Air New Zealand relaunches Airpoints
Frequent flyers with Air New Zealand will soon be able to book any seat on any flight without restrictions, according to plans revealed by the airline to upgrade its loyalty programme, Airpoints. From November 16, all membership accounts will be converted into Airpoints ?Dollars', a new currency which will be like using cash (one Airpoints Dollar equals NZ$1) and which the airline says will make it easier, and cheaper, to redeem miles. For example, a return fare between Christchurch and Auckland costs 20,000 Airpoints, which equals 266.667 Airpoints Dollars, but customers will be able to buy a standard return Smart Saver fare for as little as 172 Airpoints Dollars. Sale fares will also be available for award redemption, driving down prices further. The airline also plans to reward travellers according to the ticket cost rather than the distance flown. For more details on the new programme, visit www.airnewzealand.com.
BA partners update
Members of BA's Executive Club should note they will no longer be able to collect BA Miles for stays at Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts after September 30, as they are no longer partners with BA. For stays before this date, members will be able to claim BA Miles retrospectively until 31 March 2005. Sixt car rental firm will also be exiting as a partner from October 30 ? for rentals up to this date members can claim BA Miles retrospectively until April 30, 2005. For more information, visit www.ba.com.
Star Alliance welcomes three new members
Frequent flyers with the Star Alliance network will soon have three new airlines on which to earn and redeem loyalty miles. South African Airways, TAP Air Portugal and Finland's Blue1 will join the alliance by 2005, boosting the number of members to 18. Blue1 will be the first regional airline to join. The other members are Air Canada, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, Bmi, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, Singapore Airlines, Spanair, Thai Airways, United, US Airways and Varig. The new arrivals follow US Airways, which joined Star Alliance in May. Members of any of the 13 frequent flyer programmes can earn and redeem miles across all alliance members. For more information about the Star Alliance network visit www.star-alliance.com.
Virgin Atlantic extends 20,000 mile bonus
Virgin is continuing its 20,000 bonus miles offer on Upper Class travel from September 10 to January 14, 2005. A full fare round trip in Virgin's Upper Class Suite earns UK members of the frequent flyer club a whopping 20,000 bonus miles on top of the usual flying club miles earned in Upper Class ? equivalent to an upgrade from economy to Premium Economy or a day's pampering at the Nirvana Spa. For more details visit www.virgin.com/reasons2. You must register for the offer on the website before you take your qualifying flight.
KLM joins SkyTeam Alliance
On September 15, the SkyTeam Alliance welcomes KLM as its newest member, giving members of KLM's Flying Dutchman the chance to earn and redeem miles across the six existing Skyteam airlines: AeroMexico, Alitalia, Czech Airlines, Delta and Korean Air, as well as Air France, which recently merged its loyalty scheme with that of KLM. Northwest and Continental Airlines are also expected to join the alliance shortly. These nine airlines operate flights to 630 destinations in 130 countries. Platinum and Gold Elite Flying Dutchman members will also have access to 400 lounges of SkyTeam members when flying with KLM or another SkyTeam member. Visit www.klm.com for more.
Delta frequent flyers can check out SkyMiles' ongoing promotions on the airline's website, including the following autumn offers: triple miles at the Radisson Plaza Resort Tahiti on stays of three nights (until September 30); double miles in any Melia hotels and resorts throughout Europe until November 30; double miles at Le Meridien hotels and resorts until September 30; double miles on Alamo cars (midsize or larger) rented for 3-14 days in the US and Canada. Until the end of the year, new members also receive 1,000 bonus miles on enrolment and 5,000 upon activation of their account. Visit www.delta.com for more offers.
KLM and Air France merger: latest update
The merger of Air France and KLM's loyalty programmes on June 1 has allowed travellers to accrue miles with both carriers, as well as on flights operated by Air France's SkyTeam airline partners. KLM and Air France plan to launch a joint frequent flyer programme in 2005, offering customers a streamlined service with a single membership card, but until then there are still a few discrepancies to be aware of between the two programmes. For example, the additional baggage allowance for Flying Dutchman Elite members is not applicable on Air France flights ? remember that when flying on multi-leg flights with both airlines. In addition, waitlist priority and guaranteed seating are not yet available for FD Elite members on Air France flights. For more information, visit www.klm.com /www.airfrance.co.uk.
Miles & More: phone a friend
Get busy emailing your colleagues and friends in September if you are a member of Lufthansa's Miles & More frequent flyer programme ? you could win up to 52,000 award miles for encouraging them to join up. For each new member you recommend via the internet by September 30, 2004, both you and your friend will earn 2,000 award miles. To qualify, your friend will have to be a frequent enough flyer to collect 3,000 miles with Miles & More in their first year of membership. All those who make recommendations in this period stand a chance of winning one of 10 sets of 50,000 award miles that Miles & More are giving away. That's enough for a free hotel stay or a Lufthansa flight within Europe, so get to work emailing those jetsetting colleagues. To enter, fill in the ?member get member' form available at www.miles-and-more.com.
A few changes in Qantas' frequent flyer programme: from October 31, SkyWest Airlines will leave the programme as a partner, so members will not be able to earn points with SkyWest after this date. Award flights may still be booked on SkyWest until the end of October for travel up to September 27, 2005. And, from September 1, Qantas has made some changes to its points earned in hotels outside Australia. Travellers will earn 1,000 points (previously 1,500) at InterContinental hotels and resorts; and 600 points (previously 500) at Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels and resorts. In addition, from October 1 you will not be able to earn points at Oakford properties in Australia. On the positive side, you can earn double points at over 85 Best Western properties in New South Wales for stays between September 15 and October 31. See www.qantas.com.au for more details.
Donate your spare points
Some airlines let you give points to a worthy cause. KLM's Flying Dutchman members can donate points to AirCares, which supports international relief organisation ?Right to Play' helping to stimulate physical and psychological development in refugee children (visit www.aircares.nl). Frequent flyers with both El Al and US Airways can help to send critically ill children on holidays of a lifetime by donating some of their points ? and El Al has pledged to donate 100 points for every 400 points given by its customers (www.elal.co.il). Icelandair also allows frequent flyers to make a one-off annual donation of up to 5,000 points by August 31 each year to its Special Children Fund, which enables children with long-term illness to take a dream holiday. Visit www.icelandair.is for details.
Aer Lingus scraps entry level tier
Members of Aer Lingus' frequent flyer programme who fall under the TAB entry level tier have until October 31 to redeem the points in their account, as the airline is abolishing the TAB level after this date. From August 31, only members of the Gold Circle Club ? now the lowest tier, requiring 3,500 points to qualify ? are able to accrue new points, and from this date no missing points can be added. It is not possible to purchase enough points to boost you into the Gold Circle Club, and if you do not have sufficient points to redeem against a flight or other reward your account balance will be forfeited.
Points can be redeemed against flights (eg: an economy return from Dublin to London Heathrow is worth 2,400 points), car hire, hotels, golf trips, insurance or health farm treatments. Gold Circle Club members will continue to earn points as normal, and these will automatically be transferred to a new reward currency on November 1. A new online membership site will be available in October. Aer Lingus is also scrapping its Visa Business credit card and plans to introduce an alternative ? more details to follow in October. Visit www.aerlingus.com for full details of programme changes.
Bonus points for booking online
Booking travel on the internet is increasingly popular and many airlines are awarding bonus points to travellers who book online. US Airways, American Airlines, Continental and United all offer 1,000 bonus miles for tickets booked on their websites, while United and US Airways also offer bonuses for your first online booking (until December 31).
Meanwhile, Emirates frequent flyer programme Skywards launched its online reward booking facility in August and will be picking 25 members at random who book their rewards online by September 15 to receive the miles they redeem re-credited to their account. Get claiming now at www.skywards.com.
Royal Orchid Plus goes paperless
From September 1, members of Thai Airways' Royal Orchid Plus programme will receive an email summary of news and offers in place of a mileage statement. The email will have links to the current issue online and reminders to check your account online. To receive the e-newsletter, make sure your email address is in your profile at ww.thaiairways.com. If you prefer to receive the printed format you must unsubscribe using the link on the email and printed newsletters and mileage statements will be sent to you, providing that you have at least one mileage activity in your account in the preceding four months.