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Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

Since Delta moved to a dynamic award pricing in its SkyMiles program by aligning award prices to revenue fares, the chase for awards has become quite a gamble. Sometimes you can find excellent, but more often – especially in Business Class – rather catastrophic value. Partner programs were still kind of a secure fallback option for flight awards on Delta, although these awards were obviously capacity controlled. Delta’s main European partners, Air France KLM and Virgin Atlantic, have now though adopted that dynamic award pricing for Delta flights in their programs Flying Blue and Flying Club as well – what does not mean that you should expect the same award pricing. Test bookings for the same flight show often considerable differences in mileage levels between the three programs – with different rankings depending on the flight. Flying Blue usually also applies much higher tax portions, while Virgin aligns the amounts to those applied by Delta itself. So, if your intention is to save miles towards that family trip on Delta in 2024 – impossible to tell you today which of the programs you should use. Probably neither of them and rather work with more predictable traditional award approaches with the constraints of capacity restrictions we are used to.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

If you intend to use a rental car for at least three days between September and November anywhere in North America, Europe, the Middle East of Africa, you should act now. For any such rental confirmed until August 17 with Avis at the special Etihad rate, Etihad Guest members earn a bonus of 20,000 miles, on top of the regular miles earned. This bonus can be earned up to three times. While you may not get an excellent value anymore out of the program by redeeming miles on Etihad, the program has still several interesting sweet spots with partner airlines and, when getting such gift, you might be less critical regarding the value you get in return.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

Some airlines made it definitely harder than others to stick to them during the crisis, by a mix of external circumstances and a failed communication strategy. Star Alliance member South African Airways was certainly such a case: On the brink of bankruptcy amid a very strict lockdown in the country, not many have bet on its survival at all. However, the airline managed to do so somehow, restarted its Voyager loyalty program and is now, very slowly, gaining altitude again. While it applies a (badly calculated) dynamic award pricing on its own flights – meaning that award levels increase as ticket costs increase -, it had no better idea than to increase award levels on partner airlines now as well. After all that, it would have been a smart move to pay back to customers by lowering award levels. Instead of that, you now have to pay 91,900 miles for an Economy Class award ticket within Europe (while you could fly from Europe to India for “only” 67,300 miles…) or 203,500 miles for a Business Class award ticket from North America to Europe. Can it get worse for what was once one of the most generous programs within Star Alliance? It is sad to say, but whether South African is still in business or not would basically make no difference to frequent flyers anymore.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

The merger between Choice Hotels and Radisson Hotels Americas was completed late last week. For now, their respective programs Choice Privileges and Radisson Rewards Americas will remain parallel and independent operations, but will certainly be brought together further down the road. This would extend considerably the number of hotels Radisson members can access, while Choice members would gain access to more upscale hotels. Members of the global version of Radisson Rewards – covering all regions outside of the Americas – are not concerned by these changes, except for the fact that it is not yet known what will happen to the current points transfer option between the two versions of the Radisson program, with a potential risk that access to each other’s network will be lost.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

If you are revenue-based on the accrual side, but work with a fixed redemption table, increasing award levels is kind of necessary when retail prices increase. But if you do this only every couple of years, it hurts more. That is what car rental company Hertz has been doing in its Gold Plus Rewards, increasing award levels in some countries by some 25% without advance notice. With an accrual rate of 1 USD = 1 point for base members, the cheapest, capacity-restricted 1-day rentals in North America now cost 950 points. In Europe, the price is 900 points and cheaper awards are still available in Australia/New Zealand (700 points) and Brazil (600 points). But in any case, if you are not a highly frequent and loyal customer to Hertz, crediting miles to a Frequent Flyer program of one of their many airline partners might be the better option anyway.