Irish airline Aer Lingus has re-branded its loyalty program, launched the new program – AerClub – and introduced Avios as its reward currency.
As is the case with many frequent-flyer programs these days, collecting Avios is based on how much money travelers spend on fares. Passengers can earn Avios by flying one of the airline’s partners: British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and United Airlines. However, redeeming said Avios is possible with just British Airways and Iberia, as well as Aer Lingus itself – all members of International Airlines Group.
Travelers who already signed up for loyalty accounts with either British Airways or Iberia, or both, still have to create a separate account with Aer Lingus. Currently, it is possible to transfer points between British Airways and Iberia accounts, provided they’re both at least 90 days old. Now that AerClub uses Avios as its currency, it is likely that members would be able to transfer their Avios among all programs in the future.
Flyers can earn 250 Avios simply by signing up for AerClub before Jan. 7.
Although earning Avios is revenue-based, redeeming Avios is distance-based, which means a number of miles required for booking a flight correlates directly to the distance between two airports. Or so one would think.
AerClub introduced six zones and redemption rates based on those six zones. For example, London and Dublin are located 290 miles away from each other, according to the Great Circle Mapper. Flights that are shorter than 650 miles fall into Zone 1, meaning travelers would need to redeem 4,000 Avios for a one-way flight during off-peak dates and 4,500 Avios during peak dates in economy class.
A distance-based award chart is fine and dandy…until it isn’t. The loyalty program introduced a notable exception—traveling from Boston to either Shannon or Dublin airports belongs to Zone 5 redemptions, as per AerClub’s distance chart. However, the distance between Shannon and Boston is actually 2,895 miles, according to the Great Circle Mapper, meaning the number of miles required for booking this flight should be based on rates for Zone 4. Now, instead of redeeming 10,000 (off-peak) or 12,500 (peak) Avios, AerClub requires 13,000 (off-peak) or 20,000 (peak) Avios to book a one-way economy-class flight between the two.
Boston–Shannon Aer Lingus-operated flight has been one of frugal travelers’ favorite redemptions using BA’s Avios. Just 25,000 Avios are required to book a round-trip in economy class, or 12,500 Avios one way. It seems as through the airline is catching on to frequent-flyers’ antics. At the end of the day, it is up to an airline to come up with an award chart, but making up exceptions simply does not look good to loyalty members the airline is trying to win over.
It’s not all bad, however. For example, I’ve looked up flights between Dublin and Chicago. Booking this flight on Aer Lingus website requires 13,000 Avios during off-peak dates, but British Airways asks for at least 17,000 Avios. The new loyalty program just means frequent flyers have more options now.
Will you be joining AerClub?
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