Saturday, 18 August 2012

Loyalties - Bringing comfort back to travel


Using loyalties
I have always worked in the premise that there are rewards for loyalty especially when it come travel such that certain considerations go into what airlines I fly with and what hotels I stay in.
There is always a deal somewhere if you’ve done something long enough and been diligent to tot up the points, awards, miles, credits or whatever they might call them.
Hotel deals
For hotels, I frequented those of the Accor hotel chain or the Carlson hotel chain, the former offered very good deals in the UK and Germany, France just seemed to be overpriced compared to what one could get elsewhere, but after acquiring points over time having subscribed to a fee-paying loyalty scheme, the point could be exchanged for vouchers to defray costs.
The Carlson hotel chain offered a better value proposition that included free wireless internet access, discounts to services, late check-outs and points that could count towards hotel costs.
Airline deals
Living in the Netherlands, KLM was the airline of choice; though slightly more expensive accumulating miles of travels of a number of flights in a calendar year bumped you up to an elite status that allowed priority check-in, more baggage allowance, access to business lounges, possibly upgrades where available and much more.
I both acquired enough miles and flights to defray the cost of my trip to India last December that privileged status allowed me to check-in an extra piece of baggage on return.
Telling loss of status
On my last trip, my frequent flyer status had lapsed such that I had to be smarter about how to pack my bags. The weight limit is now set at 23kg because punier men than before handle baggage.
By the time my suitcase was weighed, it came to 25.6kg on the automatic baggage drop system, I then thought I might get it past a check-in attendant but I failed in that quest.
I was asked to move stuff from my suitcase into my hand luggage which was just a few kilogrammes short of the statutory 12kg. Now, I am only allowed one piece of hand luggage, however, if you do put your suits in a suit holder, you are allowed to two pieces of hand luggage just for the fact that one is not expected to pack suits in bag.
So, I moved two books and an external hard disk from the suitcase into my hand luggage and by sheer coincidence, luck or genius, the suitcase weighed exactly 23kg and the hand luggage exactly 12kg – we were good to go.
Other pleasures
I still have the mercy of one last loyalty card, the Privium Plus card which allows iris-scan customs control, access to their business lounge with a variety of drinks, food and snacks and now we are also given priority boarding.
In terms of loyalty, it is good to check what you frequently do and assess who has the scale and scope  - you do not want to use a hotel chain just limited to one country, likewise, it is best to join one of the major airline alliances like SkyTeam, Star Alliance or OneWorld they have more global coverage to exploit your loyalties and reap the benefits.

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