Financial Times: “British Airways backlash misses real point of air miles schemes”

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When I was reading Financial Times on an Etihad flight this past week, I came across a letter to the editor that was referencing an Avios article on the same paper earlier.

Financial Times British Airways backlash misses real point of air miles schemes

British Airways (an Iberia too) announced some drastic changes to its Executive Club program that would severely lower the number of miles earned on economy class and make redeeming for business and first class awards and upgrades more expensive (read my piece here).

You can access this Financial Time article here and below is an excerpt of it:

The satisfaction of watching points mount up is matched by the disappointment in spending them. The flights you want are often not available. When they are, airport tax and airline “charges” mean they can still be expensive — discounted rather than free. And, as with BA, airlines regularly change their programmes, which is usually bad news for someone.

We need a new approach to our air miles, one that causes us less upset. The first step towards calming down is to remember what frequent flyer schemes are for. Whatever the airline marketing may say, these programmes are not there to reward our loyalty. As Canadian academic Catherine Liston-Heyes wrote, the purpose of air-miles schemes is to persuade passengers to “distort their consumption patterns” — to get them to fly with the airline whose miles they are collecting when they might be better off flying with someone else.

The second step to being less upset is to remember that, whatever changes airlines make, if you fly for business, you are still getting a good deal from your points, even if your employer insists you fly economy (as mine does).

Conclusion

I have always said that all loyalty programs make very little sense if you don’t use them to YOUR advantage and if you are blindly loyalty to any one airline or hotel chain.

These programs would be here unless they are beneficial for the companies running them. The problem I have is that all is good as long as they are not considered “profit” centers, but rather in he supporting role promoting using the services of the company.

Once they become profit centers, miles and points are sold left and right to whoever is willing to purchase them. Suddenly the program finds itself flooded with miles or points that consumers are trying to use often unsuccessfully. The short them solution always seem to be a devaluation of points.

So, my point is that loyalty programs do make sense as long as you use them to your advantage (and not the company running them).

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