Frequent flyer program

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The frequent flyer programs of the major airlines are designed to increase customer loyalty by rewarding frequent use of the same airline with discounts in the form of free flights or “rewards”.

Separate check-in counter for members of a frequent flyer program

In business terms, this process is called the lock-in effect .

When you participate in such a program, the miles you have covered with an airline are saved and, once a certain amount has been reached, rewarded with rewards. These can be free flights (free flights), discounted flights, increasing the booking class (upgrade), access authorization for lounges , discounts at hotels, golf clubs, restaurants, mountain railways, etc. or benefits in kind. From a certain turnover, some companies grant a higher membership status such as B. silver or gold or certain names (e.g. "Senator", "Executive"). Customers are granted additional advantages such as increased mileage and free services (e.g. chauffeur services).

Sometimes, in exchange for miles, you can reserve seats next to free seats or with more legroom. In some cases, these customers are even offered space on fully booked flights; 'Normal' passengers are then shifted to a later flight . After a certain period of time, accumulated miles or the achieved membership status can expire.

All major international airlines offer frequent flyer programs. On the basis of agreements between airlines or alliances , these bonus miles can also be earned with other companies or transferred from one company to another. The companies often work together with other companies such as hotels or car rental companies . When purchasing a product or service from these companies, a certain amount of “miles” or points are then also credited to a customer account. The participants in the program usually receive a customer card, some of which they have to present when using.

In general, the various frequent flyer programs of airlines that work together are compatible with each other. This applies to the Oneworld Alliance , Star Alliance and SkyTeam . You can book the miles flown with any airline of one of these alliances on the corresponding frequent flyer program of the partner airline with which you are registered; but not always on the same terms as with the operating airline.

Economically, the operators of popular systems rely on the expectation that a large part of these points will never be exchanged for goods or services. It is possible to sell miles to brokers. In the past, therefore, legal disputes sometimes occurred when trying to use points from different participants jointly or to sell them via file sharing networks and auction platforms.


As early as 1979 the airline Texas International Airlines launched the first such campaign. However, the concept of the frequent flyer program is mostly attributed to the former head of American Airlines , Robert Crandall. In the early 1980s he found that five percent of his customers accounted for 40 percent of sales. On May 1, 1981, the AAdvantage program was introduced. The participants then received miles with every flight, which they could initially only redeem for American Airlines flights and later for other awards. Delta Air Lines (Skymiles) , TWA (Aviators) and United Airlines ( MileagePlus ) followed shortly after with similar programs, British Airways (Executive Club) introduced a frequent flyer program in 1982. Miles & More , Lufthansa's frequent flyer program , was launched on January 1, 1993.

Frequent flyer programs of major airlines

airline Frequent flyer program
Adria Airways Miles & More
Aegean Airlines Miles & Bonus
Aer Lingus Gold Circle Club
Aeroflot Aeroflot bonus
Aerolineas Argentinas Aerolineas Plus
Aeromexico Club Premier
Aerosur Club AeroSur
Air Astana Nomad Club
Air Austral Capricorne Program
Air Baltic Baltic Miles
Air Botswana Teemane Club
Air Canada Airplane
Air China Phoenix Miles
Air Europa Flying Blue (with Air France-KLM)
Air France Flying Blue (together with KLM; previously Frequence Plus)
Air Madagascar Namako
Air Mauritius Kestrel Flyer
Air Malta Flypass
Air Namibia Reward $
Air New Zealand Air Points
Air Serbia Etihad Guest
Air Seychelles Seychelles Plus
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Alitalia Club Mille Miglia
American Airlines AAdvantage
ANA ANA Mileage Club
Asiana Airlines Asiana Club
Atlantic Airways Club Atlantic
Austrian Airlines Group Miles & More
Avianca Avianca Plus
Bangkok Airways FlyerBonus
Belavia Belarusian Airlines Belavia Leader
British Airways Executive Club
Brussels Airlines Miles & More (before October 15, 2009 Privilege)
Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club (status miles) and Asia Miles (award miles)
China Airlines Dynasty Flyer
China Eastern Eastern Miles
China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club
Croatia Airlines Miles & More
Czech Airlines OK plus
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles
Egypt Air Egypt Air Plus
El Al Matmid
Emirates Skywards
Etihad Airways Etihad Guest
Ethiopian Airlines Sheba Miles
EVA Air Miles & More and Evergreen Club
Finnair Finnair Plus
Flybe Avios (previously: Rewards4all)
Germanwings Miles & More and Boomerang Club
Gulf Air FalconFlyer
Iberia IberiaPlus
Icelandair Saga Club
Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank
KLM Flying Blue, previously Flying Dutchman
Korean Air Skypass
LOT Miles & More
Lufthansa Miles & More
Luxair Miles & More
Malaysia Airlines Enrich
Malindo Air Malindo Miles
Oman Air Sindbad Frequent Flyer
Qantas Airways Frequent Flyer
Qatar Airways Privilege Club
Royal Air Maroc Safar Flyer
Royal Brunei Royal Skies
Royal Jordanian Royal Plus
S7 Airlines S7 priority
SAS EuroBonus
Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan
Shanghai Airlines Crane Club
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
South African Airways Voyager
Sri Lankan FlySmiles
Swiss International Airlines Miles & More
TAM Linhas Aéreas Fidelity
TAP Portugal Miles & Go (before: Victoria, before: Navigator)
TAROM Flying Blue (previously: Smart Miles)
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus
Tunisair Fidelys
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
United Airlines MileagePlus
Vietnam Airlines Golden Lotus Plus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Similar programs at railway companies

Based on the frequent flyer programs, several railway companies have also launched a frequent traveler program. These include:

In a cooperation called Railteam , these frequent driver programs mentioned above are to be made compatible with one another.

In addition, the Austrian private railway Westbahn participates in the Miles & More program. Also in the AIRail trains on the German Railroad, Inc. Miles can - & - acquired More miles.

Legal problems

Since points are also earned on business trips, which then benefit the traveler and not the payer, the correct billing of bonus miles represents a certain hurdle. Critics simply speak of bribery , which means that instead of choosing the cheapest flight provider, it is the one offering the most points to the traveler. Many employers stipulate in the employment contract or in an order that the "service miles" may only be used for business trips . If the employee does not adhere to this, he can be warned and even terminated. The Federal Labor Court has now published a judgment on this.

Other companies, however, forego such a regulation in favor of the employee, and this is also common for freelancers who are on the road for different clients. However, some airlines require that awards can only be used privately. To resignations in 2002 led the so-called bonus miles affair , in which members of the German Parliament , including the Greens -Politiker Cem Özdemir and the left -Politiker Gregor Gysi , with official accumulated bonus points private air travel conducted.

For reasons of simplicity, airlines in Germany can calculate wage tax at a flat rate of 2.25%. The assessment basis is the total premiums distributed to domestic customers. The level of the tax rate takes into account that part of the premiums does not represent wages and another part would be tax-free because of the discount allowance .

Mileage run

A mileage run is a flight with the aim of collecting as many frequent flyer miles as possible in the shortest possible time. The reasons for this are to collect bonus miles in order to exchange them for flight and non-cash rewards and to (re-) achieve a status level.


  • The film Up in the Air describes u. a. a businessman's plan to earn 10 million miles.
  • The biggest real mile collector is Thomas Stuker, who from 1982 to summer 2011 with 5,900 flights reached the 10-million-mile mark with MileagePlus from United Airlines.

Web links

Wiktionary: frequent flyer program  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A History of US Airline Deregulation Part 4: 1979–2010: The Effects of Deregulation - Lower Fares, More Travel, Frequent Flier Program
  2. SympathiePunkte - The bonus points program of Meridian and Bob ( Memento from May 14, 2014 in the Internet Archive ),, accessed on May 26, 2019
  3. ^ Federal Labor Court, judgment of April 11, 2006 (9 AZR 500/05)
  4. ^ Mile Runners Take Frequent Flyer Mileages to a Whole New Height , Fox News, October 14, 2011
  5. ^ The art and science of the mileage run , USA TODAY, accessed October 15, 2011
  6. Wild About Miles: Inside the Mind of the Mileage Junkie ( Memento of July 13, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), insideflyer, accessed on May 26, 2019
  7. The journey is the goal , Spiegel, January 9, 2012
  8. Ten million miles record cracked , Süddeutsche, July 11, 2011