News

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

Acc-AF

The relationship between the two French travel giants Air France KLM and Accor has not always been smooth over the last few years – but that page now seems to have been turned for good. While especially US Frequent Flyer Programs pioneered the concept of a close cooperation with one major hotel program, these cooperations usually fail to win big traction, mostly because they are limited to elite members and offer only limited mutual status recognition and benefits. However, what Air France KLM and Accor have now introduced has simply nothing do to with all that: All members of Flying Blue now earn 10 bonus miles per 10 EUR spent at Accor hotels (2-5 miles at lower brands) while Le Club Accorhotels (the program will soon be rebranded into ALL) members earn 5 bonus points per 10 EUR spent with Air France or KLM. Members need to link their account once (through either of the two programs). The same accrual rules as in the partner program apply, meaning for instance that bookings from third channels are excluded for Flying Blue accrual with Accor or that only flights operated by Air France, KLM or HOP! are eligible for Le Club Accorhotels accrual.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

QF

Qantas has announced major changes to its Frequent Flyer – but not a move to a revenue basis, which remains unpopular in Asia Pacific among full service carriers. Some Economy Class awards have already decreased while all awards in premium cabins and upgrades will increase on September 18. At the same time, Qantas has drastically increased the number of award seats on its flights, reduced its (unreasonably high) fuel surcharges on award tickets by up to 50% (which means that they still remain too high!) and will introduce several redemption only partners over the next couple of months in the form of Air New Zealand, China Airlines, Air France, KLM and Bangkok Airways. Other enhancements include the introduction of a lifetime Platinum status and a tier program for members accumulating at least 150,000 points per year across all activities, including with non-air partners.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

TP

While it is good to see that TAP Air Portugal has left its decades of limited commitment to the FFP topic by implementing many changes, this has now seemed to turn into a hyperactivity, not necessarily with the best outcome for customers. As such, award levels for TAP Air Portugal flights were changed to a fully dynamic pricing in its Miles&Go program in late June without any advance warning. While it is true that prices might be lower than before as a result (and that availability is better), the reality is that you will see a doubling of most prices unless you book 6 months ahead and don’t mind taking a connecting flight through Porto when using a flight such as from Paris to Lisbon, leaving you enough time to see all the beauties of the city during your stop-over. In many cases, award flights on Star Alliance partners are actually cheaper – capacity provided, of course. They continue to be priced on a fixed award table. But since this table is actually one of the least generous ones within the Star Alliance, it tells everything about the new prevailing award pricing on TAP if the TAP levels are even above them…

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

WY

Oman Air will change the accrual logic for its own flights in its Sindbad program on August 01. The airline refrains thereby as well from moving to a revenue basis, but based the new system thereby on the brand groups of its fares. As a matter of fact, the differences compared to the current booking class system should be minimal, unless you use the cheapest Super Saver fares in Economy Class, where you’ll earn only 10% of miles flown going forward. While there is a certain logic to use branded fares, this only makes sense for customers booking over the Oman Air website since it is only there that these fare brands really become transparent. For any client using a different channel – what certainly doesn’t happen on an exceptional basis for a niche carrier such as Oman Air – it will be more or less a surprise how many miles are earned until one sees its account statement after the flight.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

PAR hotel Eiffel tower

As always, summer in the Northern hemisphere is the best time to rack up loyalty bonuses at hotel chains targeting primarily business travellers. So, if you are in need of hotel stays during the coming weeks, it is definitely worth looking for and checking out the different offers. They include, without being limited to, for instance (running at least until August 31, but often even longer): Double points at Hilton properties from the second stay onwards plus additional bonus points (Hilton Honors), 1,500 bonus points per stay of at least two nights at Marriott hotels (Marriott Bonvoy), individual bonuses per member at Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG Rewards Club), 3,000 bonus points per stay at Radisson properties starting with the second stay (Radisson Rewards), triple award points and double status points at VOILÀ properties (VOILÀ Hotel Rewards) or a one-time 20 USD gift certificate for a stay at a Best Western hotel (Best Western Rewards). Happy holidays!

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

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 Archives

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 Archives

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 Archives

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 Archives

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…