2014: THE THIRD ANNUAL FLYERTALK AWARDS

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THE WINNERS

Best Rewards Program

Americas
Fly: American Airlines AAdvantage (Quality Score 7.51 out of 10)
For the third straight year, AAdvantage is the clear choice of FlyerTalk's airline affinity program experts in the Americas. United is the runner-up, followed by the smaller Air Canada, Alaska Airlines and Jetblue programs.
Stay: Starwood Preferred Guest (Quality Score 6.81 out of 10)
Also winning for the third time in as many years, SPG outdistances Hilton HHonors despite each program garnering the exact same number of votes! The way those 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th-place votes are distributed, however, heavily favors Starwood. All those 1st-place votes matter!
Drive: Hertz Gold Plus Rewards (Quality Score 7.69 out of 10)
Hertz has won every category in every region of the Car Rental segment since the FlyerTalk Awards began, here outdistancing National Emerald Club. Will the total domination continue?
Europe/Africa
Fly: British Airways Executive Club (Quality Score 8.13 out of 10)
Still no surprises — BA Executive Club remains as popular as ever with European FlyerTalkers, this time taking down second-place Aegean Miles & More, which outpaced the much larger Lufthansa, Turkish, Virgin Atlantic and Air France. With a 5th-place finish in 2012 and 3rd in 2013, are the Greeks primed to conquer the Brits in 2015?
Stay: Starwood Preferred Guest (Quality Score 7.04 out of 10)
Starwood took this category from HHonors last year, and scores a repeat in 2014.
Drive: Hertz Gold Plus Rewards (Quality Score 7.56 out of 10)
Hertz preferred over Avis Preferred.
Middle East/Asia/Oceania
Fly: Jet Airways JetPrivilege (Quality Score 9.25 out of 10)
A huge surprise and upset, Jet Airways JetPrivilege comes out of nowhere to steal this category from Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, the winner two years running. JetPrivilege's 9.25 Quality Score is the highest we've yet seen in any airline category. With only the 4th-highest total vote count, this impressive score tops big guns Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Emirates.
Stay: Taj Hotels & Resorts InnerCircle (Quality Score 6.92 out of 10)
Another newcomer to the FlyerTalk Awards! Ending SPG's 2-year reign, Taj Hotels & Resorts InnerCircle roars into the winner's circle after finishing 9th and 11th the past two years. What a leap!
Drive: Hertz Gold Plus Rewards (Quality Score 7.91 out of 10)
Hertz sweeps the world, knocking off Avis, National, Nissan and Sixt.

Outstanding Benefit

Americas
Fly: American Airlines AAdvantage - EXP systemwide upgrades (Quality Score 6.46 out of 10)
With the same benefit nominated, we see the same result three years running. FlyerTalk members love their systemwide EXP upgrades even more than Southwest's lack of award redemption fees or JetBlue's never-expiring TrueBlue points.
Stay: Marriott Rewards - Concierge lounge access (Quality Score 6.90 out of 10)
Three different champions have been crowned for Outstanding Hotel Benefit in the Americas. Marriott Rewards Concierge Lounge takes home the 2014 trophy in a barn-burner, with Starwood nipping at their heels just a hundredth of a point off the pace! Congrats to Marriott on their first FlyerTalk Award. Keep it up!
Drive: Hertz Gold Plus Rewards - Gold service (Quality Score 7.94 out of 10)
Well, look at that — it's Hertz over national. Four down, two to go…
Europe/Africa
Fly: British Airways Executive Club - Upgrade using Avios (Quality Score 8.00 out of 10)
Oh, those Avios upgrades. They're the European counterpart to AAdvantage's EXPs: beloved by FlyerTalk frequent flyers, and consistent winners in the category.
Stay: Hilton HHonors - Executive lounge access (Quality Score 7.16 out of 10)
Whether it's their free room upgrades (2012) or Executive Lounge access (2013, 2014), HHonors has this category locked up. Too bad, SPG. So sad, Marriott. Better luck next year, Club Carlson.
Drive: Hertz Gold Plus Rewards - Earn points toward free rentals or exchange for other programs' miles/points (Quality Score 7.73 out of 10)
That benefit name is a real mouthful! But it's also really flexible and has the word "free" in it, so FlyerTalk picks it over National's very popular "choice of car" and Avis's "skip the lines" bennies.
Middle East/Asia/Oceania
Fly: Jet Airways JetPrivilege - Pay cash for domestic award ticket upgrades (Quality Score 9.40 out of 10)
Look at JetPrivilege go! A 9.40 quality score? Virtually unheard of. The race for second best is a dogfight between Air China, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.
Stay: Taj Hotels & Resorts InnerCircle - Room Upgrades (Quality Score 6.96 out of 10)
Taj InnerCircle placed 6th in the number of voters who cast ballots for them, after HHonors, SPG, Hilton Gold Passport, Marriott and IHG Rewards. But quality is everything, and with such a high percentage of voters ranking Taj's room upgrades #1 out of 4 possible benefit choices, they pick up another trophy.
Drive: No nominated programs in 2014
Well, we've learned what it takes to stop Hertz: no award being given out! In an unprecedented move, FlyerTalkers decided that no benefit offered by any program was outstanding enough to be nominated in this category. "Try Harder," indeed.