This is a roundup of news and other interesting pieces that I’ve come across over the last few days. Read about mileage runs in Japan, tents for Qatar World Cup fans, some interesting details about airline loyalty programs, new experience for Marriott Bonvoy members and Uber/Lyft lawsuit.
Air travelers from Tokyo whose sole purpose is to ratchet up air miles to stay ahead of reward programs are descending in droves at Okhotsk Monbetsu Airport here in far northern Japan–and then often taking the return trip back to Tokyo just 30 or so minutes later.
One individual has visited more than 50 times. Seventeen day trippers flew back to Tokyo on the lunchtime flight one day, accounting for almost half of the flight’s 36 passengers.
The final tournament runs between November 21 and December 18 in the Middle East with fans from 32 countries descending on the five host cities that include capital Doha as well as Lusail, Al Khor, Al Rayyan and Al Wakrah.
Although the majority of fans will be offered up hotel spaces for the duration of their stay, a creative solution is needed in addition to the 100,000 rooms, as detailed by Qatari organization planning accommodation boss Omar Al Jaber.
Most mileage today is earned by people who aren’t even flying, through purchases on airline mileage program-linked credit cards — 58% of all mileage earned is earned on the ground.
The airlines like to boast to Wall Street the real value of their reward programs. And they often celebrate the financial success of these programs by how low the redemption rate is for miles — in some cases 8%. As travelers flock back to airplanes post-pandemic, airlines are even more reluctant to displace revenue passengers, and that redemption rate for frequent flyer miles could drop further.
Using Marriott Bonvoy points accumulated from travel, everyday activities and purchases on Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit cards, members now have access to two new categories on the platform:
- “Throwbacks”: Ever wanted to cruise in the Batmobile or re-live your favorite 00s cult classic movie? With more than half of consumers seeking comfort in familiar, nostalgic content1, this first new category speaks to this desire for experiences that evoke the memories of simpler times.
- “Tailor Made”: We all know there’s nothing like a one-of-a-kind piece, and this second new category appeals to today’s discerning travelers who appreciate this craftsmanship and personalization, giving members a special, made-to-order item to serve as a memory of their experience forever.
A group of drivers claimed on Tuesday that Uber and Lyft are engaging in anticompetitive practices by setting the prices customers pay and limiting drivers’ ability to choose which rides they accept without penalty. The drivers, supported by the advocacy group Rideshare Drivers United, made the novel legal argument in a state lawsuit that targets the long-running debate about the job status of gig economy workers.
For years, Uber and Lyft have argued that their drivers should be considered independent contractors rather than employees under labor laws, meaning they would be responsible for their own expenses and not typically eligible for unemployment insurance or health benefits. In exchange, the companies argued, drivers could set their own hours and maintain more independence than they could if they were employees.