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Here it is: the most exciting latest news of Frequent Flyer Programs!

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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.