Star Alliance plans to introduce a credit card for earning miles with the frequent flyer program of one of its 26 member airlines.
While almost every airline offers a variety of credit cards in their own market, this Star Alliance-branded card would be a first for the global group.
The card will debut in a single country later this year, although Star Alliance has yet to reveal which country it will be or which financial institution will be backing the card – and “if we’re successful, we’ll roll it out across the country.” next market in the year,” Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh revealed during an overnight press conference.
The move should see Star Alliance introduce its own form of rewards currency, even if it simply acts as an internal exchange mechanism for card spend to be converted into points or miles with a Star Alliance member airline.
“You’ll spend on your credit card and collect points,” Goh said. Executive Traveler. “These points are convertible into miles on the loyalty program of your choice.”
Leveraging airline loyalty programs in highly profitable businesses “is quite the holy grail for most individual airlines,” Goh said, and Star Alliance expects to realize a similar revenue stream from its own brand card.
Star Alliance points and advantages on the railways?
Goh also said Star Alliance would add a “non-airline partner” to its list, with hints that it could be one of the European rail operators.
Rail has long been an alternative to air travel for many business travellers, particularly on European rapid rail services, and recent years have seen a continued shift towards rail driven by environmental considerations.
Star Alliance member Swiss already has a “Swiss Air Rail” partnership with the Swiss Federal Railways SBB connecting Zurich Airport to SBB stations in Basel, Lugano and Geneva, and will launch a new Swiss Air Rail line between Munich Hauptbahnhof and Zurich Airport in July 2022.
With six trains a day running in both directions, the train ticket can be included in the Swiss airfare; travelers will earn Miles & More points by traveling on the rails, while first and business class travelers as well as HON Circle and Senator customers will enjoy the DB Lounge at Munich Hauptbahnhof.
All travelers using Swiss Air Rail to or from Munich will also benefit from automatic seat reservation and free WiFi access.
France now ban air travel on journeys where there is an alternative train or bus of less than 2h30, such as from Paris to Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon
European high-speed rail operators continue to capture a large portion of the business travel marketwith the ‘Green Speed’ merger between Eurostar and its Franco-Belgian rival Thalys increasing the reach and continued attractiveness of their network.
Meanwhile, French startup Midnight Trains aims to reinventing night trains as a “luxury hotel on rails” experience offering private suites with their own bathrooms, and a seasonal menu with à la carte cocktails or room service.
The network of luxury sleeper trains would radiate from Paris to the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and Denmark from 2024.
Go big on biometrics
Goh also revealed that more than 60,000 frequent flyers have now signed up to use the fast biometric gates he has installed at airports in Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg and Vienna.
Participating passengers of Star Alliance members Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines use their passports and their airline’s app to pass through security and special biometric boarding gates on a fast ‘contactless’ basis.
“We are now in advanced discussions on rolling out in the terminal,” Goh said, “for baggage drop, pre-security, lounge access and also for boarding.”
“All the infrastructure changes that will have to be put in place require significant investment. I think it won’t be too long… we’re talking about 12 to 24 months, before the equipment is available to be installed at the airport.
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