Etihad and Lufthansa launch loyalty apps for the iPhone

There are travel-related iPhone applications (apps) abound, devoted to everything from ticket search and booking (Kayak), airport codes (Airport Codes), airport gates (GateGuru), airplane seating charts (Airline Seat Guide), to flight tracking (FlightTrack), flight delays (Flight Tracker), and aircraft specifications (aeroguide).  

Compared with the above, the list of airline-branded apps remains relatively sparse. British Airways led the way in July 2008 with the first iPhone app launched by an airline. Qantas soon followed suit, while Air Canada became the first North American carrier to launch an application. Other airlines that have launched iPhone-based services include Lufthansa, Swiss, Southwest, Cathay Pacific, DragonAir, Viva Macau, and Air New Zealand. Apps from these airlines mainly provide general travel information, such as timetables, and the ability to change booking details. Some airlines also offer the passengers the ability to check in, or let them check their FFP mileage balance. For a full overview of airline iPhone apps, see this blog by mvolution (in German). Lately, airline applications have been getting more specific, with Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Flying without Fear’ app, and Air New Zealand’s mobile boarding pass app.

Recently, Etihad and Lufthansa have introduced iPhone apps that are specifically targetted at members of their frequent flier programs. Etihad’s recently launched Etihad Guest app lets its program members redeem their loyalty points for non-flight awards at the airline’s Reward Shop, or opt for instant seat upgrades (by email from the app). Members can spend their points on some 1,700 items in the catalogue, and special reward deals are available to those using the Etihad app. Etihad claims its application is the first of its kind to offer real-time loyalty points redemption for users.

In November 2009, Lufthansa launched Miles & More MemberScout, which is a kind of mix between boarding.fr and Virgin Atlantic’s taxi². Lufthansa’s iPhone-based social networking app enables frequent flyers in its Miles & More program to get in touch with other travelers based on their interests, for example to share local travel tips. The application uses the GPS feature of the iPhone to see where the user is and shows where other members of the program are within 250 yards, within a mile, etcetera. MemberScout users do not have to create a new profile, but can link their existing social network profiles (eg. Facebook, LinkedIn) to their MemberScout profile. The service also has got a taxi-sharing component and passengers can learn more about their potential fellow passenger by viewing his or her social network profile. A Blackberry version is reportedly on its way as well as integration with Lufthansa’s MySkyStatus tool.

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