Miles & More will change

Loyalty programs tend to get ever more complicated. Customers can hardly figure out whether they can upgrade their tickets by using their miles. Usually, tickets are not upgradeable if the booking class and, thus, the price is low.

But many airlines do not reveal the booking class when you are searching for a ticket. Swiss, for example, shows initially 3 fares: economy, business and first class. If you click on economy you get 3 different fares: economy saver, economy, and economy flex.

However, Swiss does not reveal the booking class for any of those fares. Therefore, when you purchase the ticket you do not know whether you can use your miles to buy an upgrade in case seats are available for upgrades. You need to call Swiss before the purchase.

All airlines require that you check a box saying that you have read the terms and conditions, otherwise you cannot buy the ticket. Hardly any traveler reads them, but every flyer checks the box. Even so, the fine print is very general and does not reveal the booking class.

The only way to ascertain the booking class is to call the airline. At Swiss, H is the minimum class for an upgradeable ticket. You cannot book it online, so you will have to call Swiss anyway.

As Swiss is owned by Lufthansa, it participates in Miles & More. Its current watered down version of a miles-based program will change into a revenue-based program as of March 12, 2018. The miles earned will depend on the price of your ticket and your status. The miles will be calculated by the fare multiplied by your factor, which depends on your status and the operating airline.

If you booked your flight at Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings or Brussels Airlines, the basis of the calculation will be the fare, which is the ticket price plus any surcharges levied by the airline (so excluding taxes). This figure is then multiplied by a factor dependent on your frequent flyer status to calculate the miles you will earn.

For flights operated by one of the above-mentioned airlines or another Miles & More partner airline, the base multiplying factor is 4. If you are a Frequent Traveler (Silver), Senator (Gold) or HON Circle (Platinum) member of Miles & More, the factor is 6 for flights operated by Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada, LOT Polish Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Adria Airways and Air Dolomiti.

For flights operated by Eurowings, Brussels Airlines or another Miles & More partner airline, the fare is multiplied by a factor of 5. Miles for tickets that are booked before March 12, 2018 will be credited according to the current system, also if the trip itself begins on or after the cutoff date.

You do not need a PhD to understand the program, but the new system is for sure quite complicated.

Tags: Miles & More, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, Swiss


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