Airline selection when living in Sydney

Most airlines have frequent flyer programs to encourage customers to choose their airline, offering incentives like lounge access, higher mileage accumulation (which can be used for upgrades or free tickets), check-in and luggage priority, reservation priority, etc. It's thus beneficial to stick to an airline where possible.

My previous airline of choice was Eva Air (based in Taiwan), and I have achieved Gold card status (just after Diamond) where I have enjoyed the airline's quality lounge and priority check-in/luggage services. Unfortunately, the airline does not fly to Sydney but only Brisbane:
  • BR0315 TPE → BNE 3 5 ; 2230~0910
  • BR0316 BNE → TPE 4 6 ; 1025~1725
My most frequent destinations after moving to Sydney is likely Taipei, followed by maybe San Francisco, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, and Bangalore for work, and maybe other places around Asia and domestic cities and destinations in Australia (e.g., Brisbane, Melbourne) for leisure. Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia, may be the logical choice of airline for most people in Sydney (above image shows its hub/destinations), but unfortunately it doesn't have direct flights to my favorite destinations such as Taipei and San Francisco (last flight 2011/5/6).

In fact, the only direct flight between Taipei and Sydney is by China Airlines:
  • CI0051 TPE → SYD 2 3 5 7 ; 2355~1105
  • CI0052 SYD → TPE 1 3 4 6 ; 2210~0540
And direct flight between Sydney and San Francisco is by United Airlines:
  • UA870 SYD → SFO ; 1445~1101
  • UA863 SFO → SYD ; 2250~0625
Although there's plenty of connecting flights, I would rather forfeit frequent flyer incentives than withstand the extra time and effort (which can easily bump a 9h flight to 14+ hours).

Finally, it's worth pointing out the three global airline alliances:
  1. Star Alliances  -- includes United; Eva Air may become a member;
  2. SKYTEAM -- China Airlines and Virgin Blue may join in the future;
  3. oneworld -- includes Qantas.
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