Latest news about airlines & their loyalty programs
Alaska Airlines yesterday further cemented its place as a member of the OneWorld alliance.
Following on from its codeshare agreement announced in July 2021 with Qatar Airlines, Alaska has further expanded its global reach with the announcement of a new codeshare agreement with Iberia Airlines, providing flyers with exciting and convenient travel options.
The agreement allows passengers on Iberia to book travel and easily connect to more than 40 routes throughout Alaska's network effective October 7, 2021. Iberia operates three weekly return flights between Madrid and Los Angeles, using Airbus A-330-200s (and a seasonal service between San Francisco and Barcelona). Iberia passengers can now connect to more than 20 additional routes on the West Coast and Hawaii served by Alaska Airlines, including Anchorage, Fresno, Honolulu, Kona, Las Vegas, Portland, Reno-Tahoe, Seattle-Tacoma and Salt Lake City.
The partnership enables Alaska's Mileage Plan and Iberia Plus members to earn miles on each other's flights while enjoying reciprocal elite benefits, including preferred seat selection; priority check-in, security clearance and boarding; lounge access; and extra baggage allowance.
Shangri-La's Golden Circle has extended tier status for all of its Diamond and Jade members globally. With this extension, all Golden Circle
Diamond and Jade members will maintain their current tier status and benefits until 31 December 2022.
American Express Platinum (multiple jurisdictions) members had the Golden Circle Jade status benefit discontinued on 31 March 2021, so this tier extension is definitely welcome news. Golden Circle members typically need the following stays and nights to qualify or maintain their status in the year ahead - Diamond: 50 Nights or 25 Stays or Jade: 20 Nights or 10 Stays.
But the Shangri-La status does not just have benefits by itself, but also, it has many associated perks which come with it, including:
1. Short-cut to Star Alliance Gold status - Shangri-La Jade-tier and Diamond-tier members receive instant KrisFlyer Silver status once they join up their Shangri-La Golden Circle and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer accounts. After that, Shangri-La Jade Members need to take 3 flights on Singapore Airlines, or just 1 flight as a Diamond member to receive KrisFlyer Gold status.
Once you have KrisFlyer Gold status, you have the equivalent of Star Alliance Gold status, which means you unlock the associated benefits on flights on Star Alliance members across the globe.
2. Enjoy Taj InnerCircle Gold status - Under the terms of a strategic alliance between Shangri-La Golden Circle and Taj Inner Circle, there is an automatic status match between the tiers of the programmes. Golden Circle Jade members match to InnerCircle Gold and Golden Circle Diamond members match to InnerCircle Platinum (and vice-versa).
While Taj InnerCircle is mostly an Indian hotel company’s loyalty programme, Taj also has hotels in various countries worldwide, such as the US, UAE and UK.
Shangri-La will also waive the cancellation charges regardless of booking channel for all guests, if cancelled more than 24 hours prior to arrival date. The hotels reserve the right to contact all inbound international guests at least 30 days prior to their arrival dates to confirm or cancel their reservations.
These changes are part of the Shangri-La Cares program.
The 2021 Skytrax World Airline Awards winners were announced this week. ....and the winner of the 2021 Airline of the Year goes to...Qatar Airways.
Singapore Airlines ranked 2nd, and ANA All Nippon Airways in 3rd place. Qantas was ranked 8th
Qatar Airways also received the awards for the World’s Best Business Class, the World’s Best Business Class Seat and the Best Airline in the Middle East.
Singapore Airlines, ranked No 2 worldwide, won the top accolade for the World’s Best Cabin Crew and was also honoured with awards for the World’s Best First Class, the Best Airline in Asia and the World’s Best First Class Seat.
ANA All Nippon Airways maintained its No 3 global ranking from last year and also won the World’s Best Airport Services award. Winning the 2021 award as the World’s Cleanest Airline is a particularly important success during the global pandemic.
Best First Class class was awarded to Singapore Airlines, with Lufthansa and Emirates second and third respectively.
The rankings for Best Business Class were identical to the overall rankings - Qatar, follwed by Singapore and then ANA.
Virgin Atlantic was named the World's Best Premium Economy Class airline, ahead of Singapore Airlines in 2nd place and Lufthansa in 3rd position.
For more details, or to see how your favourites fared, click below.
Cathay Pacific recently announced that it will integrate its Asia Miles program (used for award flights) with its Marco Polo Club
program (broader rewards and tier benefits). Over the coming months, Cathay Pacific will be rolling out a range of new offers –
and these will culminate in a refreshed program ("Cathay") in the first half of 2022.
We will provide more details as they are released, but for comparison follow the link to see an infographic summarising the Cathay Pacific programs as at June 2021.
Virgin Australia will join Qantas in offering free flights as an incentive for Australians to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Under the airline’s VA-X & Win promotion, there'll be one major prize of 1 million Velocity Frequent Flyer points, "dozens of free business class flights" as well as a range of other prizes.
The competition will launch later this year, once all Australian adults are expected to be eligible for the vaccine. You need to register to enter the Virgin Australia VA-X & Win Competition.
A separate competition will be launched for team members, with prizes including additional annual leave, Lounge memberships, and free business class flights.
Alaska and Qatar code-sharing
Alaska Airlines and Qatar Airlines have applied to codeshare on a number of routes operating in the Americas. Under the proposal, most routes are out of Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles with direct flights from Doha into those 3 "hub" cities.. The code-sharing opens up routes for Qatar into Mexico and Hawaii. For Alaska Airlines, it demonstrates its commitment as a new member of the OneWorld alliance and also provides a handy feeder into its US network. For more details, use the link below.
Qatar offer discount to Alaska MP members
Qatar Airways has launched a new coupon discount offer for Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members. You must book prior to 11 July 2021 and travel is to be completed by 11 July 2022. You can save $63 to $550 on ex-US itineraries depending on the class of service and whether a one-way or return.
- The promo code ‘MPMEMBERS’ must be entered at the time of flight search.
- The promo code is valid for bookings on all Qatar Airways operated itineraries worldwide originating from the United States only.
Promo code value on Economy Class tickets:
- $125 on return itineraries
- $63 on one-way itineraries
Promo code value on Business Class tickets:
- $550 on return itineraries
- $275 on one-way itineraries
Alaska Airlines is adjusting its partnerships as part of its intergration into the OneWorld Alliance. As part of that, Alaska
Airlines will cease its partnership with Emirates on July 31, 2021.
Through 31 July 2021, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members flying on Emirates on a paid ticket, no matter the class, will receive lounge access at the Emirates Business Class flagship lounge in Dubai International Airport (DXB).
There remains a small window of opportunity. Award redemptions on Emirates are available through July 31, 2021. For future travel, changes made to a booked award on Emirates on or after August 1, 2021, will require cancellation of the award and re-booking on a different Alaska Airlines partner.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given it is another OneWorld member, award bookings for Qatar will become available in August 2021.
Velocity has welcomed 7-Eleven as a new partner. Velocity members will now be able to earn points when purchasing fuel or convenience
items at any of the 700+ convenience stores located around Australia.
This will provide an easy way for Velocity's 10 million members to boost their points balance, in anticipation of when we can more easily take to the skies again.
Velocity members will earn:
- 2 Points per $1 on eligible 7-Eleven in-store purchases;
- 2 Points per litre on premium fuel at 7-Eleven; and
- 1 Point per litre on regular fuel at 7-Eleven.
Plus, Velocity members will earn 711 bonus Points on their first eligible purchase at 7-Eleven made by 28 June 2021.
For Velocity members to take advantage of this partnership, you will need to:
- Have your Velocity membership details handy;
- Download the My 7-Eleven app and follow the steps to link your Velocity account to their My 7-Eleven My Card;
- Make an eligible purchase from a 7-Eleven convenience store or fuel station and upon payment scan, your Velocity linked My 7-Eleven My Card.
Qantas announced plans on May 31st to giveaway a suite of mega prizes to Australians who get the COVID-19 vaccine, including unlimited
travel for a year. This is in addition to the announcement a week earlier that it would offer frequent flyer points along with travel
vouchers and status credits to Australians who get inoculated. It is understood the options being considered by Qantas include
giving people who get both their two COVID-19 jabs up to 1000 frequent flyer points, flight vouchers towards domestic and international
flights, and status credits, which allow people to move into high Frequent Flyer tiers.
Any reward would be available to people who had already received their jabs and the program would run until the end of 2021 when the vaccine rollout is due to be completed; the details are yet to be completed. Now, the national carrier has launched a further incentive scheme which it hopes will boost vaccination rates and help get state and international borders reopened permanently.
“We’re looking at having 10 mega-prizes, at least one for each state or territory, where a family of four can have unlimited free travel for a year on the Qantas and Jetstar networks,” CEO Alan Joyce revealed on Channel 7’s Sunrise program.
The trips would be in economy class and each of the ten winners. “In addition to that, the Accor Group have come on board and they’re offering one million Accor Points, which gives free accommodation at 400 hotels and resorts across the country.”
Joyce said the program would launch in July, "will include anybody that has already been vaccinated (and) will apply to anybody that's vaccinated through to the end of 2021."
“We have a vested interest in this, we want to do everything we can to ensure the borders domestically open and stay open and that we get international up and running,” he explained.
The airline has consistently said that it will require all passengers to be vaccinated when it restarts international flights beyond New Zealand.
More Australians vaccinated means more potential travellers making bookings.
While the moves may not be entirely altruistic, I think both companies are to be commended for “putting their money where their mouth is” and not just relying on Government to provide support for the ailing sector.
It’s understood that vaccinated Australians will be able to claim their rewards and enter to win a mega-prize through the Qantas app from July.
Don’t be surprised to see if this coincides with the launch of the Qantas/Accor dual points earning (crossover) capability that was announced in November 2020 as part of a closer strategic relationship between the companies. This too was scheduled to launch mid-2021 and will be the first partnership of its kind between an airline and hospitality group in the Asia Pacific region.
Qantas and Accor have announced a deeper partnership that will see mutual members of their loyalty programs being able to double-dip for
rewards points in the APAC region.
The newly minted crossover feature is scheduled to launch mid-2021.
While similar to other crossover programs (eg Marriott and both Emirates and United; Shangri-La and Singapore Airlines; Hyatt and American Airlines), it will be the first partnership of its kind between an airline and hospitality group in the Asia Pacific region.
Will it be an attractive feature? Read on for our thoughts.
Congratulations to QANTAS. Today is the centenary of its launch!
Originally the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service, it was born as an idea around Winton in Queensland and later moved to Longreach, although the company was originally registered in Brisbane.
It has grown and evolved to become Australia's iconic international airline, with its headquarters now located in Mascot, near Sydney Airport.
QANTAS is a member of the OneWorld alliance, which it co-founded in 1998 with American Airlines, British Airways, Canadian Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
Congratulations to the management and all staff of QANTAS. To survive so long and be a leader in such a competitive industry is an achievement earned by many folk from the tarmac upwards.
Best wishes for many more and hopefully less tumultuous ones than 2020 which has been overshadowed by the covid-19 crisis and its impact on our world.
To learn more about Qantas' history, you can watch its official video.