News

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

TG

Yes, Singapore Airlines has a worse reputation; providing a mere 3-week notice that it is increasing (again) award levels, in its KrisFlyer program. Beginning on April 16, increased levels will begin for Star Alliance flights though “only” in Business and First Class. On the other hand, Thai Airways hasn’t increased award levels in its Royal Orchid Plus for some time and has provided members a fair 6-month advance notice. Award changes, applying both to Thai and Star Alliance partner flights, are coupled with other, more positive, changes in the program, all coming into effect simultaneously on October 01. But whether a first time generalised tier bonus of only 5 to 20% and higher credits at higher fares on Thai flights really outbalance the partially unreasonable increases of award levels, especially in premium cabins, is doubtful. Examples: A round-trip on Thai in Business Class between Europe and Australia costs now 170,000 miles, but will be changed to 350,000 miles. An Economy Class award flight on Star partners between Europe and North America will jump from 70,000 to 110,000 miles, while Economy Class award flights within Europe or North America will be reduced from 40,000 to 35,000 miles. Award flights in Premium Economy will be a new introduction to the Star Alliance award table, including for upgrades. You really need to have a very specific behaviour to find yourself in a better situation with these changes. While KrisFlyer will hardly be an alternative for Thai customers, there are certainly still other options around in Star Alliance.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

9W

The parallels are somewhat frightening: Etihad doesn’t stick to promised commitments and drops an airline, in which it holds a minority stake – while keeping the control over its Frequent Flyer Program, which is managed by a strong local team. That was the case with Air Berlin and is, unfortunately, repeating now at Indian carrier Jet Airways – just on a much bigger scale. Nevertheless, its program JetPrivilege has surprised us with an interesting innovation: Starting immediately, miles can be used for the purchase of regular tickets on a range of airlines, including on airlines, which are not partners in the program. Miles can thereby be used as partial or as full payment for tickets. However, the counter value is rather lousy: As such, a one-way international short-haul flight in Economy Class costs 26,000, 30,100, 36,100 or 64,100 miles, depending on the ticket price, when paid in full by miles. A one-way Business Class long-haul flight costs at least 316,500 miles, but usually rather between 500,000 and 900,000 miles. As seen in the case of Air Berlin that the stand-alone Frequent Flyer Program had ultimately no chance for survival without its airline, the new offer by JetPrivilege should be used soon before it’s too late.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

AS

Recently, Alaska Airlines admitted that it still struggled financially with its transcontinental routes, a late result of the take-over of Virgin America. They are now more than willing to change that by offering a long double miles campaign – available until the end of the year – in its Mileage Plan program. The campaign is relevant on all flights between California and East Coast cities, from Boston to Fort Lauderdale. This campaign is appealing because Mileage Plan is now the largest program in the US still operating on a mileage basis. If you combine this with all the other advantages of the program such as; the mostly generous structure, or the amazing network of partner airlines making the program highly relevant for overseas members, Alaska Airlines should indeed be considered as one of the best options on these routes for the rest of 2019!

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

Print

One could almost gain the impression that British Airways celebrates its 100th anniversary with painters only, putting attractive historical special liveries on its planes. But then somebody remembered that the customers are the ones having taken the airline to this milestone. As such, Executive Club members receive double miles on their next six flight segments with British Airways plus an additional bonus of 2,019 miles after the sixth flight. You still have time to complete these flights by the end of the year however, members must book by April 19. We’ve certainly seen more attractive promotions over the past hundred years, including by British Airways, but let’s be thankful that British Airways hasn’t forgotten its customers completely…

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

CZ-AA

Although China Southern formally left the SkyTeam alliance already back on January 01, not much has changed so far for frequent flyers since all partnerships with SkyTeam carriers continue to be in place, except for the one with Tarom. A first step towards the future has now been completed in the form of a mutual Frequent Flyer partnership in the Sky Pearl Club with American Airlines. As China Southern might not join oneworld nevertheless, it is definitely possible that it will stick to hand-picked partnerships with SkyTeam members bringing it a real added value. For instance, Air France KLM and Kenya Airways would be such candidates as well as Xiamen Airlines, in which they hold a majority stake. But it still remains to be seen what the impact of Qatar Airways’ new minority stake in China Southern will be.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

EY-ABG

Etihad Guest has started an exclusive car rental partnership with Avis Budget Group. Similarly to what British Airways did in the Executive Club at that level some time ago, it is though not entirely clear in what exactly this benefits members. Some weak advantages seem not to outweigh the disadvantage of having a smaller choice, as Etihad Guest has severed ties with its former partners Europcar, Hertz and Sixt, but also with the booking platform rentalcars.com. In the reality of a corporate travel environment where travellers have hardly a choice to select their car rental company, Etihad Guest becomes certainly a more difficult choice for many as a result.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

Mar
After the relaunch of the combined Marriott-Starwood-Ritz Carlton program under the new name Marriott Bonvoy last month, the feedback was not only positive. Some minor cutbacks, coupled with operational issues left some members frustrated as they had, from their individual perspective, little sympathy for any issues related to create such a mammoth program. If you are in to turn that page and look positively into the future – understanding that it will be difficult for most to do without the program given the enlarged footprint of Marriott -, the recurring promotion to earn double points from your second stay onwards might be the right opportunity to do so. The promotion will run from 19 March to 04 June and registration is required.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

JL-StJ

Non-air redemptions certainly provide limited value in most FFPs – but exceptions confirm the rule here, too: Japan Airlines provides actually a fairly decent value for such redemptions in its JAL Mileage Bank, at least compared to other programs. And it has now extended that option to its partner Stay Japan, a platform for rental vacations in Japan. 10,000 miles can be redeemed for a 11,000 JPY voucher. At least if redeemed properly, air redemptions still offer a superior value in general, but given the rather strict expiry policy in the program, this option is not so much a move of desperation as it would be in other programs!

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

Acc

As part of its continued internationalisation to become a truly global company, AccorHotels has announced that it would not only drop the French name of its current loyalty program Le Club AccorHotels, but also transform it into a wider lifestyle program, called Accor Live Limitless (ALL). Beyond some nice, but rather fluffy marketing statements, no details have yet been revealed though what this will really mean for members, in terms of the basic program proposition, but also what new added concrete benefits will be added. Given Accor’s overall business transformation, there is certainly potential to do something nice here, but for the time being, it is simply wait and see – and to keep a close look at the value of points. A concrete launch date has not been announced, but the new platform is expected to be up and running in 2020. Oh yes, ALL will also become the new jersey sponsor of football club Paris St Germain as of 2019/20 – whether this will finally stop its shameful performance in the Champions League year after year remains to be seen…

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

BA-Hot

British Airways’ Executive Club has not only started a partnership with yet another hotel booking platform, but also offers it in an interesting tweak. Members booking through Hotels.com can choose to earn either 6 miles per GBP spent – what is considerably higher to the other FFP partnerships of Hotels.com – or only half of that rate, but double dip with the loyalty program of Hotels.com, Hotels.com Rewards. With the latter offering one free night per 10 paid nights, it is fairly rewarding and doing with less British Airways miles represents therefore certainly a better value for regular hotel guests.