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Membership Schemes for Business Flyers

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 26 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Business Business Flyers Membership

If you're flying around the world, or even around the UK and Europe, on a regular basis for business, it makes sense to enrol in the business flyer schemes run by the airlines. There are very few airlines who do not run a membership or reward scheme of some kind, the idea being to tie business travellers in to a particular airline or group of airlines.

How the Membership Schemes Work

For every mile that business flyers travel on a flight they will accrue points or bonuses of some kind which can be added up and redeemed against upgrades, free flights, or other freebies. These schemes began in the early 1980s and although they started in a fairly simple way, they are now made deliberately complicated to make it difficult to actually claim anything back.

Many of the airlines have now clubbed together to allow miles on one airline to count on a scheme run by another airline. In Europe almost all the airlines are now members of one of the three major multiple airline benefits alliances.

These alliances have also expanded outside the airlines with most of them linking up with membership schemes run by hotel chains, car hire companies and other similar organisations. So business flyers can gain points by hiring a car from the right firm and staying in a particular hotel, and then use points accrued to get an upgrade on a business flight.

Expanding to Reward Businesses

After a while the airlines realised that many business flyers had no choice over which airline they used when travelling, it was all booked for them by someone in their firm or a travel agent. This became more of an issue when the low-cost airlines started to take the business flyers away from the established airlines.

So the loyalty schemes began to reward the company involved as well. This isn't universal as yet but membership schemes that are doing this are giving points to the firm that they can redeem when making future bookings, in order to get free flights, upgrades, or other benefits.

Getting the Best From a Scheme While Travelling

To get the best out of a membership scheme it is unfortunately necessary for business flyers to examine all the small print in the leaflets to understand how the schemes work. As we said earlier, they are deliberately designed to bamboozle the business traveller and appear to be getting worse.

Help is at hand though, just put 'frequent flyer' into a web search engine and you'll find a number of sites featuring forums where business travellers can chat amongst themselves to work out the most advantageous way of maximising their points or miles.

If You Can't Beat Them…

To be honest, if business flyers are travelling on airlines more than once or twice a year, the obvious thing to do is sign up to the membership scheme for every flight they take. If they never gain enough points to claim anything then they haven't really lost anything as they would have flown the miles anyway.

Even if business flyers think they won’t use a particular airline again, they never know, they might find themselves making a return trip a year later and then be kicking themselves about losing the miles from the first trip.

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