Loyalty programmes unpacked

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For the frequent flyer, anything that would make the experience more comfortable, cost effective and convenient should be a worthwhile investment.

Business Traveller aims to get to the crux of loyalty programmes offered by airlines, hotel groups and car rental agencies, to ensure that you are aware of what is out there, how it all works and to help make every trip worthwhile for your buck. In this first segment (of three), we focus on airline loyalty programmes. It is important to know that different airlines belong to different alliances, and there are individual frequent fl ier programs for each of the carriers. Though the alliance itself is not a frequent flyer program miles can be earned by using any of the carriers affiliated to that alliance. For example, if I belong to the SAA voyager frequent flyer program and use Lufthansa airlines, because they are part of the same alliance (Star Alliance), I will earn miles on my voyager account. As my loyalty points grow, not only will I perhaps become an elite member of voyager, I will also be recognised as an elite member in the Star Alliance group. The benefits to having a frequent flyer card extend to using it on other services that are offered by non-airline partners of the alliance or the carrier. We cover three alliances (SkyTeam, Star Alliance and oneworld) and then three frequent flyer programs (Flying Blue, SAA voyager and British Airways Executive) which represent each of the alliances respectively, to illustrate the benefits of belonging to such a programme.

SKYTEAM

The SkyTeam group, that launched in June 1999, has 384 million annual members, offer 13 000 daily flights from its 13 airline alliance, to 898 destinations, in 169 countries across the globe. The SkyTeam members include: Aeroflot (russian Airlines), AeroMexico, Air Europa, Air France, KLM (dutch Airlines), Alitalia, China Southern, Czech Airlines, delta Airlines (USA), Korean Air, Tarom, Vietnam Airlines and Kenya Airlines. SkyTeam will be including an additional six future SkyTeam members: China Eastern, Shanghai Airlines, China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Aerolinas Argentinas and Saudi Arabian Airlines. SkyTeam has three status levels offering various benefits pertaining to each level. These levels include: SkyTeam Frequent Flyer, SkyTeam Elite Frequent Flyer and SkyTeam Elite Plus Frequent Flyer.

The SkyTeam frequent fl yer elite plus include: Aerofl ot Bonus Gold, Club Premier Platino, Club Premier Platino Corporativo, Flying Blue Gold, Flying Blue Platinum, Club 2000, Club Freccia Alata, Club Freccia Alata Plus, Sky Pearl Club Gold, oK Plus Gold, oK Plus Platinum, SkyMiles Platinum Medallion, SkyMiles diamond Medallion, SKYPASS Million Miler, SKYPASS Morning Calm Premium and Golden lotus Plus Platinum. There is no SkyTeam loyalty card, as a loyalty card is issued from each of the alliance airlines. The cards, however, work conjunctively with the affi liated members and offer more or less the same benefi ts. For that reason, the following grids will depict the SkyTeam status levels and benefi ts, and show the airlines, respective card names, and their affi liations to respective hotel and car rental agencies.

The SkyTeam members include: Aeroflot (Russian Airlines), AeroMexico, Air Europa, Air France, KLM (Dutch Airlines), Alitalia, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta Airlines (USA), Korean Air, Tarom, Vietnam Airlines and Kenya Airlines.

SkyTeam will be including an additional six future SkyTeam members: China Eastern, Shanghai Airlines, China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Aerolinas Argentinas and Saudi Arabian Airlines.

  • SkyTeam has three status levels offering various benefits pertaining to each level. These levels include: SkyTeam Frequent Flyer, SkyTeam Elite Frequent Flyer and SkyTeam Elite Plus Frequent Flyer.    
  • Aeroflot Bonus Gold, Club Premier Platino, Club Premier Platino Corporativo, Flying Blue Gold (except U.S./Mexico residents), Flying Blue Platinum, Club 2000, Club Freccia Alata, Club Freccia Alata Plus, Sky Pearl Club Gold, OK Plus Gold, OK Plus Platinum, SkyMiles Platinum Medallion, SkyMiles Diamond Medallion, SKYPASS Million Miler, SKYPASS Morning Calm Premium and Golden Lotus Plus Platinum all fall under the SkyTeam frequent flyer elite plus.

BENEFITS OF SKYTEAM

ELITE

ELITE PLUS

Priority reservation waiting list

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Preferred seating

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Priority check-in counters

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Priority boarding at leisure

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Guaranteed full-fare-Y-class reservation on sold-out long-haul flights

 

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Access to airport lounges

 

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Priority baggage handling

 

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Discounted round the World Fare

 

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Fare passes (save costs with intercontinental flights)

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SkyTeam global meeting option

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Corporate global contracts

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FLYING BLUE

Flying Blue is a loyalty program within SkyTeam. There is a Flying Blue membership with four status levels: Blue (just membership), silver, gold and platinum status.

The Flying Blue alliance was launched by Air France and KLM respectively. The participating airlines that use the same frequent flyer program include:  Aircalin, Air Europa, Kenya Airways and Tarom.

They also have deals with car rental agencies and certain hotels (listed in grids below). As a blue member, one doesn’t really have benefits, but rather the incentive to fly more often so that you earn more miles and become one of the elite members. Below are lists of the benefits one can enjoy as an elite member.

BENEFITS

SILVER

GOLD

PLATINUM

% more miles for each flight you take

50%

75%

100%

More award ticket flights

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Try priority seating (10cm wider seats)

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Exclusive reservation service

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Access to lounges (for a fee)

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Waitlist priority

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Check-in and transfer benefits

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Priority airport standby

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Priority boarding

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Priority baggage handling

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Extra baggage allowance of 23kg

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Baggage protected with plastic

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Platinum Extended: boost your miles with every 115,000 miles you get

 

 

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Platinum for life: 10 consecutive years of membership

 

 

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STAR ALLIANCE

Star Alliance, launched in 1997, is the first and largest global airline alliance. “In order to become members, airlines must comply with the highest industry standards of customer service, security and technical infrastructure.”

They have 27 member airlines, 603.8 million annual passengers, fly to 1,160 airports in 181 countries and their members, business and first class passengers have access to about 970 lounges across the globe.

Like other alliances mentioned in this article, Star Alliance does not produce a loyalty card. Instead, each carrier company will have its own frequent flyer program and, therefore, its own loyalty card and structure. The aim of the alliance, therefore, is to enhance the frequent flyer program and opportunities to gain miles by working conjunctively with the alliance members.

The status levels of each frequent flyer program almost equate to about the same flight benefits, yet the deals each carrier has with hotel groups may vary. So for the purpose of this article, a breakdown of the similarities will be given, but it will be useful to visit each carrier individually for a deal that best suit your individual needs.

The member carrier companies of Star Alliance include: Adria Airways, Aegan, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asia Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Blue 1, bmi, Brussels airlines, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Egypt Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spain Air, Swiss Air, TAM, TAP Portugal, Thai Air, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.

Star Alliance has a Star Alliance Gold Platform and a Star Alliance Silver platform. Depending on the loyalty program you are on, your membership (if your status is high enough) will equate to either Silver or Gold.

BENEFITS

STAR MEMBER

STAR SILVER MEMBER

STAR GOLD MEMBER

Tier Miles exclusivity

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Network to spend mileage on

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Priority reservation waitlist

 

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Priority airport standby

 

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Priority check-in

 

 

 

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Priority baggage handling

 

 

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Priority boarding where available

 

 

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Additional 20kg baggage allowance, or one additional piece of luggage

 

 

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Worldwide airport lounge access

 

 

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 Here is an example of the types of benefits a frequent flyer program can offer its members from its association with its non-airline partners. The grids below are a representation of South African Airways (SAA) Voyager Frequent Flyer Program.

Miles are earned on the miles flown, the class of the ticket, the cost of the ticket, from purchases with non-airline partners and therefore can be spent on these things when enough miles have been accumulated. 

Benefits

BLUE

SILVER

GOLD

PLATINUM

LIFETIME PLATINUM

 contact centre

         

Voyager Newsletter

         

Appreciation Bonus Miles:2000 for every 10 000 flown SAA

 

       

Threshold Bonus Miles

 

2 500

5 000

7 500

10 000

Tier Activity Bonus Miles

 

25% Miles accrued

50% Miles accrued

100% Miles accrued

100% Miles accrued

Priority check-in

 

Business Class counter

Business Class counter

First and Business Class counters

First and Business Class counters

Lounge access

         

Preferential seating if booked on eligible fare

 

       

Excess baggage

 

10kg

20kg

30kg

30kg

Airport upgrade

 

 

 

   

Chauffeur service

 

 

 

   

Companion cards

 

 

 

 

 

 

ONEWORLD ALLIANCE

Although the oneworld® alliance does not offer its own frequent flyer programme, if you are a member of one of its 12 airline, alliance members which flies to 750 destinations and offers access to 550 airport lounges worldwide, then whatever points you earn on that program will be extended throughout the alliance.
The oneworld alliance mebers include:  American Airlines AAdvantage® Program, British Airways Executive Club, Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club, Finnair Plus, JAL Mileage Bank, Iberia Plus, LANPASS, Malév Duna Club, MexicanaGO, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Royal Jordanian Royal Plus or S7 Priority.

one
world status levels includes: oneworld Emerald, oneworld Sapphire and oneworld Ruby. Being a oneworld top tier member gives you a number of benefits across all oneworld carriers.

BENEFITS

RUBY STATUS

SAPHIRE STATUS

EMERALD STATUS

First Class priority check-in

 

 

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Business Class check-in

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Priority standby and waitlisting

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Boarding at convenience

 

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Lounge access

 

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Pre-reserved preferential seating

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BRITISH AIRWAYS EXECUTIVE CLUB FREQUENT FLYER STATUS BENEFITS

British Air who is part of the oneworld alliance offers these benefits to their members: 

BENEFITS

BLUE

SILVER

GOLD

Collect BA miles with BA or alliance partners

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Priority weight list

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Seating preferences stored and delivered where possible

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Meal preferences stored and delivered where possible

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Household account- pool miles with up to six people in account

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Collect BA miles with Executive Club partners

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Purchase BA miles

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Priority check-in and boarding

 

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Extra baggage allowance of two bags

 

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BA Miles Tier bonus

 

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Lounge access when flying BA and alliance members

 

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Worldwide lounge access at any time

 

 

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Use of British Airways First and other oneworld® First Class check-in desks

 

 

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Gold upgrade for two

 

 

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Silver partner card

 

 

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Priority reward card

 

 

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Concorde room card

 

 

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It made business sense for these carriers to join these alliances as their offering grows and they have more appeal to frequent flyers. The benefit of having alliances is that there is little need to have more than three loyalty cards in your wallet. You can clock up those miles a lot quicker and enjoy various carrier experiences. You also qualify for rewards, discounts and other treats as a valued frequent flyer.

SPENDING MILES WITH NON AIRLINE PARTNERS

Avis: Offer silver card holders: special rates, 10% discounted rates on international leisure activities and 100 bonus miles when you book online. Gold card holders: in addition to the silver benefits, you also get free membership of their Avis Express Preferred programme. Platinum card holders, in addition to the benefits of the gold card holders get 900km free with each rental.

Europcar: Offers silver card holders a 10% discount on bookings and gold and platinum card holders a 15% discount.

Hertz: Offer silver and gold card holders a 10%-15% discount depending on range of car hired. Platinum card members get, in addition to the above benefits, an upgrade if required.

First Car Rental/Sixt: offer silver, gold and platinum card holders between 10% and 25% discounts on bookings.

Mgallery hotel: Offer card holders the option of booking out at 4p.m. and platinum members and option of room upgrade.

NH hotels: Offer free upgrades to gold and platinum card holders and platinum card holders the option of a free upgrade.

Pullman: offer card holders the option of booking out at 4 p.m. on the day of depature. And Platinum holders get a free room upgrade.

Regus: offer card holders 10% – 20% booking discounts and award between 4,000-8,000 award miles for each booking.

Sofitel: offer card holders a room upgrade and the option of booking out at 4p.m.

 

SPENDING MILES ON NON-AIRLINE PARTNERS

  • You can rent cars with your Star Alliance Miles from Avis (8,800-12,200 miles), Budget (6,500-14,500) and Europcar (6,000-11,500).
  • You can book  a 2-night accommodation at Sabi Sabi’s Bush Lodge, Selati Camp or Little Bush Camp for between 134,000 and 147,000 frequent flyer miles.
  • You can receive between R250 and R1,250 spa vouchers at various participating spas for between 7,000 and 35,000 frequent flyer miles.

NB: All benefits are subject to the terms and conditions of their provider and the information supplied was correct at the time of going to print.

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