Loyalty programs are generally seen as an afterthought at low-cost carrier airlines. A couple percent credit as a rebate for future bookings and not much else in the way of benefits is the norm. It mostly works for the occasional customer or passengers focused on price when selecting fares. But it does relatively little to actually drive loyalty. For that to happen the companies need to invest in rewarding customers on the day of travel, recognizing those who fly more frequently with the airline with small perks. The new Norwegian Rewards product does precisely that.
Elite status in a legacy program earns travelers bonus points as well as waivers on fees for things like checked bags, seat assignments and priority lane access at the airport. The new Norwegian Rewards program offers the same, though customers will have to pick which of the benefits they want rather than receiving all of them at once. That said, the qualification threshold is spectacularly low: flying just six segments earns one Reward for a year. Want 2% more CashPoints in your account? Redeem your Reward credit for that and every flight for the next 12 months will credit extra to your account (and this can be redeemed up to 5 times as more segments are flown!). Fly another six segments and choose free advance seat assignments for the coming year. With up to 8 possible Rewards available to earn the “top tier” caps out at 48 segments flown, from which point all the benefits will apply.
The first Reward chosen MUST be a 2% bonus on CashPoints; after that it is up to the customer to decide the order in which future benefits will be applied. Some may choose to max out CashPoints earnings first while others may see more value in the Fast Track access and then free advanced seat assignments. Free checked bags requires 18 segments before it unlocks, effectively creating a “tier” within the program, though it is not specifically called out as such.
To take advantage of the benefits other than bonus CashPoints the booking must be completed on the Norwegian website; bonus CashPoints will be earned regardless of booking channel. And that raises an interesting quirk of the program. Some of the benefits, such as a free checked bag or seat assignment can be had via travel agent bookings and those bookings will earn the bonus CashPoints, too. Fares are not always identical across sales channels or even point of sale locations so it is important to cross-check the numbers, but it means that one could potentially “double dip” in the program while building up Rewards credits. That’s always nice.
Seeing airlines evolve their loyalty schemes in a manner which adds features rather than limiting them is a refreshing and welcome sort of announcement in the industry, one which we do not get to see all that often. In this case Norwegian appears to do a good job of balancing its costs for benefits with the value proposition of bringing passengers back more frequently, even if price is the primary motivator for most of them.
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