Going Dutch?

Going Dutch?

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has introduced significant changes to its Flying Dutchman loyalty program. In an effort to simplify the program and align it to U.S. ally Northwest, the 10-year-old program will switch from points to miles, and increase the number of membership levels from three to four.

In step with Northwest and most other airline programs, KLM will now be crediting the actual number of miles flown to members’ accounts. Shorter flights with KLM, KLM UK, KLM Cityhopper and KLM Exel will earn a 500 mile minimum. Every mile flown earns one award mile and one level mile.

The familiar Blue, Silver and RoyalWing system will be replaced with a Blue Plus, Silver Elite, Gold Elite and Platinum Elite structure. Elite members will earn bonus award miles regardless of whether they fly Business or Economy class. Elite status will be reviewed every calendar year on Dec. 31, beginning in 2003.

Silver Elite can be reached with 25,000 miles or 30 flight segments, Gold Elite with 50,000 miles or 50 segments, and Platinum Elite with 75,000 or 90 segments. The significant difference here is that while the very top level, RoyalWing, used to require 40 segments, Platinum Elite now requires 90.

Apparently, KLM hopes that their very top elites will easily make the Platinum cutoff, and that other RoyalWing members will be satisfied with the perks of Gold Elite status. We’ll see….