Big deal

What’s the deal with airlines and their incentive rewards programmes offering air mileage on a variety of products and services.

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By  Barbara Cockburn Published  September 1, 2006

|~||~||~|It looks great on paper but what does the customer really get out of it and what does the airline get out of it? These schemes often get a bad press because once a customer has accumulated their miles, the miles are not valid on certain flights or they expire which seems unfair. Last month, Etihad launched its frequent flyer programme, Etihad Guest, that claims will revolutionise airline loyalty initiatives. And at the same time, Gulf Air tweaked its loyalty prrogramme, which originally included a “million miles promotion,” and now it is allowing its scheme members to win the million miles prize twice. There are to be three monthly draws taking place in October, November and December, for travel between 1st September and 30th November 2006. And as if that wasn’t enough, a final draw will be held in mid-December to which all members, who have flown during the three month promotion period, will be re-entered into the draw. Etihad’s head of marketing, Peter Baumgartner, speaking at the launch of the scheme, is adamant that there are no losers in the scheme. Frequent flyers can travel anywhere within the firms 35 destinations, any time, any flight availability. There is no such thing as a full plane. Guests who take part in the scheme take priority and will always have a seat. At the conference Etihad even showed a video of frequent flyer programme “guru” Randy Petersen advocating the benefits of the scheme: “It’s the best out there. Congratulations Etihad,” he gushed. Etihad says that it has learned from the past mistakes of other reward schemes, by giving the “guest” so much more, but will it’s projected 100,000 reward enrolments in the first year, be singing Etihad’s praises? ||**||

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