In offering commentary on the major changes coming to the British Airways program, Lucky concludes,
This change is pretty in line with what I expect from airlines in 2015:
- British Airways is being less rewarding to those on lower fares
- British Airways is being more rewarding to those on expensive fares
“British Airways is being more rewarding to those on expensive fares” is what they want the narrative to be But I don’t think it’s quite accurate:
- Discount business fares earn less starting April 28
- Silver elites earn less
- Premium cabin redemptions cost more
So it’s not at all obvious that expensive fares come out ahead. For many it’ll be a wash (flexible business and first class fares earn more, but then redeeming for the same costs more) and for some (discount business fares, and silvers) it’ll be negative because they’ll earn less and it’ll take more miles to redeem.
I don’t see this as especially generous for premium cabin travelers at all. Instead, premium cabin travelers don’t get devalued more or less, while lower fare travelers receive less.
That may be all well and good, but it’s a different narrative.
When Delta announced their revenue-based frequent flyer program, they wanted the same narrative – rewarding the customers who spend the most. But the details didn’t really bear out the way they were telling the story.
- Customers had minimum spend requirements at the time for elite status of 10 cents per mile, while having to spend an average of 20 cents per mile on tickets just to break even on mileage-earning.
- Maximum points earning was capped so the highest fares wouldn’t actually earn more than merely high international business fares.
And at the time that was even before sharing a thing about the redemption side of the program.
Airlines are getting less generous in rewarding flying with planes full, they don’t need to spend marketing dollars to fill last seats on the plane so those low fare seats aren’t getting the frequent flyer investment. That’s a reasonable business strategy, but it’s a different story entirely from increasing rewards to premium passengers.