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.
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…
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!
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.
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:
Happy New Year and enjoy each day – because YOUR life is not eternal!
After the failed switch to a revenue basis by applying a too low earn rate factor, which has since then been partially corrected on a promotional basis, Miles & More will also adjust the recognition side of the program as of 2021. The introduction of a simplified status points system is nothing bad per se and follows closely the idea of Air France KLM. Required qualification efforts will roughly remain equal to today, although deviations might occur depending on one’s exact profile. But this obviously means that the program has missed a great opportunity to make the program more relevant since the qualification thresholds of Miles & More are today among the highest in the industry. A new major restriction will though be that half of all required status points will need to be collected on the Lufthansa Group/Miles & More core airlines. The duration of the status will be cut to one year (as in most other programs) and a new lifetime elite status will be introduced. To become a lifetime Senator member, you’d need to earn 10,000 status points on the Lufthansa Group/Miles & More core airlines – what corresponds for instance to 667 long-haul segments in Economy Class – and to be a Senator or HON Circle member for ten consecutive years… The best news is though probably that their weird system of status stars – which had no other purpose than serving the egos of members as there were no benefits attached – will be buried as part of the makeover. Star points will thereby be converted into qualifying points in order to count towards life status and customers having earned four or five stars by the end of 2020 will be awarded lifetime Senator status straight away.
While the main issue of the Executive Club are not really the award levels, especially not during off-peak periods, but rather the unreasonable surcharges on long-haul flights on award tickets, the current award sale might be nevertheless interesting. For bookings until November 21 and travel until April 30, 2020, all long-haul award flights on British Airways to/from London are discounted by 50% on the mileage side in Economy and Premium Economy. Flights in Business and First Class – where mileage levels are, however, comparably expensive as well – feature a modest discount of 10% only.
Bangkok Airways’ FlyerBonus might not be the most attractive program, but it has just concluded a new FFP partnership agreement with Emirates, what opens new opportunities: As a matter of fact, that partnership adds to existing partnerships with Qatar Airways and Etihad, meaning that members can pool points for flights on any of these three airlines into one single program. The program hence might be an option to consider especially for price-sensitive customers between Europe and Asia/Australia, which risk ending up regularly on one of these Gulf carriers and which don’t aspire any additional benefits through achieving an elite membership. It should be noted though that points in the FlyerBonus program expire after three years, even for active members.
The good news first: The JetPrivilege program is still alive, even if hopes for a resurrection of Jet Airways become smaller and smaller. Yesterday, it was though renamed into InterMiles in order to break also in a symbolic manner with its past. The program has, however, lost all airline partners in the meantime, with the exception of Etihad Airways, which continues to be the majority owner of the program. But the program has managed, other than Air Berlin’s topbonus back in time, to maintain the practical value of the program by also offering opportunities to redeem points. As such, the program has by now become mainly a booking platform for flights and hotels and therefore represents a possibility to double dip with traditional Frequent Flyer Programs.
Widely unnoticed in the Western world, Chinese platform Trip.com has quickly become the second largest online travel agency in the world. And it has no intention to limit its reach to its home market as the numerous partnerships with Frequent Flyer Programs demonstrate. And booking a hotel through Trip.com is now more rewarding than ever, since bookings until November 30 for stays until January 31, 2020 are awarded with bonus miles with most of its partner programs. Online bookings earn, depending on the program, double or triple points and bookings through the mobile app triple or quadruple. Combining these different promotional rates with the different base earn rates makes the choice of the right FFP though a bit tricky, but in many cases, the Asia Miles program is likely to come out as best option for this promotion. As an example, a 7-night holiday at a cost of 150 EUR/night booked through the app would earn some 7,200 miles here.