Warning! Soon, airline loyalty will cost you

delta7Like many frequent travelers, Glenn Haussman recently received an e-mail from Delta Air Lines about an “update” to its SkyMiles loyalty program. It was so understated that some passengers didn’t bother to read it. But Haussman did.

“I was not thrilled,” says Haussman, who works for a hotel industry Web site in New York. “It made me feel less valuable to Delta.”

How can a loyalty program make passengers feel unappreciated? Delta is the first legacy airline to tie the value of its frequent-flier program to the amount of money you spend, as opposed to the number of miles you fly. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, the airline’s frequent fliers will earn “elite” status, which gives them access to upgrades and other perks, through a combination of miles or segments flown and annual spending on Delta flights.
Read more “Warning! Soon, airline loyalty will cost you”

What do you do when points vanish into thin air?

What's the point? / Photo by Mitchell Bartlett - Flickr
Question: I’m having an issue with Points.com I thought you might be able to help resolve. I recently traded 6,000 American Airline miles for 6,000 JetBlue miles, with a transaction fee of $100. The interface stated that the estimated processing time was five to eight business days.
Read more “What do you do when points vanish into thin air?”

TSA watch: Can you trust the new trusted-traveler program?

Stung by the traveling public’s disapproval of its one-size-fits-all approach to passenger screening, the Transportation Security Administration last month announced that it would begin testing a new trusted-traveler program. But if you think that the next time you fly, you’ll speed through the security line like it’s 1999, you’ll probably be disappointed.

Only a chosen few will qualify, at no cost, for the first phase of the identity-based pre-screening test, which is scheduled to launch this fall. Elite-level frequent fliers with American and Delta, plus members of other trusted-traveler programs such as Global Entry, which offers a shortcut throughU.S. Customs, will be eligible. And the program will initially be available in just four airports: Atlanta, Detroit, Miami and Dallas.
Read more “TSA watch: Can you trust the new trusted-traveler program?”

Frequent flier program changes you can root for

If you’ve ever asked what the fuss over frequent-flier programs is about, then you know that the answer can be complicated.

Airlines love them because they’re worth billions of dollars in business. They also mean the world to many passengers, because at a time when airline amenities are evaporating faster than jet fuel spilled on a hot tarmac, perks such as upgrades and preferential treatment are just about the only things that make air travel tolerable.

So when two major airlines recently decided to upgrade their loyalty programs, they caught this skeptic’s attention.

Delta Air Lines has eliminated the expirations on its frequent-flier miles. And Southwest Airlines has completely revamped its legendary Rapid Rewards, adopting many of the features of competing incentive programs.

The response from customers offers fresh insights into the volatile relationship between air travelers and airlines, but it also presents us with new opportunities to fly smarter.
Read more “Frequent flier program changes you can root for”