While it is safe to assume that the new state-owned Italian carrier ITA, which will become operational on October 15, will basically be a resurrection of Alitalia, but debt-free, there will be one major difference: The company won’t be allowed to continue Alitalia’s MilleMiglia program. This means on one hand that the new airline is likely to start without any loyalty program as it will technically be impossible to introduce a program from scratch in so little time. As ITA is expected to remain in SkyTeam, you should though still be able to earn miles through any SkyTeam programs. But even more importantly, all MilleMiglia miles will simply become worthless on October 15. There is no other way than trying to redeem them immediately – preferably on partner airlines – and hoping that the old Alitalia doesn’t care about its debts anymore and will let you redeem them without any restrictions. However, even redeeming on a partner airline might not be a full guarantee if you travel beyond October 15 since you will be holding a ticket of an airline, that won’t exist anymore.
Miles & More has introduced MilesPay, which basically turns miles into cash. While the feature is a small technology revolution, however the value proposition makes this a no-go: Similar to its non-air redemptions, Miles & More offers only a redemption value of 0.3 EUR cents per mile. Even with the fairly poor program proposition for flight awards, a considerably higher value per mile can be achieved with traditional awards. Should you nevertheless be interested in this feature, you should note that each transaction you wish to pay by miles needs to be manually activated upfront in the Miles & More app and such activation will remain valid for 15 minutes only – which is probably the best compromise that could have been found between security aspects and customer friendliness. Initially, this feature is limited to holders of a co-branded MasterCard in Germany, but the plan is to roll it out to other cards and to other markets in the future.
Emirates has just rolled out globally the Skywards+ packages, a paid annual subscription add-on in its Skywards program. The packages are offered at three different price tags and offer, in a nutshell, a 20% bonus on miles on Emirates flights earned, a 20% discount on award flights with Emirates, increased baggage allowance and a certain number of passes for lounge access. The lowest package comes at an annual price of 399 USD. As the price might be a bit high, members should make an annual calculation whether the package will really pay off for them. For instance, if you value miles at 1 US cent per mile, the base package should allow you saving at least 40,000 miles. This would hence be the case if you plan to redeem at least 200,000 miles in the year, but this threshold comes down by taking into account the bonus miles earned on paid flights and the monetary value of the other benefits. But it seems clear that these packages make only sense when you redeem a high number of points. And as the 20% discount remains the same for the higher-priced packages (but is extended here to upgrade awards), the business case for them becomes much more difficult. You should note that all benefits apply to Emirates flights only and exclude most notably FlyDubai.
If you exclude South and North Africa, one could almost gain the impression that Covid doesn’t exist anymore on the African continent. Airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines prove that and are, as a matter of fact, in pretty good shape. Ethiopian even continues its expansion and has just launched flights to Bosaso, the third largest city in Somalia. By taking Ethiopian to get there by September 03, members of its ShebaMiles program earn double base miles as well. Like in the good old days.
If you live outside of the UAE and plan to visit Dubai between 01 October and 31 March, you should consider choosing Emirates for your trip: In addition to the normal Skywards miles you earn, Emirates will grant external visitors 1 mile per minute of their stay in Dubai if they travel into town on Emirates. This is to celebrate the fact that the (postponed) Expo 2020 will take place in Dubai during that time, but you don’t need to actually visit the Expo to earn the miles. The bonus can only be earned during the first trip exceeding 24 hours, but is capped at 5,000 miles. And no need to apply any tactics to delay the departure of your outbound flight since the bonus is calculated on the basis of the scheduled arrival and departure times, not the actual ones…