Got a mail from Dr. Frank Maier from Swiss Miles and More telling me that unfortunately they were not able to renew my Senator (Gold) status as I was slightly short of the required mileage. But for the low low price of 2,000 euros I could extend the status for one year. 2,000 euros..you heard it right!
Now I actually like having the Senator status for some reason, but Swiss does not seem to value my business. Let's take a look at the facts:
Firstly, I take a lot of short but very expensive flights within Europe. These are money makers for Swiss. My company pays in excess of 1200 US dollars for a 1 ½ hour flight to the UK in the back of the plane! I had more than 40 segments last year (down year due to the economy and my company backing away form business class tickets). However segments don't count and the mileage accrued is miserable ..in some cases as low as 125 miles each way.
Secondly, when attempting to use FF miles the Senator help line is useless. Round trip business class ZRH to LAS 90,000 miles and 600 US dollars. Even better is after booking the flight they called me and told me the minimum connection time in FRA was not met. Therefore I could fly the night before and pay for my own hotel, or I could fly at my own risk meaning if I missed the connection I would get no rebooking or compensation. Where is the love? J
When comparing the frequent flyer status (silver) to the Senator status (gold) -- unless I am missing something I don't see 2,000 euros worth of difference. My primary airport in the UK does not even have a Senator lounge.
Frequent Traveller status
The frequent traveller card is given to all Miles & More customers that received a total of over 35,000 status miles in one calendar year. This status remains valid for two years and a member can re-qualify in any one of those two years. Usually, all status cards expire in February of the third year, e.g. status earned in December 2006, status valid until February 2009.
As a frequent traveller a passenger receives a number of privileges:
Access to Business Lounges of fully integrated M&M airlines with valid Star Alliance Boarding Pass for the same day and location before departure
Access to LH Frequent Traveller Lounge with valid Star Alliance Boarding Pass for the same day and location before departure
Business Class Check-In at fully integrated M&M airlines regardless of the flown class of service
25% Executive Bonus on award, status and HON Circle miles on all flights with Lufthansa, Swiss, United Airlines, US Airways, Austrian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Air One, Air Dolomiti and Air Canada
Miles retain unlimited validity
Increased registered baggage allowance: 40 kg on fully integrated M&M airlines (when weight concept applies)
All Star Alliance Silver Benefits
Exclusive FTL reservation hotline
When having collected 100.000 Status Miles (130.000 Miles for residents of Germany) within one calendar year, Miles & More members will receive "Senator" Status with a validity of at least 2 years. . The main benefits of Senator status are:
All advantages of Frequent Traveller status, in addition:
Access to all LH Senator Lounges, regardless of airline flown
Two eVouchers on achieving status and two more for every status retention, good to upgrade either two short-haul or one long-haul flight
Booking guarantee: Up to 48 hours before departure in booking class C, or up to 72 hours in booking class Y
Miles & More companion award: When booking an award ticket with Lufthansa or integrated carriers, the ticket for an accompanying second person only costs 50% of the mileage
Availability of an exclusive telephone service hotline
Availability of Mileage advance: The mileage account can be overdrawn by up to 50,000 Miles. This overdraft needs to be "repaid" until the status expires or each mile will be charged 0.024 EUR.
Senator Premium award: By using double the number of award miles Senators are able to book the very last available seat when it is no longer possible to redeem a regular Miles & More award.
All Star Alliance Gold Benefits
Finally, FF programs weere designed to create loyalty to a particular airline or alliance. With the prohibitive costs associated with purchasing a FF ticket and increasingly difficult requirements to obtain status I think some airlines are missing the point. I might add I recently read an interesting article in the Wall Street journal that said often times the most expensive ticket on a particular flight (read the most profitable for the airline) is the FF ticket. Any thoughts on the differences between the programs and if I should just move on to another airline/system?