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Sun 1 Oct 2006 04:00 AM

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The extra mile

The concept of loyalty schemes for The concept of loyalty schemes for airline customers has become widespread throughout the Middle East. Etihad Airways’ head of marketing, Peter Baumgartner, believes its new guest programme is raising the benchmark for the aviation industry.

How does Etihad’s loyalty scheme work?
Well, each customer can earn a certain amount of miles for each journey, which equates to the distance travelled. The miles can be redeemed after the customer’s first flight. In fact, members can redeem anything from one mile upwards, with the option of topping up the shortfall with cash. Bonus miles are available too, depending on the seat zones and tier levels selected by the traveller. Etihad’s online store, www.etihadguest.com, is accessible throughout the day, for customers to view account information and exchange their guest miles.

How does Etihad differentiate its reward programme from other airlines?
Etihad is the only airline to make every seat on every flight available for redemption of flight rewards. There are no blackout periods, which means that members can travel on any flight. There is always availability.

Etihad is also the first airline to offer its guests the flexible Miles+Cash option, which means members can still enjoy the benefits of the scheme by paying for rewards.

Etihad has attracted a large number of family travellers. Can the miles be collected together by different members of the family?
Yes. This is possible through the family membership, which includes up to nine The concept of loyalty schemes for The concept of loyalty schemes for airline customers has become widespread throughout the Middle East. Etihad Airways’ head of marketing, Peter Baumgartner, believes its new guest programme is raising the benchmark for the aviation industry. family members, where one person is nominated as the head of the family, in terms of pooling miles. Whenever each family member collects miles for airline journeys, the head of the family will have their account credited.

A variety of family members are eligible for this membership category, including parents, children, spouses, siblings, grandchildren, grandparents, and even household help. However, the list of family guests can only be changed once every twelve months.

Unlike family membership programmes offered by other airlines, Etihad allows 100% of miles collected by family members to be transferred to the head of the family’s account. This person maintains exclusive control of the membership balance, allowing members to accumulate more miles and enjoy their rewards sooner.What type of rewards are currently on offer for members to redeem?
Etihad Airways has teamed-up with a variety of partners to provide a wide range of both flight and non-flight rewards to guests. These include airline, car rental, finance, retail and lifestyle rewards, while members can also benefit from discounts on a variety of leisure products.

Do the miles expire after a certain amount of time?
If a member has not earned any miles for a period of 36 months, their membership will be terminated. Etihad guest miles also expire three years after the member initially earned them.

Any guest miles reaching their expiration date cannot be extended. However, there is a unique combination of initiatives, such as the no blackout period for flight rewards and the Miles+Cash payment option, in addition to a wide variety of rewards available for redemption. There is, therefore, no reason why guests should find their Etihad guest miles expiring.

What are the benefits of implementing such loyalty programmes for the aviation industry?
We get customer loyalty from the programme, while customers feel attached to the brand and our partners in the scheme. This positively increases business in the long term.

Does Etihad have projections for the reward scheme response?
Already, in the first 24 hours of launching, we received nearly 3000 global applications for membership, a clear indication that the pioneering airline is in touch with the thinking of today’s discerning international travellers. In total, we are hoping for 100,000 enrolments during the first year.

“In the first 24 hours of launching, we received nearly 3000 global applications for membership”

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