Loyalty program changes are a fact of life. And, more often than not, the changes are not so great for program members. At a minimum the users who “optimize” best are negatively affected as those sweet spots and loopholes are identified and closed. It has to happen, but that doesn’t mean the programs are always up front about that aspect of the changes. This week AsiaMiles shared news of a revised earning and redemption scheme for the program, covering both Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights.
True to history, the changes are negative at the extreme top end of the program. But the notice does not try to hide that fact. There is no discussion of “enhancements” in the new program. The facts are laid out without much color and a solid level of detail is provided for members to understand what the impact of the changes will be for their travels.
On the plus side, award costs for economy class seats stay steady or decrease. And all awards are now priced as one-way travel, without a premium surcharge for only buying half a trip. There are also fewer pricing zones in the new award chart.
Premium cabin customers are not so lucky. A first class seat between Hong Kong and New York City or Boston used to be 110k each way based on round-trip purchase. Now it is 125k each way. For those who made a habit of one-way redemptions the price on that same award comes down, from 130k to 125k, though that’s more about removing the one way penalty rather than improving the awards. Other, similar increases are shown across the new award chart.
On the earning side there are some cuts – about 20% of route/fare combos will earn fewer points – but 80% of trips will earn more than before. That’s a nice boost for many passengers, though there are some premium cabin trips that go down slightly. Such a shift is uncommon but it is a small number of routes where that is happening. With some cheaper, shorter routes seeing points earned double the adjustments are not all that bad overall.
Clearly there are good and bad bits with the changes. That the company is willing to own that and avoid hiding in fancy language is a refreshing change of pace. Lower earning city/fare options are included in the graphic shown; AsiaMiles doesn’t try to hide all the bad news. Other programs would do well to learn from this type of communication.