The Star Alliance was founded the day after I was born (which can’t be a coincidence). 😉 Last weekend they celebrated their 20th anniversary in Frankfurt with 27 member airlines in attendance. However, a lot has changed since the alliance was formed, especially technology.
Up until now, Star Alliance award programs have varied widely in online award availability and booking options. While United MileagePlus shows almost all Star Alliance award space, SAS Eurobonus only displays flights on SAS, for example.
Well, in my recent interview with Eivind Roald, CCO at Scandinavian Airlines, I learned about plans to develop a shared award booking system across the Star Alliance before the end of 2017. The IT is allegedly being developed by Star Alliance, as opposed to individual airlines, and will make award booking and search much easier. As he said, we should soon be able to book award seats on any airline without picking up the phone.
What wasn’t too clear was whether or not this would be implemented across the whole alliance. Since Star Alliance is developing it, I can’t imagine why the software would only be utilized by SAS.
One airline where this should be especially useful is Avianca. Their loyalty program LifeMiles offers some of the best prices on purchases miles. Unfortunately, their website can be tough to use, and many award seats don’t even show up in searches. If this software really is shared across the alliance, you could potentially see all Star Alliance award space and book directly in Avianca’s search engine.
Regardless of which Star Alliance program you use, this is potentially very exciting news. If airlines offer award seats on partners, there’s no reason not to display the space online. Call centers are getting more costly by the day, and I’m sure this will significantly lighten the loads on certain airlines. The other day Lufthansa wanted to charge me €45 for a standard economy class telephone booking — EXCUSE ME?!
My one worry is the that synchronization of airline programs will also lead to some kind of synchronized award costs or fees. In the industry as a whole, pain-free award bookings are becoming harder to come by, so this would be an unusual move by the Star Alliance if it’s actually as positive as it sounds.
How do you interpret what Mr. Roald said in the interview? Do you believe this will impact award programs across the Star Alliance or only Eurobonus?