Flybe, a regional carrier based in the United Kingdom, has announced that they will be removing all destinations in three countries from their award redemption scheme. All destinations in Spain, Portugal and Croatia will be ineligible for award seats in the Rewards4all program effective March 31, 2011. The carrier has made this move citing high demand for said reward seats:
[O]ver the past few months we have become increasingly aware that the heavy demand for flight redemptions on what is actually just a small number of the routes Flybe operates is putting huge pressure on some of our most popular ’sea and sun’ routes such as those to Spain and Portugal….
[A]s our network evolves over the next few years this situation is unlikely to change.
This move comes on top of the regular inventory restrictions that the airline (and most others) places on award seats and it is a rather uncommon move in the industry. While some airlines may have routes or destinations that are inaccessible via award based on regular inventory controls, in this case Flybe is admitting that they simply aren’t going to bother. If you want to fly to one of those destinations you’ll have to pony up the cash.
Announcing such a change significantly devalues the loyalty program. Most customers collect points to redeem on aspriational trips. These are splurge destinations for a holidays trip that otherwise is unlikely to happen. By choosing to remove access to arguably the most desired destinations in this category the airline is essentially telling its customers to not bother working towards building up that balance because the trip will never happen. Definitely a strange move on the part of their loyalty marketing group.
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