The Maldives are one of the places in the world with the least entry restrictions to its territory, reflecting the importance of tourism in the country. The Ministry of Tourism is therefore also behind a highly innovative new initiative: On December 01, the Maldives Border Miles program will be launched, under which members will get points with each border crossing. The program will feature three membership levels. Although full details and benefits are not yet clear, visiting the Maldives and returning there frequently is definitely becoming an even more attractive proposition, independent of the airlines used for that purpose.
In spite of the various efforts of hotel programs to gain your business, hotel booking platforms usually remain the more rewarding option for customers more interested in miles – especially for infrequent (or illoyal) hotel guests without any chance to make it to the elite levels of the hotel programs. Until tomorrow only, this is now even more true for bookings made with Kaligo, which offers double points or miles in all its (numerous) partner programs. The offer is good for stays until June 30, 2021. So act quickly and especially if you use a flexible/refundable rate, there is nothing you can lose here!
Among the various offers to ease the (re)qualification for tier members, Copa stands out from the rest. It has lowered the qualification requirements for the rest of 2020 by 70%, meaning that you can get Gold status in its ConnectMiles program – which also gives you Star Alliance Gold status – with only 13,500 miles. So if you happen to have recorded some flights earlier in the year to the program or can still somehow make this threshold until the end of the year, this might be the easiest way to qualify for Star Alliance Gold status – provided you are willing to close your eyes to certain weaknesses of the program. The requirement to fly a minimum of four segments on Copa to qualify for any tier level still applies though. All status miles earned in 2020 will also be carried over for the 2021 qualification year.
The partnership between British Airways’ Executive Club and UK supermarket chain Tesco (including its fuel stations) will end on January 18. It is/was not only one of the easy partnerships in the program with an everyday utility, making it – for non-holders of the co-branded credit card – easy to remain active in the program and hence avoiding the expiry of miles. But unusual for such kind of partnerships, the option to convert points into miles was even pretty lucrative: For 250 points, you can get either a cash voucher of 2.50 GBP or 600 miles. If you don’t behave completely wrongly, those 600 miles should definitely have a redemption value much higher than 2.50 GBP.
Nordic Choice Hotels, operating in Scandinavia, has joined other hotels with an interesting promotion, awarding members with 7,500 bonus points (equalling one free night) in its Nordic Choice Club after each five paid nights until December 31. But what is potentially even more rewarding is that each member completing five nights can enter a prize draw to win one entire hotel floor for one weekend night, which can be used for up to 20 persons until March 31, 2021. Breakfast is included to the offer and one floor is to be won at participating properties each in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. That’s what we call a rather smart use of empty hotel capacity! Any upcoming anniversary party, incentive trip or anything similar? Go for your chance!
The Virgin Atlantic program plans to relaunch into a wider loyalty program for the entire Virgin group, although this has been delayed, Flying Club members are still entitled to an interesting innovation in the current program – which is most likely to make it into the new program as well since it is introduced during this transition period: Redemption flights on Virgin Atlantic now earn tier points, hence providing members some ease to reach the next membership level. In each cabin, the number of points earned is the same as in the lowest fare class for paid tickets. Such feature already exists in some hotel programs for hotel award stays, but is unheard of in Frequent Flyer Programs for award flights paid in full by miles.
Although several other airlines would be in the position, surprisingly nobody in India has yet managed to fill the void left by Jet Airways at the loyalty level. While its former JetPrivilege program is still around in its rebranded form of InterMiles (but can’t really be called a Frequent Flyer Program with Etihad being the only true airline partner?), especially the unparalleled airline partner network of JetPrivilege is dearly missed until today. Full-service carrier Vistara might be closest to fill that gap, but still has a long way to go: Partially owned by Singapore Airlines, Club Vistara already had partnerships with Singapore Airlines/SilkAir and United. This has now been completed by oneworld member Japan Airlines. This is obviously still ways off the former 20+ partners across the world of JetPrivilege, but the main problem is the value proposition at Club Vistara, reducing the practical relevance of these and any future partnerships to close to zero. For instance, a roundtrip redemption flight in Business Class between North America and Japan on Japan Airlines with the usual capacity restrictions costs 560,000 miles. Five-hundred-sixty thousand!
Similar to some US and other airlines, Miles & More has introduced the possibility to purchase packages that allows earning additional miles on flights, within certain limits. These “Multiply Miles” offers represent though at around 2 EUR cents per mile only a slightly improved price compared to the regular purchase price of miles, what is far above the value most customers would get out of any award, especially given the high award prices at Miles & More. Hence this is an option that should to be used in very specific cases only (but makes more sense than the straight purchase of miles if you know that you’ll be flying anyway). The communication is not entirely clear, but the additional miles are apparently only earned on Lufthansa flights and not on other Miles & More airlines. The timing for introducing this feature might not be the smartest either as members would certainly have welcomed other means of being engaged other than through flying these days – and with a far superior value proposition. But if you are really in the business of buying Star Alliance miles, it might be a better idea to turn to Avianca’s LifeMiles program, where you can still buy miles with a bonus of up to 200% until September 25. This takes the price per mile to as low as 1.1 US cents.
Double points promotions might not be sufficient to get people to travel again, but they can certainly do no harm and can have an impact for those already back on the road. And the more simple the promotion is, the better. Hilton is therefore certainly worth mentioning in the hospitality space as it offers double points and double status nights for all stays in its Hilton Honors program until December 31. Registration is required. While double status nights might not be the most relevant thing in this shortened year, they are valuable for Hilton Honors members since all status nights earned this year will be combined with status nights earned in 2021 in order to determine the status for 2022. This promotion can hence represent a welcome head start for a better future for Hilton Honors members!
As often in the past, Hyatt is simply doing it better though: A few days after Hilton, it announced a triple points promotion across all its properties in its World of Hyatt program, from October 01 to January 04. If you hold their co-branded credit card and stay at one of some 350 resort properties, this is even increased to quadruple points. Next, any tier nights earned during the promotion period will also count for the new 2021 qualification year (as well as for 2020, of course). In parallel, the promotion to receive a kickback of 15% of the points used for redemption stays (25% for credit card holders) has been extended through January 04, with a registration required by December 01.