Both British Airways and Iberia made huge steps in the right direction in May by announcing they would make a much bigger number of seats available for redemption on each flight to its Executive Club and Iberia Plus members – guaranteed. As such, each long-haul flight will have a minimum of 14 seats available for awards across all cabins. The exception is First Class, where seats are still available, just not on such a guaranteed basis and not necessarily on each flight. This doubles the earlier commitments of the airlines in terms of guaranteed award capacity.
MileagePlus members in the US have until June 22 to upload their Covid-19 vaccination card to their profile to be entered into the “your shot to fly” sweepstakes. Five members will win the Grand Prize of 1-year of free travel on United flights worldwide, in any class. The prize is good for up to 26 roundtrip flights for the member and one companion, with the requirement the tickets be booked on the same flight. There are also 30 first-place prizes for one roundtrip flight, also with a companion, are at stake as well. As all taxes and surcharges are included, these tickets are really at zero cost to members, as such, winners may have to declare the prizes to the tax authorities. Members, who are unable or unwilling to get vaccinated (e.g. for religious reasons) can still enter the sweepstake in a written form as well. Similar initiatives to encourage vaccinations have since then been launched for local members in the programs of Cathay Pacific, Asia Miles, and Qantas, Qantas Frequent Flyer.
While some might have had concerns whether it would really happen or not, Norwegian announced in late May it has fully brought back its loyalty program Norwegian Reward. Redemption is now possible again, however with one major restriction: Members can only spend a maximum of 500 Cashpoints (which have a cash value of 500 NOK, which equals roughly to 50 EUR) per 100 EUR/GBP of the ticket cost, but nothing for tickets up to 100 EUR/GBP. While the intention is obvious to ensure some cashflow for the airline, this means members won’t be able to reduce their backlog of points if they use Norwegian in the traditional manner as a low cost carrier and paying only corresponding fares. Norwegian calls this capping of redemptions a temporary measure. Let’s wait and see.
Is this a first sign of a closer partnership between the loyalty programs of Qatar Airways and Accor, in the form of a double dip partnership. Accor is well-known for this type of partnership and has it in place with the programs of Air France KLM, Flying Blue, and Qantas, Qantas Frequent Flyer. Both programs currently run a rare mutual promotion, whereby ALL members receive triple miles in Qatar Airways Privilege Club when flying on Qatar Airways. Reciprocally Privilege Club members earn triple points in the Accor program ALL when staying at Accor properties in Europe, the Middle East or Africa. The offers are valid for reservations made prior to June 30.
Jetblue is certainly one of the more upbeat carriers these days, notably gearing up for the launch of its first ever Transatlantic service from New York to London in August. This will obviously also give a new dimension to its TrueBlue program. While the program is very innovative it does not have major appeal if you live outside the US. It might be good news that the airline has also started a reciprocal FFP partnership with American Airlines, for the time being, though limited to accrual. It remains to be seen how this will play out between the two programs, but this means as a matter of fact that TrueBlue members will not only have the two daily Jetblue flights (one each to Heathrow and Gatwick) to choose from on the route, but also from the multiple daily flights by American Airlines. This partnership is the first of its kind between two independent airlines, where points are accrued on a revenue basis. This means that they share corresponding revenue data between them – what was considered a strict no-go in all other partnerships until here.