CEO Blog

easyJet’s strange interpretation of a loyalty program

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in CEO Blog


10 November 2015

easyJet has announced a loyalty scheme for early 2016, Flight Club – which has nothing in common with a loyalty scheme. How ridiculous can this airline still get?

Flight Club will be launched in early 2016 and it is set to become the strangest loyalty program ever. Or revolutionary as easyJet calls it, what obviously leaves indeed a lot of room for interpretation.

To start with, the program is by invitation only for people flying at least 10 roundtrips per year or spend a minimum amount on tickets. easyJet will identify these passengers and invite them to enrol in the program.

But the real fun starts only after enrolment. Obviously, as a frequent flyer and member of a loyalty program, one would expect some decent rewards, free flights to start with, but since we are a member of a revolutionary scheme, maybe also something else. First surprise: the program offers no rewards. Yes, you are expected to give all your business to easyJet and in return, you get – nothing.

Okay, it is a bit unfair and too simplistic to put it like that. You get in return what easyJet calls recognition. But don’t expect lounge access, limo transfer or anything else you would probably define as recognition since such product features are obviously far from the easyJet world. Recognition through a free cup of coffee on board to stay in the easyJet universe? Would have been a nice touch, but unfortunately easyJet didn’t think of that. Well, probably, they did, but they still prefer getting a few pounds and euros out of you, irrespectively of your frequent flyer status.

All you really get is: Waiver of administration fee for flight changes (good – but mind the fare difference when you change your flight last minute!), possibility for name changes (that is obviously relevant as most flyers often change names) and a reimbursement of the price difference if the flight gets cheaper after booking (but be sure that this will never happen as no revenue management system will allow that!). That’s it. Enduring 10 roundtrips for this? Where you could already be at least close to get lounge access with a normal airline?

While true recognition-based programs can also be found in the (high-end) hospitality industry, such a concept really looks strange for a low cost carrier, struggling with product basics such as on-time performance.

easyJet looks like trying to melt the best of all worlds. Kudos to their initial idea to start a loyalty program as virtually all other low cost carriers have been offering already for years. But their execution has massively failed and after some initial PR hype about the program, it will quickly become silent about it, very silent. Of course, customers happen to fall into their definition of a frequent flyer will join the program as this will be the only thing for free with easyJet, but whether any single passenger will take only one flight more thanks to the scheme remains to be seen.

After 35 years of traditional Frequent Flyer schemes, it might have been time for a new concept. There are though doubts that precisely easyJet has found the answer. If Flight Club manages to create only the slightest loyalty for easyJet, that would be a true revolution. Time will tell, but sometimes predictions for the future are not so hard to make.