Malaysia Airlines has become the latest airline to devalue its frequent flyer program. As well as making changes to the way miles are earned, the airline has significantly increased the number of Enrich miles required for reward flights.

As well the increase to redemption costs, Malaysia Airlines is making changes to zones that leave most Australians much worse-off. Australians flying to Europe are hit with a double-whammy here, as almost all routes between Australia and Europe now fall into a new, even more expensive zone. Previously, the most expensive zone covered all journeys greater than 7,200 miles. However this zone category is now capped at 9,999 miles and a brand new zone has been created for routings of 10,000 miles or more.

For all Australia to Europe redemptions, we now fall into Zone 6 (given that the miles from all ports serviced by MH exceed 10000 one way – excepting IST but that isnt the most attractive destination compared to CDG / LHR which are serviced by the A380).. On a basic level, the return redemption goes from 120000 points (102K with the online discount) to 230000 (195K with online discount).

Given the financial difficulties and brand issues that MH are facing, it seems strange to discourage pax from travelling.

Our members are not happy about this. Malaysia Airlines traditionally offered good value redemptions with generous award availability. While there is no indication that availability will decrease (in fact, it may increase if less people are redeeming their points) the redemptions are now poorer value.

I think MH are making a huge mistake with these changes. I admit that the redemption rates were ridiculously low and they should have increased by 25-30% but not almost 100%, which is effectively what is happening for travellers between east coast Australia and London/Paris. You simply don’t make it harder to earn AND harder to burn. You do one or the other.

If you have a stash of Enrich miles you are probably getting worried. But there is a way to minimise the extra expense of getting to Europe. The trick for passengers travelling to Europe under the new system seems to be to keep the itinerary to under 10,000 miles. The miles cost will still be higher than under the old system, but not by as much. If you want to fly on the A380 between Kuala Lumpur and London or Paris, this means you will need to begin your journey in Perth or Darwin – hardly convenient for east coast residents but a possibility nonetheless. From the east coast, flying to Istanbul is a possibility. Otherwise, if you are prepared to begin your journey in Adelaide then you could fly to Frankfurt or Amsterdam on the Boeing 777 for the lower redemption price.

All European flights from Perth & Darwin fall into Zone 6 (7200-10000 miles) and according to great circle mapper, ADL-KUL-FRA and ADL-KUL-AMS (the 777 destinations) also fall into Zone 6. But still going up to 76,500 from 51,000 today.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]