Well, this is a sad day – and with possibly a sadder one to come (in terms of ‘first world problems’, of course).
Regular readers will remember the trip review of my Swiss First Class flight from Zurich to Boston last month. This is what I wrote. It was a genuinely outstanding trip, especially the food, which was the best I have ever had on a plane.
It doesn’t look as if I’ll be doing it again in a hurry, though.
Swiss has announced that, from 1st January 2014, First Class awards will only be bookable for Miles & More members with Senator (Gold) or HON Circle (super, super elite) status, and only for their personal use.
That counts me out, as I am only Frequent Traveller (Silver) status, and – short of another status match – I will never get back to Senator.
You could have seen this coming. Swiss First has been blocked to other Star Alliance airlines for a year or so. However, you have to think that their motivation here is a bit odd. After all, there are only so many Senator members – and most of those are in Germany.
Swiss First also requires disproportionately more miles, compared to business class, than most other reward charts, so its not as if people were falling over themselves to redeem for it.
The big question now is whether Lufthansa will follow suit. Because Lufthansa has so many First Class seats to sell each day, it would be a little surprising if they did restrict it. However, I wouldn’t put anything past them.
Luckily for me, my Miles & More balance is now down to roughly 1,000. My wife has exactly enough to get our family down to the Middle East on holiday, so that will empty her account. (If I was planning another F redemption, I would transfer some Amex points to Starwood and then move them across.)
A side lesson from this move is that holding your points in multi-convertible currencies such as Amex Membership Rewards points is very valuable. One door has closed here, but – for most places in the world – there are other options and Amex points let you redeem into airlines which are members of all three major alliances, plus Etihad.