On April 1, South African Airways’ Voyager program introduced sweeping changes.
A recent letter to members outlined the changes, which include a significant increase in the amount of spending required on Voyager-allied credit cards. The previous earning ratio of one mile for every R5 spent has increased to one mile for every R7.50 spent.
In addition, elite-level members will no longer be able to upgrade on domestic routes once they’ve reached 15,000 miles. And, members will have to earn more miles to be upgraded on a range of international routes as well, including the popular South Africa-UK flights.
Among the other changes: Discount economy fares will earn only 50 percent of miles flown; and a popular referral program that allows members to earn bonus miles for bringing in new members will be capped at 10 new enrollees per member.
As a counterbalance, the airline said it will introduce some new benefits, including upgrades on one-way flights (previously only allowed on roundtrips), and the option to purchase up to 15 percent of the miles required for an award.
SAA stated that it made the changes to remain competitive against similar programs. SAA Voyager senior executive manager Theunis Potgieter said that while eight percent of seats were set aside for free for Voyager members only, 40 percent of those seats went unused. And SAA’s executive manager for Voyager marketing, Daleen Theron, pointed to the fact that upgrade award levels had not been increased since 1999.
Potgieter said SAA was negotiating with potential retail partners to increase options for earning miles, though he declined to give specifics.