For a few weeks now, aviation fanatics’ groups and specialized forums have been buzzing with the news: Flying Blue is creating a fourth status above the Platinum status.
This status, pretentiously named “Ultimate” is therefore reserved for a certain elite at Air France. And unlike Club 2000, which was so controversial because it was awarded on a totally discretionary basis according to criteria of influence that are now a thing of the past, the awardees are really Air France’sbest customers.
This Ultimate status remains a mystery, and the benefits not yet announced. However, from the various posts on the forums, the benefits are as follows:
- A personal and named assistant, able to manage all the needs around the air travel: This is a well-known benefit of the most loyal customers of hotel chains, the personal concierge. While this is nice, the real benefit remains minimal, except surely in the case of irregularities. But still too little information available to see thereal benefit;
- Lounge access for up to 9 guests: This is the most expensive benefit, but also the most useful for the family head who travels with his children. they will be able to bring their entire family into the lounge, regardless of size, if they are on the same reservation file. A headache to come during school vacations for sure. And, frankly, this benefit was given on a discretionary basis to Platinum memberswho traveled with a “reasonable” size family;
- Improved ground service: This benefit, tested during the pilot phase that took place in 2016, has yet to be confirmed and has not been confirmed by our internal informants at Air France.
Very poor, therefore. And above all, a caring relationship that risks being severely degraded for Platinum members of the Flying Blue program.
Incredibly high qualification criteria
This is where the extraordinary comes in. Given the low level of benefits provided by the program, one would expect the qualification criteria to be achievable… Not so!
You have to accumulate 370,000 qualifying miles (not 360,000, as announced everywhere) over a two-year period, only on Air France or KLM. The SkyTeam alliance airlines are excluded from the balance.
Thus, and this is clearly the goal according to our sales representatives at Air France, only 1000 customers are eligible for this status in France. This figure would correspond to approximately 10% of the Platinum customer base in the same geographical area.
At TravelGuys, despite our frequent and numerous trips in front classes, neither Bertrand nor I have been able to achieve this status. And this despite almost 400,000 status miles accumulated in 2015 and 2016 for my part, unfortunately not only on AF-KL.
In any case, the lucky ones receive a nice email from Jean-Marc Janaillac.
A status that still needs to be proven
For the moment, there is no wordfrom Flying Blue. Moreover, its director, Frédéric Kahane, is not very loquacious about the future of the program, in particular aboutthe transition to full revenue-based, which has been postponed indefinitely.
It is thediscretionary benefits that will be the most important… But what will they be? Time will tell in the coming months, even if our internal contacts doubt that there will be a lot of upgrades like in the great Club 2000 era of the late 90’s, with Ultimate members having only the highest priority obviously ahead of Platinum and Club 2000 members.
Another poorly thought-out idea at Flying Blue. And yet, it was easy to benchmark British Airways (GCL) and Lufthansa (HON Circle), or United (Global Services) and Delta (Diamond), to see what can be done well, or even very well, for the best clients. In any case, it becomes urgent to communicate.