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Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

SN

Brussels Airlines apparently does not much luck when it comes to Frequent Flyer Programs. It stopped its former program Privilege in late 2009 and merged it into Miles & More. They soon found out this program did not really fit the majority of its customers and introduced LOOP, a program that provided increased flexibility. But that will now be discontinued on January, 31, too – with the argument that Miles & More has developed further in the meantime. This is not entirely wrong, but it continues not to be an option for the infrequent flyer, who collects a few hundreds of miles per flight, which expire after three years – long before having collected the 35,000 miles required for an award flight within Europe. LOOP points can still be redeemed until January, 31, 2021. Points not used until then will expire, meaning notably that they can’t be carried over neither to Miles & More, nor to the Eurowings program Boomerang Club. Will we still witness a third program attempt by Brussels Airlines? Not this year, but maybe before the end of this decade.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

Sta

Clearly, the times when alliances were growing significantly are over for all alliances. But Star Alliance, still the largest one, actually lost two of its members – Avianca Brasil and Adria Airways – in 2019 as they went bankrupt. And 2020 could well bring another, much bigger casualty in the form of Air India. The airline is likely to collapse according to reports if its privatisation fails – and there are no signs that any white knight is waiting around the corner. As Star downsizes due to such airline failures, this sets it apart from the other alliances, which see some member movement due to strategic changes. At oneworld, for instance, Royal Air Maroc will be joining in late March – though that will not compensate for the loss of LATAM, leaving the alliance on September 30.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

SK-Six

SAS’ EuroBonus continues to be a safe bet for car rentals, especially thanks to its recurring promotions: Rentals of at least two days with Sixt booked over the SAS website for rentals until March 31 yield at least 4,000 bonus points in the EuroBonus program. Higher car categories even earn a bonus of 6,000 or 8,000 points respectively. As reservations under this promotion need to be placed until January 19, it is definitely worth sparing a few minutes right now in order to think about any car rental needs for the coming weeks!

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

Hil

2020 starts in a good manner for Hilton customers: Through May 03, bonus points are awarded in its Hilton Honors program, both in function of the number of stays and of nights. Each stay entitles the member to 2,000 bonus points. A parallel bonus of 10,000 points is awarded for every ten nights. Depending on one’s profile, this corresponds approximately to a doubling of points. For instance, while you’d usually accumulate 15,000 points as base member for staying five times during two nights at a rate of 150 USD per night, this promotion would add 20,000 points to the balance. Another good news of the program is that members can now earn points for up to four rooms in the same reservation, rather than only two until now.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

AiM-ME

Collecting miles for everyday activities has become much easier in the Middle East. On one side, Emirates’ Skywards program launched an innovative app called Skywards Everyday, allowing members to earn miles across many partner categories in the UAE, with an instant credit of miles. On the other side, the Middle East version of the established Air Miles program with its many associated partners in the program has introduced new conversion partnerships with the programs of Emirates and Etihad. Previously, it already had a partnership with Qatar Airways, which has though become less relevant for most local markets since Qatar Airways had to stop flying there due to the political situation. While the Air Miles program is primarily targeted at local residents – for instance, high minimum amounts apply for converting points into miles of one of the partner FFPs -, Skywards Everyday definitely also allows occasional travellers to the region adding some miles to their balance during their stays.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

Acc
Accor has now formally relaunched its program under the name of ALL – with the big ambition to turn it into a lifestyle program with increased utility for everyday activities. While that development work is still in its early stage, some new earn opportunities have already been added, such as local services at Accor properties or Accor restaurant visits without staying at the property. It will be interesting to see how things will evolve from here, both in traditional areas – such as banking partners, an area Accor was always shy of getting involved in – and in new areas. But the good news is that all these enhancements will take place on the back of the same basic value proposition as before in terms of the core earn and burn opportunities rather than having misused that change for a program devaluation as it could have been feared from looking at other program makeovers.

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LH

While several airlines – though still by far a minority – have switched to a revenue basis with their FFPs, nobody seems to struggle as much as Lufthansa to find the right accrual rate. It was quickly understood that the initial accrual rate of 4 miles per EUR was not really sustainable in front of the high award levels at Miles & More and the rate has been adjusted several times since then, though on promotional basis and for certain segments only. As such, intercontinental Lufthansa Economy Class flights earned a higher rate of 6 miles per EUR spent since 01 February, which has now again increased to 7 miles throughout December. Flights to California and Texas even earn 20 or 24 miles per EUR. Premium Economy travel still earns 5 miles per EUR spent until the end of the year. It is though everyone’s best guess which rates will apply in 2020 – going back to the official 4 miles per EUR seems in any case not viable anymore. And customers are obviously eager to see such improved earn rates being extended to the other Miles & More carriers, including Swiss, Austrian Airlines and LOT. Interesting to note that no other major carrier having switched to a revenue basis – from Delta to United and Air France KLM – has ever touched their initial earn rate since being established…

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AF-QF

Air France/KLM and Qantas have started a full reciprocal earn/burn partnership in their programs Flying Blue and Frequent Flyer. This partnership beyond alliance boundaries makes a lot of sense as it helps both programs to overcome gaps in their coverage. For Flying Blue members, it used to be a bit tricky to get Down Under since the program had only Asian partners such as China Southern or China Airlines, which are clear second choices for flights from Europe to Australia – compared to the larger Southeastern Asian or the Gulf carriers represented in the other alliances. Since the respective demise of Malév and Air Berlin, Qantas has clearly been lacking travel options within Central Europe since all its other European partners from S7 Airlines to Iberia really locate at the edges of Europe. A welcome value addition for members of both programs!

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CX

The Far East tends to have some rather generous FFPs, but this usually comes at the price of a restrictive expiry policy. While most major programs in other markets now apply a non-expiry rule at least for active members, this has so far not yet been the case with the major programs in the Far East. Asia Miles‘ initiative to stop mileage expiry for miles accrued as of 01 January for members with an account activity every 18 months is therefore a very welcome development. Even for international members, it should not be too difficult to meet that condition given the large partner network. It remains to be seen how big the pressure will effect other airlines in the region – from Japan Airlines to Singapore Airlines – to follow the example of Asia Miles.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

2020

While you might still be wondering what the real good news for a frequent traveller like yourself will be in 2020, it will be difficult to top that one:

AZ

Happy New Year and enjoy each day – because YOUR life is not eternal!