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Air points update

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Air New Zealand has today announced an overhaul of its Airpoints programme – and on initial reading it seems most members will be better off. Whether the announcement is a nicely timed distraction from news of its partial sale or not, it certainly looks like the airline has been listening to its customers’ complaints about the fairness of its current programme.

The airline’s Head of Customer Loyalty, Mark Street, has said the changes will result in a much fairer reward and recognition system as they’ll now be linked to the value of the fare paid. Every fare class will have its own Airpoints Dollar and Status Point earning rate, whereas the current structure has the same earning rate for a collection of fare classes that can vary in price by hundreds of dollars.

The idea is that the more you pay for a fare, the more you’ll earn in either Airpoints Dollars or Status points. And now every regularly available fare will earn Airpoints Dollars, not just the higher-fare classes.

Overall, there’s an increased spread of earning rates across regional and main trunk domestic fares – with longer regional routes getting significant increases. International routes see increases on most of the higher-fare classes but the more basic fare classes may be worse off.

The changes will kick in from 31 March 2014.

Let’s take an example or two. If you purchase a seat (no bag) for a flight between Auckland and Wellington you’ll currently earn no Airpoints Dollars. Under the revised scheme you’ll earn 1 to 2 Airpoints Dollars. You’ll no longer get 12 Status points though – those drop to 8.

But if you pay for a Flexi-Plus fare, which could be up to three times more expensive, you’ll get 10 or 15 Airpoints Dollars now and this won’t change much after March 2014 – 9 to 16 Airpoints Dollars will be the new rate. However, you’ll earn more Status points – 16 to 31 rather than 12 or 16.

If you’re heading to Sydney tomorrow from Wellington, on a Works Deluxe Economy Saver fare, you’ll earn 5 or 10 Airpoints Dollars and 30 Status points. After March you’ll earn 17 to 24 Airpoints Dollars and 35 to 48 Status points – a win both ways.

Air New Zealand has said that the changes will result in several million more Airpoints Dollars being earned by members each year. But all this change is rather academic if you don’t actually use your Airpoints Dollars or Status points. With Air New Zealand it’s pretty easy to use them - if there's a seat for sale on any Air New Zealand ticketed and operated flight, and you have enough Airpoints Dollars in your account, you can buy it. And 1 Airpoints Dollar equals $1 so it’s easy to figure out if you have enough

Kate Sluka.