Skift Take

With the change by Lufthansa Group, travelers in Europe will have to adjust to the new normal in loyalty programs.

Just a month after Air France-KLM and British Airways set forth plans to launch revenue-based loyalty programs in 2018, Miles and More, the program employed by Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss, Eurowings, and Brussels Airlines, is unveiling similar plans.

Beginning on March 12th of 2018, members of Miles and More will earn award miles based on how much each ticket costs. General members of the loyalty program will earn four points for each euro spent, while higher tiers up to super-elite travelers will earn six. On Eurowings, Star Alliance’s budget carrier, and Brussels Airlines, travelers will earn five.

The U.S. legacy carriers American, Delta, and United have all moved to revenue-based programs over the last five years. Those programs, by comparison, generally yield five miles for every dollar spent for base-level members while elites earn up to 11.

Tickets issued by travel agents will also be treated differently in the system coming from Miles and More. Since a variety of factors including fees and currency (for example, credit card points) can come into play when booking through a third party, Miles and More simply says that “you will find out” what the earning rate is after the ticket is booked.

Bookings through Chase’s travel portal, which can often include a balance of credit card points and cash, illustrate this situation well. Currently, those bookings show up as “special fares” when tabulated with U.S. carriers, with the award and status earnings slightly adjusted from the typical revenue fare.

As Miles and More moves to its revenue-based program, Europeans seem to have few choices left for earning award miles through traditional, distance-based means. The biggest carriers in both competing alliances, British Airways (Oneworld) and Air France-KLM (SkyTeam), are both in the process of changing their programs, while low-cost carriers like Norwegian and Wow Air don’t have competing products. In America, Alaska Airlines held out and kept the distance-based factor in its loyalty program, which earned it a great deal of praise from the traveling base. In the EU, no carrier or alliance seems to be willing to carry that flag.

As a result of the upcoming changes and as the similar trend in the U.S. illustrated, Europeans are going to end up ultimately earning fewer award miles across the board —especially for those who book the lowest possible fare. Last-second or premium travelers, by contrast, may earn slightly more miles than usual, but those cases will be few and far between.

— Grant Martin

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Tags: loyalty, lufthansa, points

Photo credit: An Austrian Airlines jet is pictured. The loyalty program used by Austrian and other airlines including Lufthansa, Swiss, and Eurowings is moving to a revenue-based model. sloppyperfectionist / Flickr

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