Skift Take

A new series of unbundled business class fares coming to market pushes many frequent flyer benefits to the side. For those religious about loyalty programs, the fares are worth avoiding.

Series: Business of Loyalty

Travel Loyalty News

The Skift Business of Loyalty covers the world of hotel, airline, and other consumer loyalty programs in the travel industry. Read more coverage of loyalty here.

It used to be that frequent flyers could heartily rely on business class fares for earning healthy rewards, including lounge access, premium meals, frequent flyer miles, and points for elite status. With a new crop of unbundled business class fares reaching the market, however, that’s no longer guaranteed.

On June 12 Emirates became the first international carrier to unbundle its business class fares, giving passengers the option to buy ancillary services like meals, lounge access, and seat selection for an additional fee upon purchase. At the lowest end of that spectrum of fares, travelers get neither lounge access nor the ability to upgrade to first class. Additionally business class travelers in that fare class also receive the same number of reduced frequent flyer miles that premium passengers in economy receive.

Lufthansa is also starting the unbundling process. In plans revealed for its 777X widebody aircraft last week, the carrier also shared that it’s going to start charging for seat selection in business class.

As airlines continue to disassemble traditional fare structures, frequent flyers will need to be extra diligent to ensure that the rewards that they expect continue to return.

— Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor

Skift Stories and More Expert Insight

Qantas Boldly Overhauls Loyalty Program, Resists Dynamic Pricing: Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia and a member of the Oneworld alliance, unveiled broad changes to its loyalty program last Thursday. The bulk of the changes center on adjustments to award ticket prices and the fees associated with those bookings. In a departure from the current industry trend, the carrier also chose not to adopt a dynamic model for its award ticket pricing.

Emirates Is First Major Airline to Launch Basic Business Class Fare: Emirates has fired the first salvo in the unbundling of business class fares. Now you can buy just the seat, with none of the other trimmings that travelers are used to with top-tier carriers. It’s a pragmatic strategy, one that gives more choice to travelers. The tension will now be maintaining that great luxury brand halo and still letting the premium cabins do the marketing hard yards for the carrier.

Tech Expands Hotel Guest Engagement Beyond Loyalty Programs: New Skift Research: Not so long ago, hotel loyalty programs were front-runners in design and innovation. Today many programs have gone stale, commoditization has wreaked havoc on the perceived benefits and rewards of these programs, and the epicenter of innovation has shifted to industries like retail.

Choice Hotels Rebrand Campaign Aims to Win Back Business Travelers: Choice Hotels’ latest advertising campaign signals the culmination of elongated efforts by the company to rebrand itself as a modern destination for all business and leisure travelers.

JetBlue Can Now Expand Europe Long-Haul Strategy With Airbus XLR Order: JetBlue Airways’ European strategy became clearer Thursday when the airline committed to an airplane capable of flying not only from the U.S. East Coast to London or Dublin but also from Boston and New York to south, central, and northern Europe.

Companies That Spend More on Travel See Big Boost to Business: Antiquated booking systems, cramped flights, and rushed trips have long plagued the world of business travel, as employees bear the brunt of company cost-cutting measures in order to help the bottom line. What if all the misery isn’t really worth it?

Oyo Plans $300 Million U.S. Expansion With Focus on Major Cities: Oyo Hotels & Homes, the young and rapidly expanding India-based hotel startup, has announced plans to invest $300 million into increasing the company’s footprint in its “newest home market” of the U.S.

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Grant Martin [[email protected]] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. He is a director of product marketing at TripActions. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.

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Tags: emirates air, frequent flyer miles, loyalty, lufthansa, unbundled fares

Photo credit: An Emirates A380 aircraft. 342520 / 342520

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