In December FlyerTalk Live! hosted a chat with special guest Denise Martineau, Director of Frequent Flyer for the Star Alliance. Here’s some of the best of that live chat.
Q: Is Star Alliance considering introducing upgrades certificates that can be used at any Star Alliance airlines on a standby basis?
SA: This is one of the most often asked questions. Some of you may recall that Star introduced upgrades on a standby trial basis for its first anniversary in 1998 and this was well received by customers. While Star is continuously looking for new products to improve customer travel experiences there are no plans to introduce upgrades across the Star Alliance airlines in the near future. The reasons for this vary. Some Star airlines do not currently offer upgrade awards in their own programs. Those that do offer upgrade awards have differing products so there are significant considerations in terms of aligning system platforms, policies and procedures. There is also the important consideration of ensuing that award upgrades across the alliance does not dilute the product value. In other words ensuring there is proper capacity available and that it does not diminish the value of the business class and first class products.
Q: Will Star Alliance airline partners one day agree to take into account mileage on a single basis: e.g. LH flights granted a 100% mileage by UAL (same problem with SQ)? Thank you for your answer and explanation on a common policy for all partners.)
SA: While there are areas where the airlines have common frequent flyer benefits such as miles/point accrual on any Star Alliance airline flown counting toward tier status or the ability to redeem awards on any Star Alliance airline, there are no plans to streamline or consolidate program structures. Each program structure is different based on market and competitive environment. Star looks for opportunities to bridge product benefits and services across the alliance network to provide a smooth travel experience. This is best demonstrated by Star Alliance Gold benefits with products such worldwide airport departure lounge access (approx. 500), Priority check-in, etc.
Q: Membership number and status does not appear to pass seamlessly between carrier. What is being done to fix?
SA: Such a good question. Star has spent a lot of time addressing this issue, because we feel if you fly you should get your miles and not have to request them after the fact. Some good news is that in 1998, we knew that 32% of miles/points were not being automatically credited to customer accounts, however by the end of 2000 this came down to 15%. Not perfect however but the number #1 reason why customers don’t get their miles in 50% of the time is because their frequent flyer account number is not included in their reservation. We need customers and travel agents to help in this regard. Make sure your travel or corporate booking agent provides your frequent flyer number at time of booking. To further ensure you get your miles, provide it when you check-in (for each flight). There are other areas we are looking to address as well to ensure we lower the number of retroactively credited miles over time. If you have specific recurring situations that you could report, please do so to your airline FFP so that the situations can be reviewed and corrected.
Q: Are there any plans to make 3 levels instead of 2. So a 1K would have more Star Alliance benefits than a Premier Executive?
SA: Star Alliance is not planning to introduce a Platinum tier for now, given that Star Alliance Gold customers get more benefits than most other alliances. While alliances offer more or less the same benefits, Star Alliance Gold members get access to more lounges and in recent research Star Alliance Gold customers were very happy and would rather that “not too many people know about it so that they can keep the benefits for themselves”