The useless Aer Lingus ‘Gold Circle Club’.

If you fly on Aer Lingus and are thinking of joining their so-called ‘Gold Circle Club’ – don’t bother. You will be completely wasting your time.

I am (supposedly) a member of the Gold Circle Club and so is my mother.

In the past year we have booked many flights with Aer Lingus, and apparently (in theory) have accumulated air miles from flights back and forth to places as varied as London (several times), Berlin, New York, Washington, Chicago, Southend and the Isle of Man.

However, the true nature of the programme is revealed when you try to:

  1. Register as a full Gold Circle Club member; or
  2. Claim air miles for flights taken on Aer Lingus; or
  3. Use accumulated air miles to book flights or to attempt to access ‘a range of quality services provided by our programme partners’ (Aer Lingus website).

First of all, you don’t become a full member straight away after registration – you are merely classed as a ‘Gold Circle Club Applicant’ (thanks for the privilege Aer Lingus):

  • Quote: Your account is currently at applicant status. Applicant Points cannot be         redeemed for awards either with Aer Lingus or its partners”

Next, when you try to claim air miles for certain flights (which you have already taken, or are about to take) – you are told that such claims are ineligible:

  • Quote: We are unable to action this as the flights in question were booked under a Sale/Discounted fare and do not qualify for points”

Thirdly, when you actually try to use the miles that you have accumulated, further conditions are introduced:

  • Quote: To become a Gold Circle Club member you need to earn 2,400 Application points within a 12-month period (excluding bonus points or non-air partner points). Gold Circle Club membership cannot be purchased. You have earned 800 points in the last 12 months”

It’s very enlightening to look at the language that Aer Lingus (@AerLingus) use to structure and manage their ‘Frequent Flyer Programme’ (the one that doesn’t allow most loyal customers to get off the ground in reality).

cannot be redeemed

we are unable to action

do not qualify

excluding bonus points

cannot be purchased

etc. etc. etc.

It makes you wonder why Aer Lingus bothered to set up the scheme (and it is a ‘scheme’ – make no mistake about that) in the first place, when it constantly requires the airline to give negative answers to its patrons.

Customers are frustated and confused by these restrictions and suspect that Aer Lingus does not give a jot about its regular flyers, but habours a bias towards business travellers (hence the 2,400 points required within a year to actually become a fully functioning member of the ‘club’.).

Futhermore, time has to be wasted by customers in seeking clarification on their entitlements (or lack thereof) AND by Aer Lingus staff who must reply with further negative answers.

One of the cardinal rules of business is to try to avoid saying no to customers if there is a chance to say yes and an opportunity to engage in a successful transaction or relationship.

Bearing this in mind, I’d like to say in specific terms, and directly to Aer Lingus:

Don’t set up a Frequent Flyer Programme if your heart is not in it and you really have no intention of using it to provide any additional benefits or bonuses to the vast majority of your customers; especially when your real intention is just to squeeze as much money as possible out of them. 

In this day and age people can see through such tactics and Aer Lingus would be better advised not to have a Frequent Flyer Programme at all (like Ryanair) – rather than finding it necessary to put restrictions upon, or make negative and misleading statements and claims to passengers.

Here are some other links, with comments from other consumers regarding the Aer Lingus Gold Circle Club. On the next page of this blog post I have included a reply I sent to John at Aer Lingus this morning. Safe flying people.

Am i alone in being completely bemused by how Aer Lingus’ gold circle works?

Aer Lingus Gold Circle – Useless?

fed up with gold circle customer services

Aer Lingus

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About Adam Byrne

Freelance Entrepreneur
This entry was posted in Business, Marketing, Organizational Behaviour, Personal, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to The useless Aer Lingus ‘Gold Circle Club’.

  1. jrouistiti says:

    We had the same problem with Lufthansa Frequent Flyer status – only they didn’t EVER bother to even glance at our applications! It just never happened – we never received our cards, never received any communication from them at all, and wasted time again and again filling out the paperwork, checking on it, trying to contact them…

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Thanks for your comment Jennifer. It’s seems Aer Lingus and Lufthansa just do it to keep up with the Joneses then, but without any real appetite to reward their customers. At least I did get a flight from British Airways and I still have points with them which I expect will come in handy another time. They, and other airlines do it properly unlike the two we have discussed. Hope you and the family are well and have a good 2014.

  2. Adam Byrne says:

    Submitted to Aer Lingus through RED C satisfaction survey today:

    I am very VERY unhappy with being on the Applicant list for the Gold Circle Club for a number of years now. I have taken numerous flights with Aer Lingus yet I assume that I have not been credited with them. WHY AM I STILL ON THE APPLICANT LIST AFTER ALL THIS TIME!? My membership number is 7777944841. Please add me to the Gold Circle Club or provide an explanation why I should continue to use Aer Lingus if you have no intention of admitting me. I think the policies and action of Aer Lingus in relation to the Gold Circle Club are very opaque, duplicitous, discriminatory and devious.

  3. This is not the first time I’ve heard complaints about the so called “Gold Circle Club”. Aer Lingus needs to decide what kind of airline it is, as opposed to sitting on the fence between a no-frills and a top class airline. It left the Oneworld airline alliance in 2007 so maybe it’s now time to abandon its loyalty programme too.

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Thanks for your comment Darragh. I wasn’t even aware that they were once in the One World Alliance but I’m not surprised they left given their attitude to their current frequent flyer clients.

      I couldn’t abandon it though, even if I wanted to (which I would) because I am still on the ‘pending member status’ (or whatever they call it) which means I can keep adding the miles that I use (and I use a lot because my little girl lives near Washington DC) but I never get any credit for them, my membership does not get final approval and I will never actually be able to use any frequent flyer miles.

      That’s the kind of attitude from them that puts companies out of business.

      All the best, Adam.

  4. Andy says:

    Hi Adam,

    I read your post with interest – only saw it this morning, sorry. I’ve been formerly an EI Gold (and whatever came above that…Silver perhaps) but via status matching with BMI before they were bought out a few years back. Before that, like yourself, I struggled to get on EI’s radar at all and stayed as an ‘applicant’ for a very long time previously.

    Yes, it’s not the easiest laid-out, and I completely agree that calculating and assuring yourself of X amount of miles per flight is tricky if not impossible but I would say for them that, if you only fly Aer Lingus exclusively, then once you get onto a ‘tier’, they do tend to look after you and things are much better after that (until, in my case, you don’t earn enough miles and without any warning are dropped back to applicant again).

    Could I suggest though, maybe apply for the British Airways Executive Club instead? You can also earn with Aer Lingus (plus all the other Oneworld airlines – actually, it reads like you have one already?) that way and while some of the miles earned are a bit less than Aer Lingus would give, I’ve found their transparency and crediting genuine miles far better and faster?

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Hi Andy, thanks a lot for your comment.

      Yes I am already a member of the British Airways Executive Club and I have received a couple of free flights off them in the past two or three years so in future that’s what I’ll do.

      I’m flying to Liverpool with Aer Lingus this weekend, then to the Isle of Man with them two weeks after that – then Berlin another two weeks after that.

      I would have already entered my Aer Lingus (not active and useless) Frequent Flier number when booking those flights but I’ll try to change them to the Oneworld (or BA) number.

      No doubt I’ll be told by Aer Lingus “NO YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” – more obstructionism and negative correspondence. I really think they are dishonest, ignorant and arrogant. The sooner they are bought out by IAG the better as far as I’m concerned.

      Safe travels Andy.

      Adam.

      • Adam Byrne says:

        PS. However, doesn’t Darragh above say that Aer Lingus have actually left the One World Alliance?

      • Andy says:

        Hi Adam,

        Yes and Darragh’s dead right – but I think BA crediting EI-flying cardholders stems more from the sheer amount of business Aer Lingus passes BA for long-haul flights (especially before BA re-started their own flights to Dublin in the last few years). They also credit to Qantas, Cathay and United, which alliance-wise is all over the place.

        Honestly, if I were you and if you have a physical BA Exec Club card (of any level), I’d just take it along and present it firmly at check-in/bag drop/anything before the gate and insist it was a mistake or some terrible oversight and could they change it to the BA number. That said…sorry to say you could be right and will get nowhere.

        For example, I booked non-mileage flights by mistake once and offered to pay the difference to get into the mile-earning fare class as I badly needed the miles credited to stay in GC…i.e. give them more money for the same seat. No can do. Very odd I thought!

        Cheers

  5. James Wells says:

    Hi All,

    I can only concurr with all your sentaments ref AL/G/C.
    I fly with them 20/30 times a year and I still can’t become a GC member .
    Would be fantastic if all us frequent flyiers got together and said to AL right reward us or were off to an airline that actually wants our custom .
    It’s easier to pay the damm EU 25.00 to use the lounge in preference to putting up with the AL BULLXXXX and red tape .
    Is there anybody in the same boat ?.

    James Wells

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Hi James,

      Thanks for your comment, much appreciated.

      Seeing as a few people have commented on here with similar experiences of the wretched ‘Gold Circle Club’ (I love the similarity of the name to a bunch of scammers at Anglo Irish Bank – from one bunch of Irish scammers to another!)…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo_Irish_Bank_hidden_loans_controversy#The_.22Golden_Circle.22

      As I was saying, seeing as there have been a few comments, I decided last night to tweet my blog (again) directly to Aer Lingus. To be fair someone at the Social Media station in Aer Lingus did respond this morning but as usual they trotted out the party line of having to earn so many points in a 12 month period. I’ll insert a screenshot of that tweet at the bottom of the original blog post because I don’t think we can put images into replies.

      Aer Lingus don’t seem to understand that people feel scammed and get fed up of hearing excuses when every other airline on the planet either 1. doesn’t have a frequent flyer club and is honest about it or 2. gives you the points and lets you use them as you wish without all sorts of restrictions which means you have to chase them up only to be met with constant negative answers.

      We could contact the Consumer Show and ask them to look into it. Of course they are not doing anything illegal – it’s their company to do with as they wish but I would love for them to be exposed for the elitist, arrogant, ignorant, partly tax-payer-funded shower of mountebanks that they are. I told them to remove me from their precious ‘appliciant list’ and that they could find my applicant number in my original blog post above.

      All the best to everyone, safe flying (not on Aer Lingus!).

  6. Bob Harrison says:

    I was an Elite member wanting to take my wife to the U.S. With me on business so I applied for the reward flight. I had to plan well ahead so I was there on specific dates but could be flexible on flight dates before and after when I needed to be there. The reply I got is that they couldn’t confirm my wife’s reward seat until 3 weeks before the departure date ! How the hell was I supposed to make the arrangements whether to plan for and include my wife a mere 3 weeks before ? In the end I told them to shove it where the sun don’t shine ! If this is what I get as an elite member what chance have lower tier members got ? I’ve have since been downgraded to Prestige so on that basis I’m just not going to waste my time and will choose another airline. Just wish Emirates flew from the UK to the States .. The real pity is the Aer lingus flight is great for clearing immigration in Dublin and the staff onboard are really great . Don’t know why they don’t just dump this ridiculously restricted club . Bob

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Thanks for the comment Bob. Obviously there are a lot of ‘members’ who are not happy with how Aer Lingus are treating them in this regard so lets hope that they eventually sit up and take notice. Regards, Adam.

  7. James Cleary says:

    Whilst there are loads of problems with the Gold Circle Club, and it is in dire need of an overhaul (this has been on the cards a while and has been stated by Aer Lingus at corporate level over the last year or so), I don’t think it is fair to refer to it as a scam.

    In terms of registering for the programme, it is pretty clear through the Gold Circle section of the website that you must first register as an applicant, accumulate 2,400 points in a 12-month period, at which point you will become a member and receive your Gold Circle card. If becoming a Gold Circle Member was just a case of filling out a form, wouldn’t everyone join, thereby rendering the programme useless?

    In terms of earning points, ‘low/economy’ fares often don’t accumulate Gold Circle points. Again, it is clear on the Gold Circle website which fare classes do and do not qualify for Gold Circle Points (W, Z, A, U & T don’t qualify). If you are making a booking which falls into one of those fare classes, you can still earn GC points by paying the ‘Plus’ fare, which includes checked baggage, so at times it doesn’t work out to be much less. If you are paying €100 return to somewhere like Heathrow for instance, it’s safe to say that is the lowest fare class and you won’t get points credited to your account (you can always check yourself before booking by looking at the booking T&C which will show the current fare class). If you are paying €220 return to Heathrow however, you most likely will by traveling in a qualifying fare class. Where some people get caught out is if they do the majority of their traveling on a low-revenue route, meaning most bookings aren’t eligible for GC points, leaving the only option being paying the ‘Plus’ far to get points credited.

    I’ve heard others saying similar things about building points not being clear, but I have to say that if you take the time to read the info on the website, it is quite straightforward and I have found that it works exactly as expected. Most people’s complaints about the GCC aren’t so much about becoming a member; more so about the benefits upon achieving membership, which aside from lounge access, priority boarding, fast-track (where available), isn’t all that great.

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Thanks for your comment James.

      I’m clear on what the points requirements are to actually become a ‘member’ of the Gold Circle Club as Aer Lingus have reminded me with gusto on many occasions by now.

      The main point I’m trying to make I guess, is that I take lots of flights with Aer Lingus (although I always look for a second option now, given the fact that I don’t actually earn any air miles with them) and I’d like to get some sort of credit for that in line with what I get from other airlines who I also use frequently – that’s all.

      They can make up all the different ‘fare classes’ that they want – to try and avoid actually having a useful frequent flyer program (it seems to me), but these rules are not set in stone and I think it would be much better PR for them to overhaul the current system (as you mentioned) and bring in something far more friendly. I think it’s very detrimental to them to carry on with the current half-hearted effort – just look at the comments on this somewhat obscure blog post!

      We’ll see what happens.

  8. D Trump says:

    Thank you now I know I m not crazy this is a screwed up system they have in place

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Thanks a lot for your comment Mr. Trump. There are many people who are very disappointed with the nature of the so-called Gold Circle Club scheme (scam) run by Aer Lingus.

      Do feel free to share more details of your bad experiences with this scheme and good luck in the forthcoming US election campaign!

      PS. You could also send the URL of this blog, with your comment, to Aer Lingus on Twitter – address it to @aerlingus and use the hashtag #aerlingus – that usually gets a stock response from them about ‘it’s our policy to blah, blah, blah’ and makes them look ever worse – but at least it keeps reminding them of how crap they are.

      All the best, Adam.

  9. edmund says:

    glad to see your comments, I posted a question to their gold circle email account on their new web page and this is the response i go back….

    Delivery has failed to these recipients or groups:
    goldcircleusa@aerlingus.com
    The e-mail address you entered couldn’t be found. Please check the recipient’s e-mail address and try to resend the message. If the problem continues, please contact your helpdesk.

    enough said!!

  10. WW Liam says:

    Hi all,
    I have been travelling to and from Dublin and the UK every week for over 2 years now with the occasional midweek trip to the continent, and have been coming up against the machine that is the Gold Circle club. I got all the usual ‘your fares don’t qualify etc etc’ so I am stuck being an applicant. In an effort to clarify the situation I made a formal complaint to the advertising standards authority in Ireland. The nature of my complaint was that the AL GC club opening line states ‘The Gold Circle Club is the Aer Lingus Frequent Flyer Programme’ – so I said if its a frequent flyer programme, how does someone who travels every week not qualify (I was trying to get around the whole fares W, Z, A, U & T don’t qualify). Guess what, The ASAI upheld my complaint and told Aer Lingus to change the wording on the website. (Copy of letter from ASAI available if required). A victory for the small man you would think?? Aer Lingus informed the ASAI that they are mounting a legal challenge and that their lawyers would be in touch. There’s good customer service for you. If I had any option other than to use Aer Lingus I would. I am officially giving up, my 4500 applicant points will live in Ethernet limbo forever………

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Excellent information Liam and well done for pushing them. I can’t believe they are mounting a legal challenge – what planet are these guys on? Please keep us posted and feel free to use any of my comments on this blog to back up your case (if they will help). Regards, Adam.

  11. Adam Byrne says:

    This is funny – from the Irish Independent today:

    “A new frequent-flyer scheme to replace the airline’s popular Gold Circle Club will also be revealed in the coming weeks, called ‘Aer Club’.

    It will be a distinct Aer ­Lingus programme, as opposed to an IAG plan. It will provide more ­redemption opportunities with IAG’s other airlines and ­partners through a new ­common currency.”

    http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/aer-lingus-to-fly-three-new-routes-to-us-34120488.html

    the airline’s popular Gold Circle Club” – yes sure Aer Lingus, whatever you say.

    At least it might be replaced by a more functional program, but I’ll bet that anyone who is still at ‘applicant status’ for the Gold Circle Club will not be able to transfer their previously accumulated miles to the new scheme – and Aer Lingus will most likely take great pleasure in telling us that.

    More information here:

    Aer Lingus is set to call time on its business flyer ‘Gold Circle Club’

    Sarah McCabe calls the Gold Circle Club “one of the country’s best-loved loyalty schemes”.

  12. Bob harrison says:

    As a previous participant and indeed victim of this ludicrous club it doesn’t get any better.
    2 months ago tried to use my points for 2 flights to Dublin but as they still wanted to charge us for bags and seat selection it was going to cost me £40 less to pay for them instead. Complained by e mail , acknowledged but no response
    Prior to that tried to book 2 seats to Chicago , the reply was ” we will come back to you to confirm ” well 4 months later I’m still waiting ! Has anybody contacted their chief exec about this joke of a club ? Or indeed the travel writers association ? The ” ever popular” gold circle club is only popular with Aer lingus themselves as it costs them nothing !

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Yes, that’s the crux of the matter.

      I am going to tweet this blog post to Aer Lingus one more time.

      Thanks for your comment Bob. and thanks to all the other commenters too.

  13. Roman says:

    “Good” news for Gold Circle applicants:

    Points earned by an applicant Gold Circle member will not convert to Aer Club.

  14. Whyte's says:

    I have been travelling with Aer Lingus since 1972, including at least 60 or more transatlantic return flights, including some on Business Class. I built up a lot of points in OnePass, their earliest attempt, in cooperation with Eastern, which went bust and we couldn’t transfer our points to the Tara Club, nor could you transfer points from Tara to Gold Circle. For 44 years of flying with Aer Lingus, I have 850 points which means i am still an “applicant”. I have access to the Gold Circle lounge with my Bank of Ireland Gold Visa Card – no thanks to Aer Lingus there. My advice is to book your Aer Lingus tickets through British Airways and get decent redeemable points that way. This has to be the worst airline Rewards Scheme i have ever come across.

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Hello Whyte’s,

      Thank you very much for your comment – much appreciated.

      You have echoed much of what has been said on here by other travelers but have taken it to a whole new level insofar as you have been traveling for 44 years with Aer Lingus and are still being treated in this matter – that’s an absolute disgrace.

      I will be taking a transatlantic flight myself with Aer Lingus in June, and also visiting Germany (from Ireland) in early July using Aer Lingus again – it was simply the most convenient in terms of routing for me and my young daughter but I have long given up any hope of being treated fairly or respectfuly by Aer Lingus when it comes to the total scam that they parade as a rewards scheme.

      I certainly will try to book through British Airways next time – someone mentioned that option on this blog before but I forgot it due to my busy schedule. I have plenty of points with British Airways and have received numerous free flights from them.

      Best wishes from sunny Antigua!

      Adam.

  15. Amy mcgrath says:

    This new aer club is going to be worse than gold circle, but is that possible?

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Thanks for your comment Amy.

      We shall see but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if it does turn out to be worse.

      They don’t really care about their customers. This is the attitude that will eventually put them out of business.

  16. Lenard says:

    Gold Circle was set up in the 80s and nothing has been done to update the program in the interim. Aer Lingus are launching a new FFP program in 2016 “AerClub” which will be spend based. Your previous feedback such “do not qualify“ ““cannot be purchased“ will no longer apply and in theory your loyalty will now be rewarded and recognised!

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Hello Lenard,

      Thanks for your comment (do you work for Aer Lingus?!).

      As you said ‘in theory’ my so-called ‘loyalty’ will be rewarded but when it comes to Aer Lingus I will have to see it to believe it.

      Currently I am still at ‘Applicant Status’ for membership of the Gold Circle Club – this is a situation that has persisted for many years and all the points that I have accumulated taking dozens of flights on Aer Lingus during this time are completely useless and worthless (see my original post).

      Indeed, I arrived to Dublin on Aer Lingus in June from Washington DC. In early August I flew to Budapest and back on Aer Lingus, while on Sunday I am due to take my return flight to Washington DC. None of the points that I should have been entitled to for these flights will have been credited to me – because I am in limbo as a perpetual applicant for membership.

      In future I’m booking my flights to and from Washington DC (and elsewhere) through the British Airways portal as was advised by another person who posted a commment to my blog post (I was so busy that I forgot to do this for the last Washington DC – Dublin return flights) – at least with British Airways I always get my due credit and I have been able to use the accumulated frequent flyer points I already have with British Airways on a couple of occasions to take flights.

      Regards,

      Adam.

      • Lenard says:

        Hi Adam,

        No I don’t work for Aer Lingus and I am not trying to defend them at all. Their Gold Circle program is fairly useless for the casual flyer or at least not for the flyer taking under 10 or so flights a year. I have experience flying in the US with United and they award on spend on “every” ticket you purchase regardless of class or cabin.

        I see Aer Lingus are due to move to this model sometime in the near future and will be issuing Avios as the currency. Friend of mine is in the BA executive club and recommends it highly therefore there may be hope for the new program after all especially with BA buying Aer Lingus.

        Anyways like you said time will tell so we’ll see.

        Regards

        Lenard

  17. chandru says:

    Just spoke to AER LINGUS today and was informed that the will be starting to give avois points on aer lingus flights and was therefore advise to enter in my BA CLUB MEMBERSHIP Number.when booking .At least avois points work ! a friend of mine had to recently change his USA ticket date and travelling with BA, and used his AVOIS points to reduce the price of his new ticket by nearly £168 to the USA. at least avois points are genuine !

    • Adam Byrne says:

      Hello chandru, thanks for your comment. Yes most people have advised the same and I will certainly be doing that for any future flights because I don’t trust Aer Lingus in the slightest. Safe travels to you.

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