Garuda: new Diamond tier in rebranded Garuda Miles frequent flyer scheme

By David Flynn, March 17 2014
Garuda: new Diamond tier in rebranded Garuda Miles frequent flyer scheme

Garuda Indonesia will relaunch its Garuda Frequent Flyer (GFF) program this month, introducing a new top Diamond tier and online award redemptions as part of a rebrand to Garuda Miles.

However, the airline is also considering shifting the scheme’s earnings to reflect the cost of tickets rather than just the class and distance of travel.

The airline plans to unveil the changes “in the last week of March” according to Erik Meijer, Garuda’s Executive Vice-President of Marketing & Sales.

The overhaul comes in the wake of Garuda’s entry into the the SkyTeam alliance on March 5, Meijer told Australian Business Traveller.

“Partly because we are joining SkyTeam, we are in the process of changing over many of ours systems that manage our frequent flyer program” Meijer said, “which for one thing means we can finally do online redemptions.”

Under the current system, frequent flyers can redeem their points over the phone “but you still have to go to one of our offices to get a printed ticket” Meijer explained.

New Diamond tier

The new Garuda Miles will also see the debut of a top Diamond tier to sit above Platinum, Meijer revealed.

Both of those levels will equate to SkyTeam’s Elite Plus for lounge access and other primo perks, but Diamond will be geared more towards VIP-grade recognition.

“It’s recognition, it’s personalised service, it’s exclusive  events and it will also build on some of pre-flight facilities” Meijer told Australian Business Traveller.

But Garuda Miles’ new Diamond tier won’t be an easy get.

Will it require three times as many Tier Miles as its takes to reach Platinum, Australian Business Traveller asked Meijier?

“Much more, many more than what you need today (for Platinum)” Meijer said. “You’re not looking at more than a few thousand people in there, it’s going to be a very select group of people.”

Earning miles moves to spend-based model

Meijer also hinted at a rejig of the qualification levels for Platinum and Gold, but would not be drawn on the details.

“It’s going to change a bit, and the way you earn miles as well” Meijer said, although he added “this may not be as of the launch.”

“We’re looking at earning based on spend, not only on class, because for example there so many different subclasses of economy tickets.”

Might this see discount economy earning fewer miles than full-fare economy tickets? “We’re going in that direction” Meijer said.

However, he intends to retain the current split earning capability based on both miles and individual flights.

“It’s good for home market, for domestic flights” Meijer said. “For example there are lot of people whose families are in Surabaya but they work for two to three years in Jakarta, and every weekend they fly back home.”

“Those are like 100 flights a year on the cheapest economy class fares, and if you fly 100 times a year you want to be able to sit in the lounge!”

But Garuda’s EC+ card, which carries Gold-grade privileges and is sold to Indonesia residents for 1.5 million rupiah (A$147) per year, looks likely to get the chop.

“That’s one I am evaluating right now” Meijer said. “It’s a legacy product, when we relaunch there will still be an EC+ card but in the longer term I think that we’ll look for a different way of doing that.”

David Flynn travelled to Bali for the Garuda-SkyTeam media event as a guest of Garuda Indonesia

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

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