The reassuring information first: Airlines would usually not turn their focus to China to get inspired by best practices for their FFPs. And it can only be hoped for that it will be like that this time as well. The general hope for frequent flyers is that the initial months after the Covid crisis, when business will be picking up again, will be highly rewarding for them as airlines will use their loyalty programs massively to lure business towards them. However, with China as first major country having moved to that post-Covid status, nothing like that can be observed at all – it seems to be business as usual. But let’s hope – and there are fair reasons to do so! – that the cultural differences will prevail since China is indeed a market, where aggressive mileage promotions from loyalty programs are not very common place. For instance, the last mileage-based promotion at China Southern’s SkyPearlClub dates back to spring 2019…
It was the first full entry into an alliance of an airline in many years – but maybe the strangest one ever. As with many other airlines, Royal Air Maroc suspended temporarily all flights on March 21 – but joined the oneworld alliance nevertheless as planned on April 01, just without the usual PR noise. Until today, the website of Royal Air Maroc does not mention a single word how its Safar Flyer program was changed as a result, but most oneworld partners now list Royal Air Maroc as new partner in their program information. The differences between the programs are though considerable. For Business Class flights, one accrues up to 200% of miles flown with the program of American Airlines, AAdvantage, while the programs of British Airways and Iberia, Executive Club and Iberia Plus, turn out to be the most generous ones in Economy Class. On the other side, most booking classes in Economy Class are excluded from any mileage accrual in the program of Cathay Pacific, Asia Miles.
While free rebooking even the cheapest fare has become the new industry standard in the current context, some airlines are definitely more forward-looking than others when it comes to securing future business. Etihad customers with a reservation until June 30 can cancel their flight and receive a corresponding flight credit for future flights. If you actually use that flight credit for a flight booking made prior to September 30 for any new date until July 31, 2021, Etihad Guest members receive an additional mileage bonus of up to 5,000 miles plus a cash credit of up to 400 USD, depending on the travel class and destination.
Latam and Delta started their partnership as planned April 01, one month ahead of Latam’s departure from oneworld. The opportunity for LatamPass members resulting from that, to pool miles during one month for flights with Delta and American into one program, remains widely a theoretical possibility in front of the current developments, due to a lack of flights… LatamPass also slightly adjusted partner airlines award levels in March, but values literally only shifted by a few hundreds of miles – with the exception of, and against market trends, award levels in Business Class on short- and medium-haul flights, which increased considerably.
While most airlines were busy grounding most of their flights, Russian carrier Nordwind Airlines launched its first ever FFP, Nordwind Club. The program has three tier levels to serve the true frequent flyers, but also awards miles on charter flights as well as on its sister company Pegas Fly to cater for the leisure-type of travellers. However, earn and burn rates are not very transparent, making it a bit difficult to judge the attractiveness of the program. With Nordwind being based at Aeroflot’s main basis in Moscow Sheremetyevo, it remains to be seen whether this will really be enough to become a challenger to its dominating Bonus program – what should not be too difficult, given the latter’s weaknesses and limited attractiveness.