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:
- Register as a full Gold Circle Club member; or
- Claim air miles for flights taken on Aer Lingus; or
- 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.