Tag Archives: airlines

Analyzing Airline loyalty programs

As a premise to my post I advise you to watch “Up in the air” with George Clooney. The movie itself is good and with a nice script. I’m not going to tell more about the movie…watch it 🙂

I fly a lot but never looked into collecting miles. So, I decided analyse the companies I usually fly with and what they are doing to keep me faithful. I usually fly with Virgin Atlantic, Aerlingus and BMI.

– Excellent service and good planes but most importantly they allowed me with not effort to register my previous flights (last 6 months) and collect points for these flights. Still waiting from an answer from their costumer service regarding collecting miles from a partner flight that changed in the last moment and the tool could not detect my reservation. They set the expectations that an answer can take a month… This is not a race so I’m in no hurry if it is solved. I’ll fly with Virgin as often as I can and the lounge is London is the best I’ve seen.

– I usually divide my flights in Europe between BMI and Aerlingus. I think their program can be very good, they are part of Star Aliance, have lots of partners and decent lounges. The program itself is divided in levels. The first level you can reach out fairly easily and as soon as you are there you get free food and that hooks you and makes understand the advantages of the program. However, they will not be my first choice… Why? I had many flights to claim in the last 6 months and their answer was.. “Send us the boarding passes”. I sent them all the reservation numbers, flight numbers etc. Reservations are not enough??? Can´t they find me in the system?? I was really chocked with their answer as I could not claim flights! I will only fly with them in case there are no Virgin Atlantic flights.

– They are the only company that does direct flights from Dublin-Lisbon-Dublin so.. I’ll keep flying with them when I go home. Now their loyalty program: It´s by far the worse! I registered for their loyalty program just after 2 transatlantic trips to the City of Mexico and San Francisco (over 3 years ago).  Back then, they also requested the boarding passes, that obviously I did not have and could not claim anything. I was very upset but registered anyway since I knew I would fly home and to other locations in Europe. Their point system is terrible, very hard to get to the next level and does not hook you at all. The level itself allows you “nothing” apart from lounge access (that they now sell to everyone!). Their range of partners is very limited. I also highlight that the dedicated area in the website is confused and poorly managed

I have to say, their loyalty programs also reflect the opinion I have from the brands themselves:

  • Virgin: Young and dynamic. They know their space and are moving fine
  • BMI: Re-structuring but still wit many old fashioned mechanisms, They need an update
  • Aerlingus: Still old fashioned, with nice people, but needs to be part of an alliance, be more dynamic and step up for the challenges of a new world.

To finalize, I know these companies try to position themselves differently but being low costs or not, a good loyalty program can hook you for good.