FlyingBlue, the Frequent Flyer Program of Air France-KLM, just had it’s 10 year anniversary and their Director announced a streamlining program to make significant changes until 2018.
For all these desired changes to come into effect, FlyingBlue Management set a timeline of two years.
Most frequent flyer programs underwent structural changes that transformed the way customers earn&burn. In almost all cases to the disadvantage of the customer.
Airlines also increasingly operate their programs as a profit center and have partly spun them off to a separate company. Indeed the programs are moneymakers considering the vast options available to them such as mileage sales, selling miles to partners such as magazines/merchandisers and most of all levying fuel surcharges on customers who redeem their award tickets.
FlyingBlue’s director Frederic Kahane said at a press event that ‘big changes’ will be implemented until the first quarter of 2018. You can access a related news article at Les Echos here (in french).
Per Google Translate:
The year 2016 will be that of the early major works for Flying Blue Air France-KLM. The loyalty program, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year with 12 million members, should indeed undergo “very big change,” according to the director of Flying Blue, Frederic Kahane, who will start from the first quarter of 2016 and spread “to the first quarter 2018”.
“The 10 years of Flying Blue were an opportunity to take stock and set new ambitions, said Frederic Kahane. The objective is to improve greatly the satisfaction index, preserving the program’s economic balance. ”
The first priority will be to simplify the rules. “Many customers say they are understanding it,” admits Frederic Kahane. Other companies like Delta have already started this work simplification, “he says. The American company, Air France-KLM partner, has decided to replace the miles calculation system based on distance traveled by a new structure based on the ticket price. …
Partnerships with other companies to earn and redeem miles, will continue to grow. “At the end of the first quarter 2016, and we will launch a platform to book hotel nights with Flying Blue miles,” says the director. If 90% of the miles are still used for air travel, purchases of non-air products are growing strongly. “Today, we sell a product every five minutes. “Occasional travelers, with too few miles to deliver award tickets, and can use their miles.
However, the owner of Flying Blue also promises to improve access to award tickets, the main source of discontent. “We distribute every day the equivalent of 1,000 Paris-New York round trip, the equivalent of three Boeing 777”, defends Frederic Kahane. Nevertheless, 90% of members remain in Ivory, which offers no benefit and little chance of getting a ticket. “Since November, it is possible to use miles on Transavia said Frederic Kahane.
Indeed, Delta Airlines has changed their mileage and elite status earning options in a way that the customer has to fulfill certain criteria, including a minimum spend. There are exceptions for this for example through holding and using a Delta branded credit card but for some passengers this poses a challenge. FlyingBlue however has announced no such plans (as of now).
At the other end of the scale, the thousands of Platinum Members will also be better treated with the creation of a lifetime status for those having been ten years on, and a special line giving access to all services. By contrast, the passages in the intermediate category Silver will now wait until the Platinum and Gold Passengers have boarded. They do not benefit from priority luggage delivery and priority access to security and immigration controls.
FlyingBlue always had the Lifetime Platinum Status for those members that held it at least 10 years so I’m not sure what the news is. With taking benefits away from Silver Members Flying Blue aligns itself with other programs who also cut down their entry level status benefits in the past years, such as Lufthansa Miles&More Frequent Traveler (Star Alliance Silver) or British Airways Executive Club Bronze (oneWorld Ruby).
On a positive note, FlyingBlue will introduce the option to redeem flights on Transavia for those who are interested in this.
It is only a matter of time until each of these programs redesign their structure and to be honest it is required since they have to adapt to market requirements. They also react to the competition which could be seen when British Airways made changes to the Executive Club this year which was a very generous scheme as far as earning was concerned.
Flying Blue customers will likely be fine as ling as they hold Gold status or above. The times where the entry level members receive significant benefits are definitely over and the sooner we start to get used to this the better it is.