All the details have not yet been revealed, but Air Canada will relaunch its Aeroplan program on November 08. In a nutshell, the basic value proposition will deteriorate, whilst some new interesting elements will be introduced. Most award levels will slightly increase and accrual on Air Canada will move to a revenue basis in early 2021, but will also apply a low earn rate of 3 points per CAD, meaning that most clients will earn less points than now. On the redemption side, all fuel surcharges (incl. on partner airlines) will be scrapped, but a flat redemption fee of 39 CAD per person will be introduced for redemptions on partner airlines. Any stopovers will also be charged 5,000 miles extra. On the other side, a family account (which is not really limited to family members) will be introduced as well as, among others, new benefits for co-branded credit card holders and a new optional elite benefit called status pass. These passes can be handed to other persons, which will benefit of priority services for flights during one day, if applicable together with travel companions. In summary, the changes are certainly not black or white, but probably whiter when you reside in Canada and blacker otherwise. Given the current situation, it would have been desirable if Air Canada used the delay in the program launch to make the changes a bit whiter for everybody.
History books might call Qatar Airways the winner of the crisis. And this would not be by chance, but the result of a clear commitment to the market. In April, this airline alone accounted for 17.8% (!) of the global market share – more than the following four airlines combined! And the airline understands that it needs its frequent flyers. After several offers in the Privilege Club, the airline has now announced to stop the previous mileage expiration after three years for any active member, defined as a member with an account activity every 36 months. While many other airlines obviously work along the same lines (incl. Etihad, recently changing to that rule with a 18-month condition), changing to such a rule adds a tremendous amount of financial liabilities to any airline. Being willing to accept this in the current context – hence putting the interest of members above anything else – is, to say the least, highly remarkable. Let’s see whether this positive journey will continue as the program has nevertheless many remaining weaknesses to address, notably the overall lack of generosity of the program structure.
Although LATAM left the oneworld alliance earlier this year, it didn’t hurt LATAM Pass members too much, since benefits were widely maintained (except with American Airlines, which had left the program). While the earn/burn partnerships will continue to be maintained with the former partners, harsher times are ahead for elite members since they won’t receive benefits from oneworld carriers as of October 01. The new benefits already in place with Delta will probably not compensate for that loss for most international travellers. To ease that loss, LATAM Pass tier members will get a modest mileage bonus of 15 or 30% when flying on the former oneworld partners, except for flights to/from South America. But that bonus will only be offered on a promotional basis until December 31, 2021…
We only had to wait a few days until Lufthansa came out with a reply to the attractive promotion of Air France KLM. It is superior to the Flying Blue offer in one significant point, but inferior in all others. The better point is you get fivefold miles with Miles & More on Lufthansa flights versus “only” double with Flying Blue. But this will hardly be sufficient in order to stand out against Flying Blue in a direct comparison: The Miles & More promotion applies only to Economy Class on most European flights (the most important exceptions are Spain, Portugal, Russia and Greece) for up to eight sectors, it concerns only award miles, but not status miles and it runs through September 30 only. Moreover, a registration by August 31 is required (but flight bookings might take place later). It is also worth noting that the promotion is only valid with Lufthansa itself, but not on other program operators such as Swiss, Austrian, Brussels Airlines or LOT.
And again a few days later, British Airways came out with its version of a mileage promotion for its Executive Club members, standing somewhere in between Miles & More and Flying Blue in terms of overall attractiveness. Double miles are earned on the first ten segments worldwide flown on British Airways until December 31. Reservations for this offer need though to be done by August 31.