The best frequent flyer programs in Europe in 2023!
If you are planning on spending significant time in the air, not joining a rewards and miles program is almost as grave a sin as wearing white to a wedding when you are not the bride. By now, most airlines belong to some frequent flyer association or have their own program. But it doesn’t stop there. Hotels, rental car companies, and even credit card companies offer alliances with different mileage or rewards programs by now. Keep on reading and find my favorite frequent flyer program in Europe you need to join in 2023!
In 2023 it’s finally time to reap the benefits of money spent on trips and take part in a new era of travel. So you don’t get lost in the sheer endless options of frequent flyer programs, I took the liberty of compiling a list of Europe’s best frequent flyer programs in 2023 for you.
If you have not yet signed up for a frequent flyer program do not despair – your past flights are not lost in any case. Most airlines will let you add your flights and other expenditures in retrospect and award you with the miles in hindsight. In need of more travel hacks? Check out my hand luggage packing tips!
KLM – Air France, Flying Blue
My favorite European frequent flyer program is definitely Flying Blue from KLM – Air France. The program separates its customers based on experience (XP) collected on past flights into categories EXPLORER, SILVER, GOLD, and PLATINUM. The more experience you collect, the more perks you can get out of the program. Gold status members can, bring one extra piece of baggage free of charge. They can also visit selected Airport Lounges and make use of the priority lines for Check-in, Security, and Boarding.
Sounds nice? But that’s not all! Members also collect miles for every flight. You can use the miles to buy tickets in the future. You can also browse the store and treat yourself to an item of your choice. Since KLM is part of the SkyTeam Alliance, you can earn miles across 18 different airlines.
Additional to racking up our miles on flights booked we also opted to have our American Express credit card linked with the rewards program. So, we rack up additional miles every month on our normal household expenses. Make sure to also connect your Flying Blue account to the selected rental car and hotel companies to collect extra miles.
The most famous non-airline partners of the Flying Blue program are Hilton Honors, Marriott, EuropCar, and Hertz as well as American Express.
Lufthansa – Miles and More
Lufthansa’s Miles and More program is one of the largest frequent flyer programs in Europe. It’s possible to earn award miles and status miles with 40 airline partners. Award miles can be earned for hotel and rental car bookings with many service providers, whereas status miles can be redeemed for flights and other travel experiences.
The program separates into Frequent Travelers, Senators, and Hon Circle Members. Similar to the Flying Blue program you accumulate more benefits, such as upgrades, free baggage, or lounge access with a higher status.
The Lufthansa Miles and More program is especially interesting for you if you are based in the DACH area. Additional to the airlines Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, and SWISS, you can reap the rewards of flights taken with Air China, Air New Zealand, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, and South African Airways. This wide selection of partner airlines lets you basically fly around the whole globe with the affiliated airlines of the Miles and More rewards program.
In my opinion, the most unique reward of the Miles and More program, is the Round the World ticket. In exchange for 180.000 miles, you can reap this special award and cross the Pacific ocean as well as the Atlantic ocean in up to 10 flight segments. If you are about to plan a world trip, make sure to become a member of the Lufthansa Miles & More program to enjoy this special benefit.
Two very famous partners of the Miles & More program are the Marriott hotel chain as well as the Get your Guide company, which allows you to book thousands of travel experiences all over the world.
Turkish Airlines – Miles & Smiles
The Miles and Smiles Program from Turkish Airlines offers similar benefits as the before mentioned programs of Lufthansa and KLM. The status cards differentiate between Classic, Classic Plus, Elite, and Elite Plus.
A very special perk this program offers is the right to receive a cabin upgrade. You can use this on two Turkish Airline flights for you and your accompanying person. Turkish Airlines is known to be one of the most luxurious airlines in Europe. In comparison to other frequent flyer programs, this is a very unique reward. Other airlines do not let you pick your own upgrades unless you book them in exchange for your miles.
Upon reaching the Elite status, you will be offered special services and amenities at Istanbul Airport. For everyone being based in and around Istanbul, choosing the Turkish Airlines program is probably your best bet.
Another one of my favorite perks of Miles & Smiles is the special sweet surprise you will receive on a flight taken on your birthday or wedding anniversary.
The airline program partners are similar to the ones of Lufthansa. You can choose between a wide of airlines all around the globe. Also, the hotel program partners are similar to the above-mentioned frequent flyer programs.
For people frequently headed to or from the UK or the US, I can definitely recommend joining the British Airways Executive Club or the American Airlines Aadvantage program. Both programs offer, similar to the above-mentioned schemes complimentary upgrades, extra cabin baggage, and access to airport lounges.
Conclusion – The best frequent flyer program in 2023
There definitely is a huge variety of excellent frequent flyer programs all across Europe in 2023. They all make flying more comfortable and luxurious. Which one you choose depends mainly on your home base airport and your preferred destinations.
If you are Amsterdam based, like us, joining the KLM Air France program makes the most sense. Germany-based customers will profit the most from joining the Lufthansa program. If you frequently plan on traveling to Asia, joining the Turkish Airlines program might be your best bet.
Since most of the frequent flyer programs work together with so many different partner airlines and other companies, you can easily travel all over the globe while still collecting miles.
Which airline’s frequent flyer program is the best in 2023 is therefore greatly up to personal preference. Most offerings are very similar to each other.
Make sure to read my post on packing your hand luggage for success in order to further improve your travel journey in 2023.