"swiss" goes the extra mile for frequent flyers

Air miles have finally been upgraded according to the metric system

Switzerland's new national carrier is offering frequent fliers the chance to increase their air miles by transforming them into kilometres.

This content was published on April 1, 2002 minutes

Loyal passengers who chalked up air miles with the defunct Swissair's frequent flyer programme can have their miles converted into "air kilometres" with the successor airline "swiss".

Every air mile accumulated will be multiplied by 1.6 as per the usual imperial/metric conversion.

Crossair chief executive, André Dosé, said the effect would be "to substantially increase a passenger's total number of frequent flyer points, which can be used for upgrades to higher classes as well as other benefits".

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Going metric

The concept of converting air miles into kilometres was the brainchild of marketing guru, Tyler Brûlé, who also came up with the name "swiss" for the new national airline.

He told swissinfo that the airline was as Swiss as Swiss could be, and for that reason, it had dispensed with the antiquated imperial system of measuring distance in miles.

"The Swiss want nothing more to do with miles," said Brûlé. "The country is entirely metricated - has been for years - and so it makes sense to convert air miles into a measurement that the Swiss can understand."

Dosé concurred: "First of all the concept in the new airline is entirely Swiss - it has all the Swiss core values - and miles have never played a role in this country so we're going back to metric."

But he added that the airline was still considering whether to retain the term "frequent flyer points" so as not to alienate American and British passengers who are more comfortable with the imperial system.

Brûlé is believed to have wanted to use the term "kilos", but was overruled by heavyweights on the board of Swiss Air Lines, which owns swiss.

Good deal for some

Consumer organisations welcomed the move as a good deal, but the Association of Frequent Flyers said it would mainly benefit business and first class passengers.

"It really won't make much difference to economy class passengers," said spokeswoman, Maria Aeschlimann. "Some might get a little closer to an upgrade to business class, but for most, it will amount to nothing more than a free drink in the VIP lounge."


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