Author Archive

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

BA

When British Airways made some vague announcement in late April that award levels in its Executive Club on partner airlines would change on May 30 without revealing any further details, the worst had to be feared. In the end, the changes are unilateral price increases, which remain overall rather reasonable, typically in the area of 3-5%, though a bit more on shorter flights. But maybe more significantly, British Airways leaves with that change its traditional path to treat partners in an equal manner to themselves as, so far, partner awards were aligned to the award levels on British Airways during peak periods. Now, it is always cheaper to use miles on British Airways than on partner airlines on routes where they may operate in parallel, such as from London to New York (American Airlines), Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific) or Helsinki (Finnair). The changes do not apply to these partner airlines also using the Avios currency, i.e. Iberia, Aer Lingus and Air Italy. Why British Airways didn’t opt for a more transparent communication from the beginning rather than creating that fear remains unclear.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

WS

Canadian low cost carrier WestJet is certainly one of the more interesting airlines to watch these days. Suffering on one side more than many others from the Max-grounding (forcing it to cancel certain routes such as Halifax-Paris), introducing its Dreamliners – with a fantastic Business Class product – on the other side, which enable it to expand quickly in the long-haul market. A current promotion is hence also related to the latter point: If you book a Business Class roundtrip from Calgary to their new nonstop destinations in Europe (London, Paris, Dublin) – or vv – by June 30 for travel from July 06 to September 05, you are awarded immediately Gold status in its WestJet Rewards program until February 2020. Sounds good since it is at the Gold level where the program really starts to become interesting (basic earning rate of 5% of the money amount spent, 75% tier bonus on partner airlines and valuable service benefits), but the normal qualification rules for Gold status require that you spend 5,000 CAD per year: Buying a single Business Class fare will get you at least very close to that level anyway, so this promotion might be a bit meaningless… The more interesting question arising from that is hence maybe rather how WestJet will evolve the program in order to cater at the same time for the short-haul low cost customer and the long-haul passengers, spending obviously much more per transaction without necessarily being more profitable… WestJet Rewards is probably one of the few programs having consistently improved over the last few years. Let’s hope that this trend will not be reversed.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

IG

As part of its program redesign, Air Italy now offers its two elite levels in its @MyAirItaly Club also for sale, at 200 EUR per year for the Silver level and 500 EUR at the Gold level. Although it uses the Avios currency as the programs of the IAG members (British Airways, Iberia etc.) and is partially owned by Qatar Airways, the elite benefits are limited to Air Italy flights. If you are a frequent flyer on Air Italy, the benefits can certainly be interesting and worthwhile – but in that case you’d probably qualify for it anyway through your normal flight activity without the need to pay extra for the status. So unless you’d like to bet that the benefits will be extended to the oneworld alliance (or at least to some of its partners) – for which there are no real indications – the offer might not be worth picking up.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

AF-Her

Since the recent change of the accrual logic, Flying Blue has already been one of the most rewarding mileage earning options for car rentals with Hertz, applying an accrual rate of 5 miles per EUR spent. Under a special promotion for reservations until June 30 and rentals until September 30, this rate is now tripled for rentals in Western Europe and North America. So, it is definitely a good piece of advice to plan car rentals as much ahead as possible to benefit of that offer. Rentals during the peak summer period from July 05 to August 15 are excluded though.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

LH

Lufthansa’s Miles & More program finds itself in unexpected legal troubles, after a member in Germany has started a lawsuit to claim a cash compensation for his outstanding miles, valuing them at 0.3 EUR cents per mile, which is basically the value the program makes directly visible through its non-air redemptions. He bases his claim on a German law, according to which electronic money can be converted into cash, suggesting that miles fall under that definition. This is vehemently denied by Miles & More – but nevertheless it has stopped all international conversion partnerships from other loyalty programs into Miles & More miles without advance warning, including from all hotel programs, but as well from other programs such as the one of Swiss supermarket chain Coop. They could probably support the argument that miles are electronic money. Whether stopping them in some kind of panic mode is though not kind of a confession by Miles & More that the claim is based on valid grounds, will need to be evaluated by German courts. But even if the member wins the case, there are certainly better means to redeem miles in the traditional way – meaning for flights – to achieve a countervalue, which is much higher than 0.3 EUR cents…

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

9W

While Jet Airways has now suspended all flights and chances that it will resume them dwindle with each day, the JetPrivilege program will continue to operate for now. As mentioned last month, miles can now also be used for flight bookings with many airlines as a mean of payment – and the very low initial value per mile has quickly been increased to make the proposition somewhat more attractive. But in absence of any perspective for better times, the question about the value you can get out of each mile might not be the right question to ask anymore anyway. Miles can also still be redeemed with the regular full airline partners according to the old conditions. By the way, JetPrivilege has, interestingly enough, not lost a single airline partner since Jet Airways’ grounding. However, if you are an elite member, tier benefits on partner airlines are not granted anymore.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

AZ

With all eyes on Jet Airways/JetPrivilege, it tends to get forgotten that Etihad is still involved in another foreign FFP, Alitalia’s MilleMiglia – with the same result for customers, i.e. a rapid devaluation of the program and there is always a fear that the program can cease to exist any moment. The future fate of MilleMiglia is certainly directly linked to the fate of Alitalia itself, for which the Italian government continues to look for an investor. A bidding deadline for the airline has just been extended again in absence of any acceptable offers – the parallels to Jet Airways are undeniable… And now Etihad punishes the last remaining optimists: Following the recent massive increase of award levels on partner airlines, award levels on Alitalia will be increased on July 01 across the board on international flights, with the strongest increases in Business Class. A roundtrip to the USA will jump from 80,000 to 140,000 miles and to South America from 120,000 to 200,000 miles. Okay, this is still less than what Etihad demands in its own Etihad Guest program for redemptions on these Alitalia flights, where above values stand at 240,000/320,000 miles (depending on the destination) for US flights and at 320,000/400,000 miles for South America… And it continues to publish award levels for flights such as Venice to Abu Dhabi, which is probably to remind of a more glorious past. Just for the purpose of keeping the memory alive: Etihad controlled the FFPs of Air Berlin, Alitalia and Jet Airways. A success story looks differently.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

BE

When it was recently announced that flybe was bought by a Virgin Atlantic-led consortium, it was clear that its accrual partnership with Avios would come to an end. This indeed happened on April 30 – but no alternative is yet in place. A partnership with Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club is yet to start while flybe also seems to work on the (re)launch of an own FFP, which still needs to see the light of the day, too. So flying today on flybe simply rhymes with earning no FFP miles – a scenario, which might not really help to alleviate the difficulties at the regional carrier. flybe offers though a co-branded credit card in the UK, which allows earning free flights on flybe.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

LY-AS

Since El Al lost its FFP partnership with American Airlines in 2014, it has remained without a US partner. This has become an issue, especially as El Al has now embarked on a huge expansion of its flights to the US, launching several new destinations between Boston and Las Vegas. As such, the announced partnership with Alaska Airlines as of July 01 – so far though only announced by Alaska’s Mileage Plan – seems logical, although the carrier might be too small to offer decent network expansion possibilities at all of El Al’s gateways.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

Acc

Accor is running a promotion called “We run the world” across several of its FFP partners this spring – but at varying conditions. So in function of your needs, you should check whether you’d better off with a triple miles offer such as in the programs of TAP Air Portugal or Aeroflot or whether you might be better off with quadruple miles for staying at least 4 nights, for instance in the programs of Turkish Airlines or British Airways. For each promotion, there is also a prize draw for a 2-night stay at an Accor property at the respective home base of the airline, what might influence your choice as well to which program to credit your points. The odds to win are obviously bigger in mid-sized programs than in the largest ones. So do some analysis before your stay as it could pay off! Depending on the program, the promotions end between 01 and 30 June (reservation date).