The following letter is in the January/February 2010 edition of Business Traveller Asia.
WHY SO COMPLEX?
While I do not travel as frequently as Mr Omar Khan (Letter of the Month, July/August 2009), I do classify myself as one of Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) “bread and butter customers” – just about four to six sectors a month. And these are generally medium-haul flights with the occasional long haul.
Like Mr Khan, I am appalled at the complexities surrounding its KrisFlyer redemption process.
We have all had to cut back during these difficult financial times, but I fail to understand why SIA seems hell-bent on making its redemption programme so unattractive that I, for one, am now flying Cathay Pacific whenever possible.
When a first-time customer buys a SIA Business Class ticket for a flight on a Boeing B777ER or Airbus A380, they pay a 20 to 30 percent premium.
However, as a PPS member, the penalty I must pay to upgrade from Economy Class to Business Class using KrisFlyer miles is 100 percent, hardly a benefit of being a loyal customer.
I enquired about using points to upgrade on a Singapore-LHR-Singapore flight recently. This route is now serviced only by a B777ER or A380.
The cost in miles: 180,000.
To do the same upgrade with British Airways (BA) or Cathay Pacific was 60,000 or 70,000 respectively.
Alright, so SIA has been offering a 35 percent discount if you upgrade via the telephone (yes, through the telephone and not the internet), but this still equates to around a 50 percent premium in miles over Cathay and BA.
It also ran a “Special Upgrade Programme” from April to June 2009, and I achieved a level one upgrade, missing level two by some 900 miles, which I achieved within 72 hours of the promotion finishing.
Would SIA entertain any discussion about making up the 900-mile shortfall? I would like to stress that I wasn’t asking for the miles for nothing, and I clearly explained that I was more than happy to pay cash or by points – the answer was an emphatic “No.”
Well, when the economy improves and I am again able to fly Business Class, I will no doubt spend some time in an SIA aircraft, but it will no longer be a “given” that I will fly with them.
I will achieve my mileage to maintain my PPS and obtain Solitaire status, then move across to Cathay Pacific, which, by the way, acknowledges its loyal passengers flying in Economy and which provides personalised service to these same travellers.
Would any other PPS/Solitaire members care to join me?
After all, loyalty is a two-way street, isn’t it?
George W Rowlands, Singapore
Singapore Airlines replies:
We would like to thank Mr Rowlands for his comments on the KrisFlyer programme.
Frequent flyer programmes differ from airline to airline, as do the mechanics of mile redemption. As such, direct comparisons between airlines on mile redemption terms and conditions may not be on a like-for-like basis.
All feedback is taken into account, however, and changes are being made regularly to our programme to better meet the needs of our customers.
For example, in September 2008, we introduced a number of enhancements. This included the introduction of a new category, the Full Award, providing access to more redemption seats and greater flexibility in planning itineraries, especially during peak periods and on popular flights.
In addition, for long-haul flights served by our Airbus A380, A340-500 and Boeing B777-300ER aircraft fitted with our latest products, more options were introduced for members to redeem miles. Customers are able to mix and match various award types across different classes of travel and to redeem one-way travel at 50 percent of miles needed for a round-trip ticket (compared with 75 percent of miles needed previously).
These, in addition to promotions introduced as part of KrisFlyer’s 10th Anniversary celebrations in 2009, are some of the benefits that have been introduced to enhance the programme as the number of members has grown over the years.
Another example is the “Special Upgrade Promotion” held between April and June, which Mr Rowlands highlighted, where members earn Special Upgrade Points for travel on top of the usual KrisFlyer miles.
As this was a once-off promotional activity, applicable terms and conditions had to be enforced strictly.
We would like to assure Mr Rowlands and all our loyal customers that their patronage is highly valued and feedback is taken into account in ongoing reviews of our marketing initiatives.
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