Air Travel: Why the Time Is Right for Frequent-Flier Perks

Singapore Airline’s Krisflyer program has seen one potentially significant development in that the airline is beginning to open up more premium-class reward seats on their newer aircraft to their own members (leaving members of other programs in the alliance, such as United’s, gazing across the tarmac dreaming of A380 business class). That should be of interest even to those who are not frequent fliers with the airline, as Krisflyer is a transfer partner with a number of points schemes in the region, and the airline’s premium cabins are as renowned for their quality as they are for being difficult to get into using miles.

We should see many more developments when it comes to loyalty programs in the months and years to come. As low-cost carriers gather strength in Asia, frequent-flier programs are becoming even more of an important differentiator in the market. The programs represent a way for traditional mainline carriers like Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines to win back passengers who might be hovering between premium flying and the appeal of low-cost fares. This has long been the case in the United States and Europe, but as Asia sees its low-cost carrier boom gain force, miles and points should continue to build a stronger presence.

“The frequent-flier program is the key differentiator airlines have in this commodity-centric business,” says Widzer. “We’re at a point where airline pricing and services are standardized at all levels. Therefore, their value proposition is the perks and enhanced services awarded to loyal, profitable customers.”

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