It’s finally happening.
“Are travelers giving up on loyalty programs?”
Airline frequent-flier programs may be useless, but some are more useless than others.
“The world’s most useless frequent flier programs revealed”
Loyalty programs may be the single greatest scam pulled on the traveling public.
“Why I love Delta’s new loyalty program – and why you’ll probably hate it”
When Capital One offers to “erase” part of her debts with award points, Kate Morrical calls on a loyalty program skeptic to clear things up. Find out what happens next.
Question: You’ve gone on record plenty of times with your feelings about loyalty programs, so I wondered if you’d seen this ad for Capital One’s “Purchase Eraser.” In it, Alec Baldwin implies that he can “erase” a $700 purchase with 30,000 miles.
But the program overview clearly states that any purchase over $600 is 100 miles per dollar to redeem.
“Can Capital One really “erase” my debts? And while you’re at it, could you do another rant about loyalty programs?”
Looking back, Jill Constable’s mistake wasn’t flying to Australia on American Airlines and Qantas. The connections from Dallas to Sydney, Ayers Rock, and Cairns made sense, from a scheduling point of view.
It was the reason she chose the so-called “codeshare” flights.
“I wanted the miles,” she confesses.
Constable assumed that she’d receive credit for all of her flights to and from Down Under, plus the domestic flights booked through American. (Codesharing, for the uninitiated, is the fundamentally dishonest act of selling another airline’s flight as if it was your own, but I’m not going down that rabbit hole today.)
“Fly a mile, earn a mile? No, that would make too much sense”
The call between Frank Alioto and his favorite cruise line went down like something straight out of a made-for-TV drama. You know that turning point where the hero actually turns out to be the villain? Just like that.
He and his wife, Susan, had accumulated 130,000 loyalty points over the years, using a special credit card called an “affinity” card that lets you earn more loyalty points, but can come with a series of unfavorable terms, like a higher annual percentage rate or a yearly fee.
“The program promises, among other rewards, that 125,000 points can be redeemed for a free five- to seven-day Caribbean cruise for two,” he says. And the Aliotos had collected for years, assuming that once they earned enough “loyalty” points, they’d get their promised cruise vacation.
“Betrayed by a company? Here are 5 secrets for avoiding it”
It may be too early to write the obituary for frequent-flier mileage runs — those legendary year-end flights that offer a shortcut to an airline’s coveted “elite” status — but it’s easy to see the end from here.
With Delta Air Lines and United Airlines tightening their loyalty program rules in 2014 to require more spending in order to get singled out for special treatment, many of these frivolous round trips could vanish after this winter.
“With the new revenue requirements in place, mileage running will rarely make economic sense, except in cases where a traveler is just a few miles and dollars short of an elite threshold,” says Tim Winship, publisher of FrequentFlier.com.
“No more mileage runs? That’s bad news for everyone”
It’s time to question one of the most basic tenets of travel: Everyone should participate in an airline loyalty program.
A tectonic shift in the world of travel rewards is forcing passengers to reconsider their allegiances — or whether it’s worth being loyal at all. Given the already hopelessly convoluted nature of these programs, I’m surprised it took so long.
Frequent fliers have been hardest hit. In recent months, both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines revised their programs so that only the biggest spenders get the best perks. Soon, flying often won’t be enough to reach an airline’s coveted elite status. Expect more companies to follow.
Experienced travelers are taking a hard look at their loyalty portfolios. They don’t always like what they see.
“Are loyalty programs worth belonging to?”
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.
“Why loyalty programs are dead — and why that’s good news for almost everyone”
If you don’t like some of the recent changes to your airline loyalty program, talk to Mike Croswell. He’s a United Airlines “Million Miler” who assumed that his three decades of devotion to the airline would be reciprocated after he stopped being a frequent flier.
He assumed wrong.
“The money I spent chasing Million Mile status is without a doubt the poorest investment of my career,” says Croswell, who lives in Aspen, Colo., and joined United’s frequent-flier program, MileagePlus, in 1983. “I have zero benefits that were promised to me.”
“After loyalty program changes, airlines brace for Million Miler march”