A number of European airlines have started a double miles and points campaign to lure hesitant frequent flyers back into the skies.
Perhaps no sector has been harder hit by the ongoing corona virus crisis than aviation. With dozens of countries currently in lockdown or having protective border measures barring people entry, the number of international passengers is still not even half what it used to be in normal times.
Most airlines around the world are operating on reduced schedules that see them operating between 25 to 40 percent of last year’s number of flights, while some airlines such as Australia’s Qantas have halted international flights almost completely due to strict national travel bans.
As most companies around the world have closed their offices and sent employees home to work, the number of business trips has also decreased sharply.
Also leisure travel is only a fraction what it used to be as people stay home out of fear of the corona virus or imminent lockdowns and border closures, which were frequent occurrences during spring.
This means that a great amount of frequent flyers are not in a position to fly enough to protect their frequent flyer status, which not only is a major setback for them, but also for the airlines who miss out on the revenues of what normally are their biggest customers.
Most frequent flyer programmes across the world have answered this issue by extending frequent flyer elite statuses. Most airlines extended each and everyone’s status by a full year irrespective of whether the person has managed to requalify, while others such as Turkish Airlines only gave a six month extension.
With the corona crisis still affecting global aviation, it now leaves airlines with a difficult choice. Given that corona is likely to stay in our lives for at least one more year until a working vaccine has been readily distributed or herd immunity is reached, airlines face the decision whether or not to extend frequent flyer status for a second time.
At one hand airlines may be willing to do so out of fear of their most valuable customers walking over to their competitors once global aviation resumes back to normal, although it is also increasingly unlikely they will give blanket extensions for a second time without their frequent flyers contributing as well.
Although the odd airline might still give full status extensions or lower the usual requalification thresholds by a certain percentage, it is more likely that airlines expect their frequent flyers to do at least some flying and to earn their status – corona or not.
To entice their high-revenue customers to book tickets – and to help them on their way to reach enough miles and points to protect their status – a big number of airlines has now launched special campaigns in which you can earn double miles and points on every flight.
So far, three major European airlines have come up with such campaigns, and I would not be surprised if more airlines will follow suit given that it seems to be the best middle ground between helping frequent flyers protect their status and enticing them to actually book a ticket and fly again.
The first European frequent flyer programme to come up with the double miles concept was Flying Blue, the joint program of Air France and KLM. They already kicked off with this concept on 13th July.
On every Air France or KLM marketed flight which you take until 31st December 2020 you will earn double XP as well as double award miles.
For example, flying one-way in economy class Barcelona-Paris-London would normally earn you 10 XP (5 XP for each economy flight). Doing the same trip between now and 31st December would now earn you 20 XP with the current miles offer.
SAS Scandinavian Airlines
One of the airlines which has now followed Air France and KLM’s example is SAS Scandinavian Airlines. On all SAS flights booked before 21st October (with flight dates up to 31st May 2021) you will earn double the amount of EuroBonus points you would normally get.
Greece’s flag carrier Aegean Airlines has also gone on board with the double miles campaign idea. The offer is valid for bookings until 14th October for any Aegean or Olympic flight up to September 2021.
Although I’m grateful to Flying Blue for extending my platinum status despite not having earned enough miles to requalify, I don’t expect a similar gesture in the future.
Fortunately, I had some recent leisure and business trips last month which means that thanks to the double miles offer I’m already halfway there towards reaching the requalification threshold of my platinum status.
With my membership year starting on 1st September, it means I have 11 months more to get those 151 XP still missing, which will probably not be a major problem unless the whole world goes mad and into one giant lockdown.
My other status with an European airline is my gold status with Turkish Airlines’ Miles&Smiles programme, in which I need another 1,500 miles before the end of March to requalify – something which should also be easily possible.
I’m quite curious what the other major European airlines (British Airways and their Executive Club, Lufthansa/Austrian/Swiss/LOT and their Miles & More program) have in store for their frequent flyers as I expect that many more airlines will follow the example of the airlines mentioned above.
If you are a frequent flyer, I would certainly try to make use of these double miles bonus campaigns, as personally I don’t expect any airline to grant a blanket status extension twice to all their customers without receiving any business in return.