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Northwest Raises Mileage Award Prices Dramatically

nwa-planes
Nov 17 2004

Northwest has announced changes to elite qualification for 2005 and changes to its award charts as well. Business class flights from the U.S. to Europe are going from 80,000 to 100,000 miles roundtrip. Oddly, first class to Europe remains 100,000 miles roundtrip. Flights to Asia in business class are going from 90,000 miles to 120,000 miles. First class is going from 120,000 miles to 160,000 miles. Travel to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific (such as French Polynesia) is going from 80k/110k/140k for coach/business/first class all the way to 100k/150k/200k. The above changes are huge devaluations of the Worldperks programs from my point of view. I just redeemed an American Airlines 145,000 mile first class award to French Polynesia and Australia using Air Tahiti Nui and Qantas. The same destinations on Northwest would cost…

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Difficulties redeeming United premium class awards

United has gotten very difficult for redeeming saver award seats in premium cabins, at least on the routes I check. I scanned a full four months and didn’t see a single Los Angeles-Sydney or San Francisco-Sydney flight with two seats available as award tickets in first class. Only about 3 flights that had a single award seat up front. Exception is in the 3-5 days before flight, when availability seems to open up. This was never a problem in the period from 2000 – 2002. I suspect it’s a combination of fewer seats allocated, trying to hold back space for revenue tickets and even coach upgrades (of which I found plenty) along with more demand for awards given United’s financial difficulties and the fears about loss of miles that customers face. It is interesting that…

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Security Overreactions Not Limited to the United States

An Australian airport shut down for an hour after a vibrating sex toy was mistaken for a bomb. The suspect package was later identified as a vibrator-type “adult novelty device”. The incident was the latest in a string of false alerts regarding air security in Australia. The alarm was raised by cafeteria manager Lynne Bryant, whose staff was cleaning the area near a bin where the package was found. “It was rather disconcerting when the rubbish bin started humming furiously,” she said, Australian media reported. “We called security and next minute everybody was being evacuated while they checked it out.” Police were about to call in bomb experts when an unidentified passenger came forwards to identify the contents of the package.

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Air Canada Tussles with Air Miles

Canadian shopping loyalty program Air Miles faces a newly intensified challenge from Air Canada as its Aeroplan program branches out into more partnerships in retail. This is hardly new for a frequent flyer program, many of its US and Asian counterparts have already recognized that their currencies are powerful incentives beyond distinguishing commdity airline seats, and the partnerships are profitable as airlines sell their points to retailers for a higher price than the cost of airline seat redemptions.As Air Canada reaches more consumers through non-aviation earning opportunities, look for them to offer more non-aviation redemption opportunities as well — just as Air Miles offers low point redemption for movie tickets, many US carriers offer miles for magazines, and United now partners with Sony to offer music downloads.

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Triple Miles from Philly and Other USAirways Star Alliance Bonuses

In an attempt to leverage its frequent flyer program to defend its presence in Philadelphia, USAirways is offering triple miles between that city and 22 destinations. Registration is required.USAirways is also offering lots of bonuses for flying specific routes on its Star Alliance partners.Route-specific bonuses include bonuses for flying Austrian Airlines to Vienna (specific fares only), from 5,000 to 50,000 miles for flying United from Dulles to Zurich (on all fares except S, L, and T), and from 5,000 to 50,000 miles for flying United from Chicago to Osaka (looks like all fares earn something).USAirways is also offering carrier-specific double miles on Asiana, bmi to Heathrow, Singapore, Thai, and Varig. These are all restricted to specific fare classes and require registration.

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Could the US learn something from Korea?

Although the Korean approach may be a bit too extreme. One of the most vexing problems for frequent flyers is that the programs they belong to change the rules and redemption requirements seemingly at will. Customers save miles for awards and suddenly their miles are worth less, with higher mileage required for the flight they’ve been saving up for. It can seem like mileage programs are like Lucy from the Peanuts comic strip, pulling the football away at the last moment. Admirably, Korean carriers Korean Air and Asiana are seeking to make changes to their frequent flyer programs with a year’s notice and still they are facing legal hurdles from the Korean government. Korean Air and Asiana Airlines have been warned not to change their mileage policies. The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) on Monday issued…

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Air Canada restructuring documents available

The 18th Report of the Monitor, Ernst & Young Inc, was released yesterday. It provides a comparison between the Cerberus bid and the Trinity Time (Li) bid for the carrier. Attachments to the report and past documents are also available online.And while we’re on the subject of Air Canada, there is a current promo (registration required) to earn up to 60,000 miles for flights between Canada and Europe, Asia, Australia, India or Tel Aviv, and on non-stop scheduled flights operated by Lufthansa between Canada and Germany. Any status-earning fares qualify.

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Government Demands Prettier Stewardesses

According to one reader, India’s Minister of State for Civil Aviation is demanding that state airlines hire more attractive flight attendants.I haven’t found stories validating the claims in the aforelinked-to article, and the piece in question takes on more of a tone of opinion (criticism) than reporting, but I assume that the quotes are genuine.Presumably the government believes that more attractive flight attendants will help attract business to the country’s national carriers. And as a passenger I’m not opposed to that — Singapore Air has followed this model quite well — but perhaps the airlines’ troubles can be traced to government policies that demand frequent air service on unprofitable routes and subsidized air travel for officials.

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