Are loyalty programs worth “nothing”?

I’ve been biting my tongue for the last three months, trying to avoid loyalty program questions from readers. But after hearing from William Howard, I had to break my silence.
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A lifetime of loyalty, erased in a second

Loyalty. It ain’t what it used to be.

Just ask someone like Daphne Gemmill, a lifelong US Airways frequent flier whose allegiance to the company goes all the way back to its predecessor, the old Piedmont Airlines.

“With the merger of US Airways and American, I thought my combined lifetime miles might put me in the million-mile category,” says Gemmill, a retired federal government employee. (Million-milers get VIP treatment, a coveted perk for passengers.) So she logged into her account, only to find her “lifetime” miles were gone — voided because of “inactivity” on her account.

“Guess those miles aren’t really lifetime miles, since I’m still alive,” she sighed.
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