuss these cards extensively and can offer links to the applications). I've accumulated a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards points that I intend to use to pay for an upcoming vacation. In essence, I'll be redeeming them for 1 cpp. That's the bare minimum value that can be extracted from them, but I didn't think about it too much because UR points can only be transferred into United Miles, Korean Miles, Southwest Points (ugh, Southwest) and British Airways Miles (ouch, taxes and fees).
Delta and US Airways tend to be my mainstay airlines because Charlotte and Atlanta are direct flights from my home airport. As a result, I've focused my non-flight miles earning on those airlines. Despite Delta's reputation (Skypesos) I've scored some nice TATL business flights on Delta. Their Business Elite service isn't all that bad when TATL coach is your frame of reference. US Airways has (at least in the past) been very generous with promotions and I was able to build a healthy balance there.
Due to my focus on these two airlines, my thinking about alliances has been "one way," i.e. what can I use my Skymiles and Dividend Miles for? Where you earn miles is where you burn miles, after all. Delta is a member of Skyteam, and that opens up Air France, Alitalia, and KLM for TATL travel. US Airways is a member of the Star Alliance (sounds like science fiction) and that opens up Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, and a number of others. But recently, in thinking about all these Chase points, I realized that the street runs two ways.
Previously I wasn't interested in transferring UR points to Korean miles because I have little interest in visiting Asia. But then I looked at Korean's award chart for Skyteam awards. There I found that TATL (US to Europe) business class travel priced at a mere 80,000 miles. That's 20K less than Delta. Apparently award booking with Korean isn't particularly easy, but it's looking like I may have to open up a Korean Air Skypass account. The only problem is that now I'm going to feel like a sucker when I use my UR points at only 1cpp value.