Wheels Up launching loyalty program, redemptions for Delta SkyMiles members; Opens flights to non-members

By Doug Gollan, March 16, 2021

Wheels Up quietly started allowing non-members to book charter flights. It’s also launching a frequent flyer program and will allow Delta SkyMiles members to redeem miles on Wheels Up

Wheels Up has quietly begun allowing non-members to book charter flights through its app. The New York-based private aviation provider will also launch a frequent flyer program for its private jet customers by the end of the year. At the same time, members of the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program will be able to redeem miles for Wheels Up products and services.

The disclosures were part of a 751-page S-4 filing by Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp. yesterday, the SPAC it plans to merge with. When that happens, Wheels Up will be publicly traded.

Wheels Up opens up to non-members

While Wheels Up is prolific when it comes to marketing and public relations, it’s notable there have been no announcements about its move enabling non-members to book flights. Previously, Wheels Up limited access to members only.

The S-4, however, notes, “We recently launched open non-member access to our marketplace through the Wheels Up App.”

It continues, “We expect to go out more broadly with our marketing efforts to potential flyers in conjunction with an in-development redesign of the Wheels Up App, currently scheduled to go live in 2021.”

Non-member flyers can now sign up, ask questions, and shop and book charter flights completely digitally using the Wheels Up App. They are not required to purchase a membership but may pay additional transaction fees not applicable to members.

They also do not receive membership benefits. In addition, non-member flyers do not have the same aircraft availability guarantees as members and flights are priced dynamically.

Over time, plans call for adding additional features for non-members, including flight-sharing features and a by-the-seat scheduled shuttle product.

“We believe the additional demand driven by non-members should provide benefits to our members that include improved pricing driven by broader network effects and more flight-sharing options, among others,” the company claimes.

Wheels Up frequent flyer program

The filing also revealed plans to launch a Wheels Up frequent flyer program.

It reads, “Rewarding customer engagement and in particular flight activity, has been proven to be a powerful driver of retention for customers and economic value for organizations. In many instances, the value of the loyalty/affinity programs for the major commercial airlines has been viewed as a significant contributor to the overall value of the airlines themselves. We plan to introduce a member loyalty program, which will provide members with additional exclusive benefits and reinforce Wheels Up as a leading lifestyle and experiential brand. We expect to introduce this new program by the end of 2021.”

The loyalty program is apparently in addition to its various lifestyle partnerships. Core and Business customers already get free memberships to vacation club Inspirato and Four Hundred’s concierge service. It also hosts parties at the Super Bowl, Art Basel Miami, and during The Masters in Augusta, Georgia.

Delta Air Lines and Wheels Up

Meanwhile, Wheels Up and Delta will fortify their ties with the “creation of an array of new products and valuable features.”

That includes “introduction of exclusive Wheels Up partner benefits and product offerings to Delta’s 360, Diamond and Platinum Medallion members.”

Customers of both companies will see “targeted integrations of our respective technology platforms to streamline and drive cross-program engagement.”

[You Can Buy Wheels Up At Costco, But Should You?]

SkyMiles members will soon be able to redeem miles earned flying Delta for Wheels Up products and services. Since American Express Membership Rewards points can be converted to SkyMiles, conceivably, high-spending Centurion and Platinum cardmembers will be able to use those points on Wheels Up.

For a period of time in 2016 through early 2018, Delta allowed SkyMiles members to redeem Delta Private Jets flights. The private charter subsidiary was bought by Wheels Up in 2019, bringing along parent Delta as a shareholder. The disclosure noted that Wheels Up stopped selling the legacy DPJ jet card program in December.

Wheels Up members already earn SkyMiles when they join or renew, and based on deposit level, can earn varying levels of status in Delta’s frequent flyer program.

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