Executive Traveller exclusive
Air New Zealand is considering adding a top-rung Elite Plus tier, along with lifetime status at lower tiers, in a raft of changes to its Airpoints loyalty program.
Other benefits being proposed for high flyers include discounted upgrade offers, immediate confirmation of upgrade requests and even a seperate lounge for Elite and Elite Plus members.
The airline has floated these options in a survey sent to selected Airpoints Elite-grade members, among them several readers of Executive Traveller.
While concepts polled by airlines in surveys and focus groups don't always see light of day, they strongly reflect the airline's thinking simply by the fact that they have advanced to the 'customer outreach' stage and in many cases later come to fruition.
Airpoints Elite Plus
An Executive Traveller reader who received the Airpoints survey reported the big ticket item was the creation of an Elite Plus tier along the same lines as Qantas' Platinum One.
(This would however still rank below the invitation-only Elite Priority One tier, which is an equivalent to the Qantas Chairman's Lounge.)
The survey indicated a target range between 2800 and 3200 Status Points per year would be required to pocket an Airpoints Elite Plus membership, compared to 1500 Status Points to reach today's Airpoints Elite tier and 900 for Airpoints Gold.
But that hard-earned Elite Plus status would bring a range of practical benefits, with survey respondents asked to rate the appeal of "some benefits that Air New Zealand is considering offering as part of the Elite Plus tier."
Some of the suggested benefits included:
- free same-day flight changes for domestic, trans-Tasman and Pacific flights, regardless of the purchased fare
- immediate confirmation of all upgrade requests based on seat availability
- free exit rows and preferred seating
- 50% Airpoints bonus on flights
- free parking at the member's 'home airport'
- complimentary Elite status for the nominated partner of an Elite Plus member
- nominating a "friend or family member to accompany you whenever you fly with Air NZ, free of charge"
Lifetime status, added Elite perks
The survey also proposed lifetime status for lower Airpoints tiers, plus a series of fresh perks for Elite members such as
- immediate confirmation of upgrade requests for trans-Tasman and Pacific flights, based on seat availability
- 30% Airpoints bonus on flights
- discounted upgrade offers send out closer to the day of travel
- exclusive seating for Gold and Elite members
- separate lounges for Elite members
The Executive Traveller reader, who lives in Auckland and regularly flies to Australia, said that if Air New Zealand carried through on all the proposed changes "it would be a very positive step."
"I'd send more of my spend to Air New Zealand rather than splitting between Air New Zealand and Qantas to get top status on both (and aim for Qantas Lifetime Gold)."
Air New Zealand's General Manager Loyalty, Kate O’Brien told Executive Traveller that the survey is a result of "our new business strategy Kia Mau that outlines Loyalty as a second growth engine for the business."
"Part of this is looking at our customer proposition and ensuring it is in line with what our customers want and need from the Airpoints programme."
"To do this, we’ve sent out a survey to our Airpoints members to hear first-hand their thoughts on how we can improve the Airpoints programme and frequent flyer experience."
Flying with Air New Zealand? Don't miss our round-up of Australia's best Airpoints credit card sign-up offers, so you can earn Airpoints Dollars to book any seat on any AirNZ flight.