Have there been some recent improvements to frequent flyer programs?

4 replies

aero-seat

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 23 May 2012

Total posts 178

Have there been some recent improvements to frequent flyer programs? In 2011 and 2012, we heard a lot of news about improvements to Velocity and Qantas Frequent Flyer because of fierce competition. Have there been some major improvements or new items for Velocity and Qantas Frequent Flyer?

180mis

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 20 Mar 2012

Total posts 85

One 'enhancement' that I am aware of is Qantas allowing an increase in family transfer points from 100,000 to 400,000 per year.

PLATY

Member since 19 Jan 2012

Total posts 138

 

Although not specific increases in defined benefits, both airlines have made discretionary offers of potentially great value to individual frequent flyers, presumably as a result of the ramp up of business class and ambient competition from VA over the last 18 months or so.

These include targeted double status credits offers from QF (for those lucky enough to get them), double miles and status offers from VA, earning status credits on reward flights for a period on VA.

Whether such promotions offset the downside "enhancements" (e.g. loss of online AnySeat Award bookings of classic award inventory and calculating point redemptions on route mileage not point to point. massi ve fuel surcharges on QF) depends on the perceptions and spend/travel patterns of individual travellers.

To be fair on QF, the EK alliance has resulted in extensive and substantial availability of reward seats on EK flights - a huge step forwards if you are willing to forego the opportunity to use your QF points status credit earning on any seat awards on QF flights.

Comparison with VA's alliance network for reward seats is well nigh impossible until they finally get partner redemptions onto their woefully awlful online booking engine (mooted for late next year). VA has some work to do (e.g. total lack of premium rewards on their partner airlines such as Hawaiian and Air NZ).

The QF and VA "enhancements" may also be seen in the context of other frequent flyer schemes as schedules, aircraft types, and service quality improve on alternative airlines/schemes.

For example, Malaysian, on which 51,000 pts (not 128,000 pts as QF) can snag you a one-way business seat to Europe with an A380 running KUL to CDG and mooted to come to MEL early next year (why transfer you Amex points blindly to QF or VA when they are worth typicaly 30% more on KrisFlyer or more than 100% more on Malaysian Enhance?).

The generally increasing fuel surcharges on QF also make comparisons with other schemes more stark where the latter have yet to include fuel costs - thus reward flights on QF can be snared via AAdvantage for far fewer points (unless short hops) and often with less cash surcharge: thus SYD-HKG one way in first on QF for 45,000 pts and about $100 booked via AA, not 90,000 pts and around $300 if booked through QF.

It would be nice to see:

  • On QF - a return to ASAs available online
  • On VA - full reward inventory online

Generally, we should expect declining benefits as airlines cope with burgeoning point liabilities and seek to get yet more profit from their "frequent flyer" operations.

Perhaps shop around the schemes - I for one have been surprised at ow much benefit a diversified approach beyond the obvious decision between QF and VA  can bring!

 

 

Skipp

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 20 Aug 2012

Total posts 35

How right you are Platy! As Virgin Australia and Qantas get comfortable again in a mainline duopoly the "enhancements" and the value of each frequent flyer scheme will further diminish.

There are many sectors of retail (particularly credit card companies) that are offering more and more (bonus) "reward" or frequent flyer points for goods, services or for signing up to credit (cash) card programs. Therefore as more and more people rack up more points than they have ever had before, this will be met at the other end with the lack of availability of redeeming them at current or past values, unless you are prepared to fork out a substantial larger amount of points!

As you correctly point out, both Virgin Australia and Qantas assume that the majority of Australians will almost blindly put their points into either Virgin or Qantas. However just a little bit of research shows (particularly for international flights) that other airlines frequent flyer schemes for which are just as accessible as our own provide substantially greater value!

I'd urge people to shop around to ensure your hard earned points are not wasted

TheRealBabushka

Member since 21 Apr 2012

Total posts 2,059

Hear hear!

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