Flying Blue Platinum Ultimate Status

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Old Sep 1, 18, 4:51 pm
  #1426  
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Originally Posted by Pamplona View Post
By the way, do we know / can we guess how many passengers enjoy this ULTI status???
200? 1000? 5000???
AFAIK, around 1000-1200.
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Old Sep 1, 18, 11:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Goldorak View Post
AFAIK, around 1000-1200.
worldwide ? Seems not too many
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Old Sep 2, 18, 1:59 am
  #1428  
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Originally Posted by Jean97 View Post
worldwide ? Seems not too many
yes, worldwide. But the great majority are very likely in FR and NL, and possibly BE.
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Old Sep 2, 18, 2:25 am
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Here is one of the points we worked out earlier as well already:

Whereas for AF there is a 'carrot' of potentially being upgraded to P which still gives a balance for (major) flaws within the ULTi service catalogue and potentially makes you still choose for AF.

For KL however, if you already fly in C, such upgrades to P are not possible, hence you are really looking for the plain benefits of ULTI in service, attention, etc. If then those are not coming, there is literally 0 extra benefit coming from ULTI, especially giving the current situation at the lounges in AMS.
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Old Sep 2, 18, 5:11 am
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Originally Posted by travelbits View Post
Here is one of the points we worked out earlier as well already:

Whereas for AF there is a 'carrot' of potentially being upgraded to P which still gives a balance for (major) flaws within the ULTi service catalogue and potentially makes you still choose for AF.

For KL however, if you already fly in C, such upgrades to P are not possible, hence you are really looking for the plain benefits of ULTI in service, attention, etc. If then those are not coming, there is literally 0 extra benefit coming from ULTI, especially giving the current situation at the lounges in AMS.


Let me play the devil's advocate here. While I understand that the Ultimate program management has not yet succeeded in having the KL staff at AMS cower and heed their directives (resulting in a gross imbalance with CDG), the promised benefits are offered at outstations (at least at a number of them), and come in different flavors. ORD remains my top one in terms of service, with expedited TSA and ProVision scanner clearance, and table reservation at the crammed third-party lounge. At BOS, the deal with the TSAs must be somewhat different, line-cutting being less systematic. At HKG, the escort service is just as effective, though the sparse PAXs at immigration and security every time I went through them makes it difficult to assess whether the staff working on behalf of AF is empowered to jump the line. At PEK, no line cutting for passport control, but expedited scanner clearance by means of a certificate handed at check-in time. At CAN, in the event of a short connection, both passport-control and scanner lines are jumped. At SCL, none of the above, but a (useless) escort throughout the security filters, reminiscent of a meet & greet service at CDG without any vehicle. In short, zero advantage. All in all, depending on the airport, the gain in time can be considerable (a solid hour sometimes at ORD), or simply nil, but I would not go as far as saying that the benefit of being Ultimate is zero. Just uneven and inconsistent, as we have all experienced it.
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Old Sep 2, 18, 8:12 am
  #1431  
 
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Only ~20 ULTI in Belgium + Luxemburg with the first promotion...
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Old Sep 2, 18, 9:14 am
  #1432  
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For someone who will now never reach Ulti but periodically fly AF, that thread is fascinating.
I remember reading that Ulti came with some confirmed upgrade certificates (or whatever they are called). Has this been discontinued? No one seems mentioning them as an Ulti benefit. Many airlines have such benefit for their top tier (even below Ulti), so I assume AF followed the trend.
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Old Sep 2, 18, 9:20 am
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
For someone who will now never reach Ulti but periodically fly AF, that thread is fascinating.
I remember reading that Ulti came with some confirmed upgrade certificates (or whatever they are called). Has this been discontinued? No one seems mentioning them as an Ulti benefit. Many airlines have such benefit for their top tier (even below Ulti), so I assume AF followed the trend.
They exist. But only for upgrades from Y to J. Pointless for some.
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Old Sep 2, 18, 9:21 am
  #1434  
 
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Originally Posted by Macaron54 View Post

Let me play the devil's advocate here. While I understand that the Ultimate program management has not yet succeeded in having the KL staff at AMS cower and heed their directives (resulting in a gross imbalance with CDG), the promised benefits are offered at outstations (at least at a number of them), and come in different flavors. ORD remains my top one in terms of service, with expedited TSA and ProVision scanner clearance, and table reservation at the crammed third-party lounge. At BOS, the deal with the TSAs must be somewhat different, line-cutting being less systematic. At HKG, the escort service is just as effective, though the sparse PAXs at immigration and security every time I went through them makes it difficult to assess whether the staff working on behalf of AF is empowered to jump the line. At PEK, no line cutting for passport control, but expedited scanner clearance by means of a certificate handed at check-in time. At CAN, in the event of a short connection, both passport-control and scanner lines are jumped. At SCL, none of the above, but a (useless) escort throughout the security filters, reminiscent of a meet & greet service at CDG without any vehicle. In short, zero advantage. All in all, depending on the airport, the gain in time can be considerable (a solid hour sometimes at ORD), or simply nil, but I would not go as far as saying that the benefit of being Ultimate is zero. Just uneven and inconsistent, as we have all experienced it.
The question remains whether these benefits are attractive enough to justify privileging AFKL to the level of 1,800 XPs in order to obtain the status and have access to the benefits.
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Old Sep 2, 18, 10:27 am
  #1435  
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
For someone who will now never reach Ulti but periodically fly AF, that thread is fascinating.
I remember reading that Ulti came with some confirmed upgrade certificates (or whatever they are called). Has this been discontinued? No one seems mentioning them as an Ulti benefit. Many airlines have such benefit for their top tier (even below Ulti), so I assume AF followed the trend.
If you have the patience and time, just go back in this thread and they were announced and discussed. 2 upgrades certificates/year, valid for the Ultimate member or one of his/her listed companion. It was introduced this year. Valid from Y or W to J. Very easy to use (very few restrictions) and guaranteed instant upgrade at the time of booking. This is certainly a nice benefit. One can regret it's only 2.
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Old Sep 2, 18, 1:15 pm
  #1436  
 
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
The question remains whether these benefits are attractive enough to justify privileging AFKL to the level of 1,800 XPs in order to obtain the status and have access to the benefits.

Let me play again the devil's advocate here, and ask whether LH HON circle and DL Diamond/360 were what they are today when they were launched, or did they go through a learning curve to eventually meet the needs of the top-tier customers of the airline. You are absolutely right inasmuch as 1,800 UXPs represent a massive number of flights with AFKL, and the benefits have been hitherto below expectation, notably in terms of consistency. I am ready, however, to bite the bullet and give it a chance to see where this is going. The hope is that the Ultimate program will progressively align with its competitors, offering more perks and freebees (additional upgrade certificates and the like).
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Old Sep 3, 18, 1:57 am
  #1437  
 
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Originally Posted by Macaron54 View Post
Let me play again the devil's advocate here, and ask whether LH HON circle and DL Diamond/360 were what they are today when they were launched, or did they go through a learning curve to eventually meet the needs of the top-tier customers of the airline. .
I cannot tell you anything about Delta. For M&M HON Circle, they actually got it right from the start. All the main elements - First Class Lounges and First Class Terminal, car service, booking guarantee, upgrade vouchers, escort service, being on top of op-up lists, generosity with after sales complaints - were in place right from the start. There were changes afterwards, but actually they took things away! The one thing most people missed - and still miss - was the best call centre any airline could have with a dedicated HON team, the famous "Kassel team". My God, they were good. Complex itineraries, little tricks and quirks with fares and bookings - they knew all the tricks, and had great fun "collaborating" with passengers on tricky problems. I sent them flowers and boxes of chocolate every year and on several other occasions. They knew many of the passengers. Since Kassel went, the Lufthansa line seems to be the normal SEN line just with faster response time (which is still great: usually after one or two tings). I've since used the LX line more often, they are close to what Kassel used to be.

But other things went away as well: the 50% earnings premium, earning HON miles on UA/US (this was in the early days, when US was still part of the LH/UA trans-Atlantic alliance), most (all?) of the Hotel status partnerships (HONs had highest status on Hyatt, Hilton, Kempinski, etc), free newspaper subscriptions (Financial Times, many other European papers and magazines). And, more radically: some years into the program, when the airlines feared that it was becoming too crowded or had already become too crowded, they changed the qualification criteria. The number of HON Circle miles to qualify was still 600,000 over two years, but now only First Class and Business Class tickets counted towards the status. Under the old scheme this was the equivalent of 70 flights in Business Class from Frankfurt to New York, or 240 intra-Europe flights in the higher priced Business Class buckets. Few people ever qualified with only Economy Class flights, but many were those who had a healthy mix of premium and Economy flights to reach the qualification level. Some new things were introduced as well, for instance a private entrance at ZRH airport, which all pax leaving from Switzerland greatly appreciate. Another nice gesture: there were two years where at the end of the year LH made a gift of 30,000 HON miles to every member, because those had been strike years. The logic was that people could not fly LH as much as they might have wanted to, so the airline wanted to be "fair" and thus gave 10% of the yearly requirement as a gift.

As a data point: there never was a "roll over scheme". Your HON Circle miles reset to zero at the start of the calendar year. And - funnily enough for people who also follow this thread and who are used to the roll-over scheme that exist also for lower levels in Flying Blue - nobody ever complained about that.

There were a couple of threads over in the LH forum complaining about how HON had become less attractive, about 4-5 years ago. However, these days, few criticisms of the structure or working or benefits of the HON programme. Criticisms about how certain services are delivered - e.g., the escorts in some airports are deemed useless - and from DYKWIAs, who complain about having to share their limo ride to the plane with others, or even - shocking! - use a van instead of the Mercedes S Class or the Porsche Panamera. Many are in the same place as I: it could be (significantly) improved in a number of ways, but when I look at alternatives - FB ULTI would be one as Paris is one of my home bases - then I realize that M&M HON is still by far the best thing around. I would never ever re-direct any travel to AFKL only to obtain ULTI, the benefits in terms of making my travel more efficient and comfortable are just laughable (however, the reason I still watch this thread is to keep an eye on whether it develops into something I would find attractive). For HON however, I do make sure that I requalify (I usually do anyway), it's something that I would not like to miss. If you ask the question from an airline perspective of who has succeeded in loyalising passengers: LH/LX definitely have. AFKL, you tell me. I think I see some cracks in the front of enthusiasm.

Thus, after this long look back in history, to answer your question: yes, in terms of benefits, M&M HON Circle did get things right, right from the beginning.
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Old Sep 3, 18, 6:33 pm
  #1438  
 
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San Gottardo, your post was a perfect resumee of the situation with HON! To make it short from my side: they understood from the very beginning what very frequent travellers need the most: comfort! The limousine service, 1st class lounge, and fast track with escort. All others are just a nice to have.

I had a guy sharing the same Porsche Panamera with me a few weeks ago, and who didn’t stop complaining that it’s a shame to share cars when being HON. I told him that being ULTI at AFKL he would share a bus with 100 other passengers. He just replied: AFKL? You seriously fly with them? . While being arrogant, I think he was very clear in his explanation. They are only a few airlines in the world who are able to provide the very high end service a very frequent traveller needs, and obvioulsy LH Group is one of them, while AFKL is not. I would personally add SQ to that list.

Pity that I will probably loose the HON status by the end of the year. I will seriously miss it...

... while I would not miss anything from ULTI back to Platinum when being a frequent KL traveller.
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Old Sep 4, 18, 4:20 am
  #1439  
 
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Originally Posted by Pamplona View Post
... the situation with HON! To make it short from my side: they understood from the very beginning what very frequent travellers need the most: comfort!
To be honest, for me the "comfort" part is secondary to the "efficiency" part. A close second, but second. Knowing that I'll have a seat on the plane that I need to take thanks to booking guarantee, that I won't have to spend a long time in some line (check-in, security, immigration), the fact of not having to spend time on buses (thanks to limo in some places), the fact of knowing that even when I am pressed for time I can get something decent to eat. The "comfort" is obviously close second, but frankly as long as I can go through security with two people ahead of me instead of 20 or 200, then I care less if the lounge after security has a large whiskey bar or if the scrambled eggs have truffles in them.

And this is the one observation I have often about AF: they are doing a great job on comfort/luxury/aesthetics, but less so on efficiency. As an example: the cuisine and design of their Premiere Salon beats *any* of the First Class Terminals/FCLs of Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian out of the ballpark (with the possible exception of the terrace of the FCL in Zurich with the great view on the Alps). But then compare the journey: to use the Premiere Lounge in Paris I need to battle on the access road to Terminal 2E, walk through the terminal building to the "check-in lounge", where I have to wait for some paper checks. Then walk even more - albeit with an escort - show passport, go through security, walk to the lounge. The entire thing takes 15-20 minutes. Compare that to the FCT: separate building, separate access road, the escort takes you right from the car to the security filter which is less than 10 meters from the car, they take your passport and the checks happen in the background, and you're in. Takes 2 minutes. Similar thing at Zurich with its dedicated entrance to the First Class Lounge in Terminal A: you don't even get to step on any of the air-side real estate used by "normal" passengers. I have turned up for intercontinental flights at FRA 30 minutes before departure, and it wasn't a problem. I have turned up 1h 10minutes at the Premiere counter in 2E, and they all made sourly faces and in the lounge did not miss an opportunity to point out to me with an almost reprimanding tone that I wouldn't have enough time to use this or that offering in the lounge. They couldn't imagine that I don't give a toss about the spa or the bar and that all I wanted was to spend as little time as possible from door to door between Paris and wherever I was going. The AF philosophy works great if you have time to indulge in all the luxury and comfort, but if you travel so much it wears off and you start caring more about going through the airport quickly than about the luxury of what in the end is just a lounge - where "lounge" is just a word to say "a less unpleasant place to be neither where you want to be (home, work, ...) nor what brings you closer to where you want to go (on the plane)".

In that sense, what would make ULTI more attractive to me would be to have an ULTI channel/escort at security and passport at every terminal, even if I fly with my family on an award ticket in Economy to Toulon or Lorient. Upgrade vouchers? Yeah, nice to have. But I'll trade time savings 200 times a year against comfort twice a year. I think if I told my wife that she can see me 30 minutes longer before/after every trip she would pay me the upgrade in cash every time. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't take the upgrade vouchers, but they matter less.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old Sep 4, 18, 4:45 am
  #1440  
 
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1st class AF Lounge

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
To be honest, for me the "comfort" part is secondary to the "efficiency" part. A close second, but second. Knowing that I'll have a seat on the plane that I need to take thanks to booking guarantee, that I won't have to spend a long time in some line (check-in, security, immigration), the fact of not having to spend time on buses (thanks to limo in some places), the fact of knowing that even when I am pressed for time I can get something decent to eat. The "comfort" is obviously close second, but frankly as long as I can go through security with two people ahead of me instead of 20 or 200, then I care less if the lounge after security has a large whiskey bar or if the scrambled eggs have truffles in them.

And this is the one observation I have often about AF: they are doing a great job on comfort/luxury/aesthetics, but less so on efficiency. As an example: the cuisine and design of their Premiere Salon beats *any* of the First Class Terminals/FCLs of Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian out of the ballpark (with the possible exception of the terrace of the FCL in Zurich with the great view on the Alps). But then compare the journey: to use the Premiere Lounge in Paris I need to battle on the access road to Terminal 2E, walk through the terminal building to the "check-in lounge", where I have to wait for some paper checks. Then walk even more - albeit with an escort - show passport, go through security, walk to the lounge. The entire thing takes 15-20 minutes. Compare that to the FCT: separate building, separate access road, the escort takes you right from the car to the security filter which is less than 10 meters from the car, they take your passport and the checks happen in the background, and you're in. Takes 2 minutes. Similar thing at Zurich with its dedicated entrance to the First Class Lounge in Terminal A: you don't even get to step on any of the air-side real estate used by "normal" passengers. I have turned up for intercontinental flights at FRA 30 minutes before departure, and it wasn't a problem. I have turned up 1h 10minutes at the Premiere counter in 2E, and they all made sourly faces and in the lounge did not miss an opportunity to point out to me with an almost reprimanding tone that I wouldn't have enough time to use this or that offering in the lounge. They couldn't imagine that I don't give a toss about the spa or the bar and that all I wanted was to spend as little time as possible from door to door between Paris and wherever I was going. The AF philosophy works great if you have time to indulge in all the luxury and comfort, but if you travel so much it wears off and you start caring more about going through the airport quickly than about the luxury of what in the end is just a lounge - where "lounge" is just a word to say "a less unpleasant place to be neither where you want to be (home, work, ...) nor what brings you closer to where you want to go (on the plane)".

In that sense, what would make ULTI more attractive to me would be to have an ULTI channel/escort at security and passport at every terminal, even if I fly with my family on an award ticket in Economy to Toulon or Lorient. Upgrade vouchers? Yeah, nice to have. But I'll trade time savings 200 times a year against comfort twice a year. I think if I told my wife that she can see me 30 minutes longer before/after every trip she would pay me the upgrade in cash every time. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't take the upgrade vouchers, but they matter less.

Just my 2 cents.
i do agree totally with your analysis, not the conclusions. I have been living in Singapore, where efficiency of Changi airport is legendary. To improve even more efficiency, Singapore Airlines 1st class dedicated entrance, with dedicated immigration officer and lounge access 3mn walking distance is what you are looking for. It is accessible to 1st class passengers of course but also to PPS members ( the elite status of Singapore Airlines) . In between 5 and 10 mn you can arrive at the terminal and rest at the lounge, anytime. On the other side in Paris you are right , 1st class AF lounge is the best in the world, because it is small and exclusive, with outstanding food and wine by Mr Ducasse , and a spa with 30 complimentary ( just 15 at Emirates lounge in Dubai) , but indeed an arrival and a process to checkin and to screen at 2E pretty long. But for me it is not a real problem due to traffic jams to reach CDG,, and thus the need to leave my office at least 3 or 4 hrs before. So , I have decided now to arrive 6 hours before takeoff, to work in the lounge and enjoy food and spa to relax.

So for me the best perks that could give AF to its Ultimate customers would be an access to 1st class lounges and escorting.

but I am not Ultimate ( and do not plan to be) , so ....
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