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TRAVELLER-FRIENDLY: The national airline clarifies how its Enrich programme works
MY column on MAS last week triggered many email responses. Such is the passion shown by customers (read paymasters) of the national airline.
The emails reflected the dismay and disappointment in the national airline. From the tone of their responses, these passengers were ready to ditch MAS.
One email said: "There are many reasons why passengers stop flying MAS. The worst reason could be they are upset with MAS for one reason or another.
"Competition is so stiff these days. Even government travels are more open these days and not only restricted to MAS."
MAS, to its credit, also emailed me its response. I reproduce here a big portion of the reply: "There were two membership levels for this frequent flyer programme, namely Blue and Gold. The qualifying criteria for 'Enrich Gold' were very stringent, making it a very exclusive product. The Platinum membership was introduced in 2002 to recognise the cream of the Malaysia Airlines frequent travellers then.
"Subsequently, arising from customer feedback, Malaysia Airlines launched its enhanced 'Enrich' Loyalty & Frequent Flyer Programme on July 11, 2006. The revised Enrich programme made it easier and provided greater flexibility for Enrich members to earn and redeem their points.
"Through this enhancement, members had the opportunity to enjoy a new lifestyle experience. They were able to earn Enrich miles from different classes of fares, including selected promotional fares, or when they patronised the products and services of our 4,000 partner hotels, credit card companies, car rental providers and lifestyle retailers.
"Likewise, members were also able to redeem their miles for not only just air tickets, but also for Enrich vouchers which allows for access to our Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounges worldwide as well as for our 'Temptations' in-flight shopping and purchase of excess baggage allowance.
"Enrich also introduced 'fee-based' services that provided flexibility for members to extend the validity of their expiring miles and for transfer or purchase of more miles for redemptions.
"Another significant enhancement to the enhanced Enrich programme was the introduction of the Enrich Silver membership, placed as the next tier after basic Enrich Blue. This was introduced to bridge the gap between the then existing Blue and Gold membership. It was also timely as Malaysia Airlines was committed to attracting more 'leisure-focused and business-interested' customers who will get sufficient Elite miles to move up the next tier faster and enjoy enhanced privileges sooner.
"The qualifying criterion for Enrich Silver was 25,000 Elite miles or 40 Elite Sectors per calendar year and 50,000 Elite miles or 80 Elite Sectors per calendar year for Enrich Gold status. The same criteria also applied for status renewal every subsequent year. The membership term of an Elite Tier Status is the year in which the Enrich Member qualifies plus the period Jan 1 to Dec 31 of the following year.
"As part of the programme terms and conditions, status of each membership is reviewed in March each year since 2000. Notwithstanding this review, there is always a 'soft landing' policy adopted to enable members to regain their lost status sooner in the same year with sufficient travel on Malaysia Airlines. Hence, where members do not meet criteria to maintain their original membership tier, Platinum will be reclassified to Gold, Gold to Silver and Silver to Blue. This continued until 2009 but due to the economic situation in 2010 and 2011, Malaysia Airlines decided to retain the status quo of all Elite tiers to encourage the Enrich members' continued patronage of Malaysia Airlines.
"Further enhancements were made to the programme in May, 2011 by relaxing the Elite tier Miles and sector counts eligibility, especially for the Platinum tier, making it easier to achieve the Elite status. Through this revamp, short haul frequent travellers were able to achieve elite status much faster. Enrich regularly communicates to the members on their Elite status through Account statements which are sent to them on a quarterly basis when they have had activity during the previous three months and this information is also readily available to them through Enrich Online.
"It was indeed unfortunate that some members had their Elite Tier status reviewed as they did not meet the qualifying criteria, but this was done only after they were allowed from January, 2011 to December, 2011 to clock up sufficient Elite Miles/sectors to retain their membership status.
"We also wish to clarify that this process is timely as we need to raise our frequent flyer programme product to match the requirements of oneworld, the global airline alliance, which Malaysia Airlines will be joining by the end of this year.
"One of the eligibility criteria for such membership is strict compliance and synchronisation of Enrich to the current frequent flyer arrangements amongst oneworld alliance partners for customers to enjoy Elite Tier benefits with any of the member airline.
"We hope the above clarifies how the Enrich frequent programme works and why some Enrich members have had their tier status reviewed. For further enquiries, members may contact our Malaysia Airlines call centre at 1300 88 3000."