As I mentioned in a post yesterday about hotel elite status, we have seen a shift over the years as US airlines reward those who have credit cards (and use them) more than those that fly on the cheapest tickets – even if they fly a lot.
Not only that, but as they improve their premium cabins, they have slowly made upgrades less frequent on many routes as they try to sell to people at check-in. Finally, they have devalued the redemption side while increasing some requirements for certain elite tiers. Certainly not the loyalty programs they may have once been!
One Airline Loyalty Program that Actually Rewards Loyalty
However, there is one airline loyalty program that I am pretty familiar with that has done a good job of transitioning to an airline that really rewards loyalty, especially loyalty to those customers who are within the range of their airline. This airline loyalty program is Miles + Bonus, the program of Aegean Airlines.
The Old Aegean Loyalty Program
Aegean used to be very famous within the travel hacking community because people could easily qualify for Gold status (I did it all in just about one trip) and the Gold status just didn’t expire. With that Gold status came things like 3 bags in economy on United (at the time, not anymore) and, the big one, lounge access in Star Alliance lounges. Since it is a foreign program, it allowed domestic United flyers to use United lounges for free (something that United Gold and up members cannot do on domestic itineraries).
The New Aegean Loyalty Program – Miles+Bonus
However, that all changed in 2014 as they finally added an expiration date to the status and set out the rules for qualifying and what it would take to requalify. I have had the opportunity to talk with the head of the loyalty program and the Aegean president and really like how they have a vision for their loyalty program.
So, how does Aegean’s Miles + Bonus program reward loyalty?
Aegean Rewards Loyalty With Minimal Requalification
It is certainly not as easy to get to Aegean Gold as it once was! Now, you need to qualify for Silver and then the clock starts over and you need to qualify for Gold. So, starting from scratch without any Aegean flights, you would need to credit 72,000 Star Alliance partner miles to Aegean to attain Gold (24,000 for Silver and then 48,000 for Gold). That is a lot! Especially when you consider that some cheap fares, like on United, only credit at 50% (and some at 25%).
- Achieve Silver – 24,000 miles on partners or 12,000 miles and 2 Aegean/Olympic flights
- Achieve Gold – 48,000 miles on partners or 24,000 miles and 4 Aegean/Olympic flights
- The earned tier miles reset after reaching Silver
Retaining Aegean Gold Is Easy – For Aegean’s Target Market
But, once you have Gold status, it is really easy to retain – especially for members in Greece. To requalify, you need to:
- Fly 12,000 miles and fly on Aegean or Olympic 4 times
- Or fly 24,000 miles on partners without doing the 4 Aegean/Olympic flights.
I love that they reward their members that will actually be flying on their airline by cutting in half the miles that they need to requalify! Great move and one that rewards loyalty with loyalty.
Aegean Rewards Loyalty With Great Benefits – In Greece
If you are traveling to Greece (or live in Greece) and you are an Aegean Gold member, you will be pleased to find that you actually can take advantage of that Aegean Gold with many benefits that are available only in Greece. Here is a rundown on some of the benefits offered to Aegean Gold members:
- Four business class upgrades on Aegean (great for value but can be hard to find space – revenue department problem)
- Two free parking passes for Athens airport
- One free valet parking pass for Athens airport
- Great benefits at SPG hotels in Greece
- 20€ – 50€ discounts on food and spa treatments at several SPG properties
- Unlimited use of Anazoe Spa Heat experience for a day at the Romanos and the Westin Resort Costa Navarino
- Complimentary 4th night stay at Vedema
- 10% Discount on stays at Yes! Hotels
- 7 Day pass for Holmes Place (fitness club)
- 10% Discount at Goody’s Restaurants
- 10% Discount at everest stores in Athens airport
- 20% Discount (for Gold, 15% for Silver) at La Pasteria and Kuzina Restaurants
In addition to that list of Greek-centric discounts and freebies, Aegean also has partnerships that reward Aegean Gold members (and Silver as well as basic members, to some extent) with other promotions. Here are just a couple:
- Bonus miles and a discount for running a particular Greek marathon and completing it (available to all active Aegean members)
- Special discount for premium cars (Mercedes GLA-series) from Hertz (great promo – I took advantage of it as I needed a car and these were cheaper than economy class cars!)
All of these discounts and benefits encourage doing business with these entities in Greece and they reward their most loyal members with added perks. Again, these are only available in Greece so not that useful to people that may credit miles only from other partners.
Aegean Rewards Loyalty With Mile Pooling
One of the great benefits of Aegean Gold status is the ability to pool miles in what they call a Together Account. This allows you to add up to 5 friends or family members and let their miles earned accumulate in that single account.
This is a great perk for Greek-based flyers since the mileage earning is not huge, given distances and the fact that Aegean is a regional airline. This allows for families that are traveling together (or even apart) to pool those miles so they can reach an award quicker. This is something that has been hugely helpful for us, especially since we can turn meager cheap economy fares to/from the US into something more meaningful when all our family credits to a single account.
If you are outside of Greece, or Europe, chances are you will not find the perks of the Aegean Miles+Bonus program incredibly helpful (outside of the lounge access if you are a Aegean Gold). But, if you are someone who is flying Aegean, it means you are at least stopping in Greece a little bit.
For those travelers and those that live/travel to Greece all the time, Aegean has many benefits and perks in place to reward you for your loyalty to them. As an Aegean Gold customer who flies Aegean more than any other airline, I can also speak to the incredible level of service onboard their airplanes. Not only do they reward their customers’ loyalty but their service also is a great way to bring business back again and again.
Of course, Aegean is thankful for Aegean elite members wherever they are, but their target market is certainly Europe and Greece in particular. With the abundance of Ryanair flights and now Ellinair flights in Greece now, Aegean’s method of rewarding customer loyalty within Greece is a great step to encourage more customer loyalty in the future.