The current situation certainly deserves a look at what all this really means for frequent flyers, beyond the media headlines creating a hype around something not really worth mentioning at all. There are two very concrete positive fallouts from this: First, many airlines have officially changed the requalification rules for elite members, by extending the validity period or lowering the renewal criteria. If your program hasn’t done so and you are short of requalifying, it is certainly worth approaching them as well and ask them for an exception in view of the current situation – with a fair chance that such request will be granted. Secondly, as planes are empty, award space is widely available. There has never been a better time to redeem all your miles since you should fairly easily get what you want, including “impossible” things such as multiple award tickets in First Class etc. Even secondary airlines such as Finnair have announced that they would make 500,000 additional award seats available over the coming few months. Rather than keeping flights empty, airlines definitely prefer letting you redeem miles for these seats. And if your next trip takes you, for instance, to the US or France, just be careful that you don’t get shot or killed in a road accident respectively since the likelihood to die of such things is, for most of us, ways higher than getting killed by some virus. Oh yes, and a kind request to all airline CEOs: Please stop sending us e-mails informing us that you clean your planes. You didn’t clean them before?? #dontstopflying
But there will be inevitably another fallout of the government-imposed travel restrictions as many airlines were in a weak position already before the crisis and are unlikely to survive it. Think of any airline with a strong exposure to the primarily concerned markets such as China, Italy or the Transatlantic and you get the picture. While bigger airline groups like Lufthansa, Air France KLM or British Airways will be strong enough to weather the storm, Alitalia is certainly not the only carrier in danger of immediate extinction. Look at the likes of Icelandair or La Compagnie with their heavy/exclusive dependence on Transatlantic traffic or somebody like troubled Norwegian and you understand the challenge. Unless such carriers get massive state aids (what is not impossible in these extraordinary circumstances), many airlines may face extinction. This would not only result in a loss of any loyalty points with these programs – but also in a more consolidated market after the crisis, what won’t push the remaining players to make their programs more attractive. Ultimately, there can only be losers in this situation and it is the responsibility of each and everybody to counteract that negative tendency by applying a minimum of rationalism. #dontstopflying
The month of March marks TAP Air Portugal’s 75th anniversary and it clearly puts the client in the heart of its celebrations, ahead of exact calculations about the economics of its related offers. Two promotions for its Miles&Go members, running until March 31, are thereby worth mentioning. On one hand, each member can earn 1,000 miles per new member referred to the program for up to five persons – without the need that the new member needs to take a flight. This is interesting because members receive a discount of at least 10 EUR per flight on TAP Air Portugal by redeeming only 200 miles. Secondly, buying 20,000 miles at the price of 700 EUR earns quintuple miles, hence 100,000 miles. Although TAP Air Portugal recently increased award levels in its program in an unreasonable manner, this still allows you to get a Business Class roundtrip award flight with Star Alliance partners for 700 EUR for instance between Europe and the Middle East or West Africa, between North and South America or from Asia to South Africa. So make sure that such routes fit to your travel plans and you can basically travel in Business Class for the price of an Economy Class ticket thanks to that offer.
Indian low cost carrier Indigo was expected to launch a Frequent Flyer Program – and it launched 6E Rewards (6E is their IATA 2-letter code). In the FAQ section on its website, it acknowledges the main shortcoming “The 6E Rewards Program is not a frequent flier program”. So ,what is it? It is simply a co-branded credit card on which cardholders earn points (at an accelerated rate for Indigo purchases), which can then be used for the payment of Indigo tickets. Certainly not the strongest loyalty proposition in the market and a missed opportunity to shake up the somewhat lethargic Indian market. Oh yes, but if you are interested in the card nevertheless, don’t get excited too quickly: It is by invitation only…
If your airline has cancelled your short-haul flight and you decide to rent rather a car instead, many Frequent Flyer Programs currently offer interesting mileage promotions. Let’s take Miles & More as example here, where you can earn at least 2,000 or 2,500 bonus miles with Avis, Enterprise or Sixt for rentals of at least two or three days. Booking periods for these offers are often rather short, but the actual rental period may stretch well into the future. So, make sure to use such offers as earning miles becomes a bit more difficult these days when you fly less.