Flight Plan

Flying high with free miles

K Giriprakash | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on March 07, 2017

Pampered Loyal customers get benefits such as free meals, free miles and additional baggage allowance

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Jet Airways offers 1 million miles free as competition with LCCs intensifies



Full-service airlines are banking on loyalty programmes to wrest market share from low-cost carriers (LCCs) whose discounted fares have kept legacy carriers such as Jet Airways and Air India at a distance.

While they cannot offer discounts upfront as LCCs do, self-service airlines are rewarding their loyal customers and wooing newer ones with frequent flyer loyalty programmes, crediting thousands of free miles into their account every time they fly.

Jet Airways, which rolls out offers regularly to keep passengers sticking to it, recently announced a jackpot of 1 million miles free before the end of this month, while there are daily offers of 1 lakh free miles as well.

“Don’t go just by fares,” said Praveen Iyer, Vice-President, Commercial, Sales for Jet Airways. According to him, LCCs offer discounts which may seem attractive, but a loyal customer of a full-service carrier gets several benefits including free miles, free meals and higher baggage allowance thrown in. “A simple maths calculation shows that you end up getting a fare which is lesser than the LCC fare,” Iyer said.

An article in The Economist magazine quoting a research published by consultancy firmKPMG said that legacy carriers are increasingly indistinguishable from their low-cost rivals in terms of the fares they charge, topped by the additional services.

More offers

In fact Jet Airways has made their fares so attractive that a back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that their latest offer gives passengers a free round trip for a single person in a family of four for every fifth flight, from the earlier 12th flight. “What it clearly shows is that full-service carriers are no longer taking it lying down and allow LCCs run away with higher market share,” said an analyst with a consultancy firm.

Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, too has offers which allows its frequent flyers to upgrade to the next tier of benefits faster than what LCCs have on offer. Loyalty programmes come in different grades such as silver and platinum. To woo customers, airlines like Vistara sometimes indulge fliers with quick upgrades. “There is always a new offer round the corner from FCCs which are far more frequent than before,” says the analyst.

Jet Airways will hope that the offers will help continue its improved showing in January 2017, when its market sharegrew the highest, by 50 basis points to 15.5 per cent. On the other hand, market leader and low-cost carrier IndiGo saw its share dip slightly to 39.8 per cent, from 40.3 per cent the previous month. Another LCC, Spicejet maintained its share with 12.8 per cent.

Jet Airways’ Iyer claims that the latest offer of 1 billion free miles from Jet Airways is perhaps the largest since British Airways offered one day’s inventory of seats free soon after the Chernobyl disaster.

Published on March 07, 2017
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