Frequent flyer programs are offered by a number of airlines as a way to nurture loyalty among customers. They aren’t all the same, however.
Determined by how many miles you travel or how much you spend with an airline, these programs allow you to earn points or miles that can be exchanged in return for flights, upgrades, hotels stays, car rentals or shopping.
If you travel often, then it’s really wise to sign up for a frequent flyer program. In order to help you pick the right one for you, here is a closer look at our (the BusinessClass editorial team’s) favourite loyalty programs and the pros and cons of each one.
Following their merge in 2005, KLM and Air France combined both of their frequent flyer programs (Fréquence Plus and Flying Dutchman) into brand a new program named Flying Blue. Today it is one of the most popular programs in the world thanks to its great availability of various benefits, its use by many partner airlines, and it being a part of the SkyTeam alliance.
It will be undergoing some changes this year, however – most notably, switching from distance-based to revenue-based, meaning that rewards will be earned on how much you spend rather than how far you travel. Membership comes in four levels: Ivory, Silver, Gold, Platinum.
Launched in 1993, the Miles & More frequent flyer program is used by a number of European airlines in the Lufthansa Group – such as Lufthansa, SWISS, Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines, and Eurowings – as well some that are not, including LOT Polish Airlines, Adria Airways, Croatia Airlines, Luxair, and Condor.
Passengers can also earn miles on all Star Alliance airlines as well as several other airlines and non-airline partners, making this a very attractive program simply for the opportunity to acquire miles. It will also become revenue based in 2018.
Using its own reward currency, Avios, British Airways’ loyalty Executive Club program is one of the few main frequent flyer programs to offer rewards in return for distance travelled rather than money spent. Avios are also earned by passengers of Iberia, FlyBe and Meridiana, and can be redeemed for a wide range of flights, hotels and other travel experiences.
While some good rewards are available with this program – such as 12,500 Avios for certain transatlantic flights – there is much that is not desirable about the program’s practices, like the huge surcharges for award flights.