Porter Air Joins the Revenue-Based Loyalty Revolution


In just a few short weeks a new VIPorter loyalty program is rolling out from Toronto-based Porter Air. And while there are still many details to be uncovered there is one main fact which the company is quite clear on: It will be entirely revenue-based. The new program rolls out the week of 14 September 2015, just 4 weeks away. That’s not much notice for a wholesale change in the way the system operates.

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The company is, not surprisingly spinning the change as a positive one for customers. Earn points on checked bags and seat assignments “so you can step onto your award flight sooner.” Similarly, the revenue-based redemption is being touted as “lifting all restrictions” so that every seat on every flight will be available. And, in some cases, the company suggests that awards might even be less expensive than they are today, depending on the base fare of the seat when redeemed under the new program. Because points are much more like cash now it will also facilitate the introduction of cash-and-points awards. Finally, there will now be an elite tier program instituted and that will, unsurprisingly, be “based on your annual spend.”

This is the latest program to choose such a shift in its approach to loyalty. The change does reduce the “sweet spot” options available but it also generally simplifies the programs to a level which consumers better understand. Which is not to say that the prior VIPorter was complicated. The old program had fixed earning and redemption based on three categories of fare types (already somewhat revenue-based) and a redemption ratio ranging from 5:1 on full-fare tickets to 20:1 on the most restrictive tickets. Without the earning and redemption rates available it is hard to know how these ratios will skew in the new program. But, if I had to guess, things will get worse at the bottom and better at the top. The industry has been pretty consistent with that approach lately.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

2 Comments

  1. I agree it’s not much notice and while we’ll have to wait for the details, the e-mail sounds like disingenuous marketing spin to me. Frustratingly, I’m 1 flight away from having enough for a free one and I won’t be able to fly before Sep. 14.

    I’m a bit surprised they are making this change. I doubt they are losing much money on free flights because it is already relatively difficult for casual travellers (i.e. those not spending a lot) to get a free flight as it takes 20 flights (at the low fare level) and their points expire 4 years from earning, regardless of the continuing level of activity in the account.

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