Diamond Club, the loyalty program of bmi, has long been a rather attractive program for folks who live in the United States and like to earn huge heaps of miles on relatively cheap first class fares. Apparently they also have some loyal customers in the UK who actually fly on their planes but I’ve not met too many of them yet. Still, they’ve announced a number of changes this morning that affect folks in both groups, some for the better and some for the worse.
So here are some of the changes:
It is actually somewhat hard for me to believe that these didn’t exist before, but apparently that is the case. Now members will be able to redeem 5-25K miles each way for upgrades on bmi-operated flights. These upgrades will only be available for customers booked on relatively higher fares (U, L, Y, S, O or B buckets) so it isn’t a great benefit, but it is out there at least.
This is a nice benefit for folks with families who want to combine their miles to redeem for rewards. And, if you’re a bmi customer, it might also be nice for you to include “staff such as nannies and security” to join in the family account (yes, they really did write that on their website). The family membership feature actually is quite nice and a welcome benefit to the program.
Electronic Upgrade Vouchers
Historically bmi has given their elites four upgrade coupons (aka GUVs) annually to allow for upgrades on bmi-operated flights. Having never actually been on one of their planes I don’t really know much about the GUVs other than that they had to be redeemed at the airport on the day of travel and that there were always plenty of folks in the UK who were happy to accept them from me when my packet arrived each year and I offered them up. Now there will be no more paper upgrade GUVs; they are going to be electronic (eGUVs) and assigned to the account of each gold elite member. That means mo more trading/gifting the certificates. Bummer.
On the plus side, however, the certificates can be redeemed up to seven days in advance of flights now. It will also be possible to use the vouchers to upgrade on the longer and premium service flights (e.g. London-Cairo/Tel Aviv) though it will require as many as three eGUVs for those upgrades. And each member only gets four eGUVs annually so I’m not sure how one would be able to upgrade more than one trip. Maybe they’ll start selling the eGUVs or offer up another way to acquire them??
Overall I think that this is probably a wash in terms of the benefits. The lack of ability to trade/horde the eGUVs isn’t very welcome but the expanded utility of them probably is. Then again, I’ve never used one so I really have no idea.
Change is always difficult to gauge and it will affect each customer differently. For me the changes are mostly cosmetic since it means I can’t give away the vouchers anymore. That’s it. I can handle that. But for the folks who actually fly bmi with some frequency it means losing out on some benefits of the GUVs and getting the ability to use miles instead in very limited scenarios. Probably not great for them at all.
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