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Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

As of 2022, American Airlines will simplify the qualification rules for its AAdvantage elite program. Instead of three parallel metrics, there will only be one metric taken into account: Loyalty Points. Each mile earned on American Airlines and on oneworld partners (incl. tier bonuses) equals one point, as do all miles earned on co-branded credit cards (excl. sign-up bonuses) and with dining and shopping activities. No minimum activity on American Airlines is required anymore. As a result, the annual thresholds to attain the different statuses will be (significantly) increasead, for instance from 75,000/100,000 miles for the two highest levels to 125,000/200,000 miles. In summary, this means that requalification for existing elite members will become easier than now (as the tier bonus earned on airlines is taken into account), but that the initial qualification becomes much more difficult – or probably out out of reach for the higher levels – if you don’t use a co-branded credit card. And that is where the problem starts for international members, which were, once again, completely forgotten in this consideration: In most international markets American Airlines serves, AAdvantage doesn’t offer any co-branded credit card. The ideas of “America First” have been well implemented in the minds of Americans, it seems…

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club announced several changes in its Flying Club last week, which all represent improvements. If you read between the lines, they may though also be interpreted in a sense that Virgin has given up any hope to win back the former customer structure: Lowered tier thresholds for 2022, tier points for bookings of Virgin Holidays packages, the possibility for existing status customers to transfer their upgrade and companion vouchers to other members – all these are strong indications that the program gets ready for other customers than in the past as its best customers, however without really knowing where to find them. The promotion running until March 31, 2022 for 20,000 bonus miles for two roundtrips in Premium Economy or Business Class might be a last attempt to defy the destiny…

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

First of all, we have to apologize: ITA Airways managed indeed to start its operations with a Frequent Flyer Program “in place”. Volare is a revenue-based program and for all expenses on ITA, you earn one point per EUR spent. But that is where the clarity stops. Redemption will only be offered as of March 01, 2022 and until then, it is everybody’s guess what these accrued points are worth. There is an elite program, but no details how to qualify for it – other than thanks to a large status match the program offers, including with many SkyTeam (and Alitalia’s MilleMiglia) programs. And ITA is now also member with SkyTeam and has purchased the rights to use the name Alitalia (it seems there were no other “bidders”…), what apparently leads SkyTeam to even not make the effort to update its website, where it continues to list Alitalia as member…

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

In the meantime, Alitalia’s former program MilleMiglia continues to live on. It has self-transformed into a program around a main partner, the booking website lastminute.com, which is also the only redemption partner in the program (next to a low value proposition for Avis vouchers). But interestingly enough, the program has kept three airline partners as accrual only partners: Air France, KLM and MEA. Besides that, the program has also maintained most of the former commercial partnerships and even extended the offer considerably, with a clear focus on the Italian market. At the same time, ITA’s Volare has no partners at this point… Of course it is good news that the program has survived – but the value of miles has nothing to do anymore with previous times: While one was able to use 80,000 miles for a Transatlantic flight in Business Class not so long ago, you now receive for 86,000 miles just a voucher for flight bookings worth a mere 250 EUR.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in News

Of course, Marriott Bonvoy is not the first hotel loyalty program to go down that road (rather one of the last major ones), but it takes nevertheless value out of the program. In a first step, award charts will be eliminated, but award pricing is promised to remain more or less stable for a transition period of one year. As of 2023, redemption rates will though become much more dynamic and aligned to current hotel rates, what will make it impossible to identify any sweet spots to take a superior value out of the program. While such move makes business sense from a pure corporate perspective, it might not really help to create loyalty though.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in CEO Blog

11 November 2021

Two major programs, American’s AAdvantage and Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club, have announced changes to their tier qualification rules over the last few days – pointing to diametrically opposed strategies. Who is right?

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in CEO Blog

ravindra

I’ve been passionate about aviation ever since I can remember and about FFPs ever since I started to think – yes, I am not one of these young bloggers, who were even not yet among us on 01 May 1981, when an idea of American Airlines was

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in CEO Blog

22 October 2021

Finally, travel in many markets is technically possible again, but loyalty benefits are no longer a main decision element. This makes it critical for loyalty managers to reconsider their mission and to redefine their internal positioning.

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

Today, Italian’s new state carrier ITA launches. And to understand what that means for frequent flyers is not the easiest exercise. While some former partner programs of Alitalia, such as Air France KLM’s Flying Blue, have formally confirmed the termination of the partnership with the latter as of today, nobody says a word about ITA. It seems therefore indeed that ITA is neither member of the SkyTeam alliance, nor has any Frequent Flyer agreement with any partner airline. If this confirms in the next couple of days, this would indeed mean that customers have currently no choice to earn any miles on their flights. ITA itself continues to mention on its website that a loyalty program is in its plans and that in any case, all this is the mistake of the European commission. Good luck…

Written by Ravindra Bhagwanani on . Posted in Archives

After an initial start as accrual-only partnership, American Airlines and Jetblue have now come closer by extending the partnership to the redemption side. Moreover, AAdvantage and TrueBlue members now also enjoy (basic) elite benefits on the respective partner airline. While this may not add much practical value for AAdvantage members – unless you are really based in one of Jetblue’s core markets -, that kind of pragmatic partnership approach is nevertheless pretty remarkable and would have not really been imaginable a few years ago. With Jetblue as strong partner on the East Coast and Alaska Airlines on the West Coast, AAdvantage has now the strongest geographical loyalty proposition in the US among all US programs.