Skywards Changing for Bad or worse ?Back to Forum
FOR THE WORSE! Up until recently the Skywards website was somewhat lacking in information on the impact of the changes meant to make it into a “modern and more sophisticated frequent flier program”.
The redemption chart has now been published and (not surprisingly) it appears that it will require significantly more miles to get redemption tickets.
I am based in the Middle East and checked on three zones from the Middle East including East Africa, Far East and Europe (West). In all cases, the required miles for an award ticket has increased (for East Africa, by 35% and the others over 10%). And a 50% increase in the miles required for a redemption ticket from Bahrain to Dubai!
Once again, in my humble view, an airline taking advantage of it’s most loyal customers. If there are benefits to the traveler of these changes, I struggle to see them. I am using all my EK miles before 31 December to take advantage of lower redemption rates and the 10% online booking discount (offer lapses on 31 December).
In the current market, a typical airline practice of reducing benefits when they should be enhancing them I will definitely be looking for alternatives to Emirates with the likes of Etihad, Qatar Airways, Oman Air and others.25 Nov 2009
The whole change in the scheme is crystallizing. I tend to agree that, overall, the average traveller may well be worse off under the new scheme. This is a great pity and tends to fly in the face of economic reality. In other words, as economic conditions become tougher, airlines should perhaps be attempting to incentivise even greater travel.
Having said that, I guess EK are in fact doing that, albeit by different means. For example, they currently offer an extra 10kgs of checked in luggage on most routes.
One thing that has always intrigued me, when sitting in the Business Class lounge in DXB T3, is to see how utterly jam-packed it gets at certain times. Are these flyers REALLY paying full-price Business Class fares? Or are they Skywards Gold members? Don’t get me wrong-I love the programme and am sad that it is changing. But it does seem overly-generous at present and that may be the problem as far as EK is concerned.26 Nov 2009
I agree with your comments. It is a downgrade for most FF’s as there is now no mile for mile travelled. It is the only FF that I have seen where ‘rewarding’ means nothing for those on ‘flexi fares’, but a downgrade for those who prudently purchase saver fares. It is really Emirates way of screening out passengers from thier lounges, as they unsuccesfuly tried at the new Dubai lounge.
I think the advice given to make these changes is a huge mistake for them and there is no loyalty shown to ‘loyal’ passengers.8 Jan 2010
Apologies. Started a new thread when I should have used this one…
Having been an Emirates Gold Card holder and PPS club member for a number of years, I read with interest the comments on the new Sywards redemption and earning schemes. Rather than comment at that time, I decided to wait and see in practical terms the impact on earning and redemption.
Since January I have made a significant number of Business and some Economy class flights. I have also redeemed miles for my children to visit Dubai. The long and the short of it is as follows:
Earning miles becomes much more difficult with the new tiers on levels of Business and Economy class fares. I have flown on the Flex fares and received the full skywards miles allocation (similar to that of the previous scheme, which rewarded any fare). I have also flown on saver fares (both Business and Economy) and received a much reduced number of Skywards Miles. On average I have earned around 40% fewer miles than on the previous scheme. Why would I chose a costlier Flex Business fare when there is a cheaper Business fare available?
Now here’s the rub. When redeeming miles for flights, It is now very difficult to find suitable saver redemption fares, the end result is that that one has to redeem the miles for Flex fares at around a 75% premium to the previous saver fares.
Net result for me is that the new Emirates scheme is approximately 115% less attractive.
In summary, earn less and redeem more. As was mentioned in a previous post, there is no real advantage for frequent flyers utilising Flex fare tickets, the miles earned are no greater than the previous scheme. However, when redeeming miles, the lower saver fares seem to be more difficult to find, so even for the full flex fare paying passenger, redeeming miles becomes more expensive.
Due to the attractiveness of the previous scheme, I would consciously plan and time my trips to fly on Emirates. Now I am not so sure. Time to explore other options such as Etihad and poor old BA perhaps.29 Mar 2010
When it comes to their miles benefit, it is definitely changind for the worst. To only give 50% of miles for saver fares, is simply a cheap way of saying we dont want you. It also is a clever way of deleting those Gold Skyward members who enjoy this tier status, gained on the miles travelled, which will now not really apply unless they double their travel with Emirates. I wonder how many Gold member there will be at this time next year? A lot less I would predict.29 Mar 2010
I would like to get some information from you on how the free upgrade system works? I was on a flight yesterday from London Heathrow to Dubai, and the flight was overbooked so a number of passengers obtained a free upgrade. One of the passengers, was booked on Business class (like me) but is only a Silver tier level, was offered an upgrade to First class. I was surprised that such person would get such upgrade, whereas I, as am a Gold tier member and a very frequent flyer, would not. Would you please explain to how the upgrade system works? I am surprised because since obtaining gold level I have never been offered any upgrades or services of the such. While when I travel on British Airway (and I am only BA Blue level), I do get offered upgrades. It would be helpful to understand this so next time once can see if still to opt for Emirates or choose other flights that take better care of their frequent flyers.2 Apr 2010
Firstly, anyone choosing to fly with EK over Etihad or Qatar (other than where EK flies to a destination that EY or QR doesn’t) needs their head testing.
Secondly, why does it come as a surprise that EK, as a Dubai government owned entity, is having to significantly tighten its belt?
Thirdly, like all things in the middle east, nothing makes sense. Therefore, in a world where revenues and yields are down, other airlines would look to creative ways to boost revenue. Emirates however has obviously decided that it can make the same revenue from fewer passengers by charging those remaining passengers more. The principle applies in hotels and restaurants in the UAE, with prices having gone UP in the last 12 months rather than down.
The only thing I hope for is that passengers actually start voting with their feet, as I did, by choosing and using other airlines. EK was good, but it is not any more. Poor planes, poor service, poor product, awful airport and the redeeming feature of a sensible FF club now removed. RIP Emirates. Or maybe that is the intention, given the rumour that EK is now owned by Abu Dhabi (i.e. Etihad)?2 Apr 2010
Strong words here SimpleDXB, just bcoz someone like EK doesnt mean they have issue in their head ….
But Im with U that EK has fallen behind in all aspect then before.
I think the worst thing with EK is transit in Dubai. Is feel so stressfull the airport and the Lounge in Dubai is so overcrowded, I use to have a Gold Card but all this things has take me to other airlines.2 Apr 2010
The mysterious upgrade system was explained to me by someone who knew someone who knew someone else! They were told that when a flight is overbooked, the Gold Members are given priority. But the list usually appears in alphabetical order. In theory, the list should be checked by the supervisor, looking for the most frequent flyers, to reward their loyalty. But usually they cannot be bothered and just pick the first names on the list. Perhaps the silver member was a Mr. Anderson, and you are a Mr. Zapata!3 Apr 2010
I am starting to experience first hand the effects of the change. Apart from increasing the number of miles required for a reward ticket on a route I fly regularly (Bahrain-Nairobi) by about 50%, there never seems to be so called “Super-Saver” awards available – for example, checking between 15-30 July (First Class) there are 6 seats almost every day on higher priced “Flex” rewards but no “Super-Saver” seats. And I am simply trying to rebook a return flight on a ticket issued prior to 31 December last year when the concept of Flex versus Saver rewards did not exist. Skywards are claiming they cannot accomodate me because my reward is not a flexible one. Extremely confused…4 Jul 2010
On a slighltly different topic (and specially as BT is planning an interview with the airlines), I would be curious to know why Emirates has made it so difficult (almost impossible) for a customer to figure out on the Emirates website a link in case one wanted to complain or write to customer service department? If you see the website, there are no easy links available. One can keep navigating all the menu/drop-down menu but it will not be easy to find any link in case you wanted to write. You do not even know who to write? Finally one has to go to help menu and then look for “contact us”. In the drop down menu for category of e-mails you will find 4 options and none of them relate to feedback, complaint on customer service etc. If you write (under any of those 4 options and report a customer service issue they may not reply- as I experienced). They have given address of Customer Affairs department but no e-mail id is given. I have experienced writing to them. I had to ask my travel agent to find out the email id for the department to which I should write and he gave me e-mail id of their sales department. When I wrote to them then I was given an email id and then I could send an e-mail. They have replied to that e-mail but I wonder why an airlines would make it so difficult for a customer to write to them?5 Jul 2010
Cynically speaking, perhaps they are not interested in hearing our complaints. I have tried emailing – standard “from the manual” response. I have also tried the call centre – standard response. Would like to speak to someone at Manager level but I have been told by the Emirates call centre that their “Management” do not speak to the public (i.e. the people who contribute to their success). I would be interested to get Mr. Brian LaBelle’s feedback on why Emirates have changed their Skywards scheme in a manner that appears to have had a negative impact on many customers. But try and get hold of him to answer this simple question..5 Jul 2010
I have been pretty vocal about Skywards’ new programme and have to agree that, on balance, I am definitely worse off than I was before. But I have to admit their previous programme was probably the most generous on the market. This downgrade, in my opinion, still keeps it ahead of most of the rest. I have been upgraded on two of my last three flights with Emirates and I guess being a Gold Skywards member helps.
But where I differ with most of the other people in here is complaint/query resolution. I have only had outstanding service from the Dubai Gold Card service centre, via email. Often they get back to me by return of email and this can be as quick as ten or fifteen minutes.
One of the writers who suggested that the Dubai lounges will be far less populated by next year as Gold members are weeded out of the system is probably spot on. To retain gold travelling via a mixture of economy and business class has become much more difficult. But this may well allow Emirates to reconfigure these lounges to cater for a more discerning, less commoditised traveller.
I still feel very safe flying on Emirates and reckon their in flight service levels are among the best in the world. The true test of the success of the programme change will only be felt next year.5 Jul 2010
Emirates has now create a consumer market, and now they are getting more like the tradition airline like AF, LH, SQ, etc Making their FF program harder, higher fare …..
I can see that Qatar Airways and Etihad is using the same tac.tic as Emirates did in the first…this two airlines is nearly always lower fare then Emirates and other A* airlines……5 Jul 2010