Why loyalty programs are dead — and why that’s good news for almost everyone

Gui Jun Pen/Shutterstock
Gui Jun Pen/Shutterstock

Loyalty programs as we know them are dead.

After years of playing the game, frequent customers like John Peppin are saying, “enough is enough.”

Peppin, the director of a medical center in Lexington, Ky., said he wondered about the endless bait and switch airlines pull — demanding absolute loyalty in order to be treated with a little dignity.

He often flies to China on American Airlines, to which he has given his business in exchange for the possibility of an upgrade to business class.
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Weekend survey: Are airline mileage programs worth it?

We had some interesting news last week, with Delta Air Lines’ announcement that its miles wouldn’t expire, and before that, Southwest Airlines’ loyalty program changes.

The subject also was brought to my attention by a recent article reminding all of us that you could buy your way into US Airways’ program as an elite.

Does this change anything? Are you more likely to give your loyalty to an airline, as opposed to shopping around for the best fares and booking your flight based on price and schedule?

Full disclosure: I’m not neutral on the topic of loyalty programs — I think they do more harm than good. But I wonder if the recent changes have changed the dynamic, and whether more frequent travelers will participate in a program.
Read more “Weekend survey: Are airline mileage programs worth it?”