Frequent Flier Loyalty Programs: Which Were Best and Worst in Terms of Satisfaction in 2014?

Photographic illustration ©2012 by Brian Cohen.

In terms of satisfaction amongst their members, which frequent flier loyalty programs earned the highest praise — and which ones received the most scorn?

Before we reveal the link to the answers, let us first imagine that you are looking forward to a sorely-needed vacation, using the frequent flier loyalty program miles for which you worked so hard to earn — only to find that either the flights you want are unavailable; the flights that are available have three connections and will take you 46 hours in total travel time to finally reach your destination so that you may enjoy your four-day respite; or you will need to completely empty out your account altogether to procure that desired non-stop flight.

Earning miles may be just as bad, as not every frequent flier loyalty program has released all of the details as to what redemption rates will be in the future; but class of service is one factor which plays a larger role than ever in terms of how many frequent flier loyalty program miles you will earn on a flight: the less expensive the class of service; the fewer miles you will earn.

With the frequent flier loyalty programs of United Airlines and Delta Air Lines changing to revenue-based models instead of models based on distance flown and requiring a minimum spend in order to be even considered for elite level status, earning it has become more difficult that ever — unless you are willing to spend more money on your travels…

…but some frequent flier loyalty programs treat their members better than others — depending on the expectations of their members, of course. This is especially true when it comes to customer service — or lack thereof, in some cases.

FlyerTalk — the largest Internet travel community in the world with a rich base of travel knowledge — has collaborated with Frequent Business Traveler magazine on a series of polls. The results of the survey were published by Frequent Business Traveler magazine; while FlyerTalk members opined in this discussion

…and without even further ado, here are the results:

Click on the chart above to access the official Internet web site of Frequent Business Traveler magazine and the source of the chart.

Do you agree with the results of the survey? With which frequent flier loyalty programs are you the most — and least — satisfied?

Comments (Showing 12 of 12)

  • edgewood49 at 10:25am July 15, 2014

    Pretty much on target

  • adamfrey at 11:22am July 15, 2014

    Yep, Skyteam leading the pack (from the bottom).

  • t0mmyd123 at 2:01pm July 15, 2014

    Earning elite status for DL is still MQD & MQM; this new program, although terrible, doesn’t change how status is earned.

    • Brian Cohen at 3:41pm July 15, 2014

      I have carefully pointed out that distinction in the past, t0mmyd123 — but thank you for alerting me that the way I worded that paragraph in this article was incorrect. I have since fixed it, added a link, and hope it is clearer and more accurate to readers.

  • jozdemir at 3:08pm July 15, 2014

    Quantas…? Really…?

  • dangpham at 3:29pm July 15, 2014

    By my own experience, Delta Skymiles is at the right place, the lowest rank. Northwest in the 90’s was one of the best until merging with Delta. If you want to book a seat on Hawaiian route of Delta, book it the first at the first date available, it means 11 & half months before your intended date of travelling and forget about Business Class, never available at regular mileage. Availability on Air France & Korean Air is a fail too. May be the fault is at AF & KE side or the Reward booking program not artificially intelligent enough.

  • PatoLoco at 5:20pm July 15, 2014

    On target for me. More and more, I’m leaning toward an eventual switch to Alaska (assuming American goes revenue). But American as it is now, beside having to use the 500 mile stickers as platinum for upgrades, I’m pretty satisfied with them!

  • starflyer at 6:25pm July 15, 2014

    I pretty much agree. I avoid flying Delta and Air Canada due to their poor programs and poor redemption options / high fees.

  • bhrubin at 9:38pm July 15, 2014

    I pretty much agree, too. I’ve started accumulating Alaska miles using their credit cards, and I’m lifetime UA Gold and actually think the devaluation may benefit me in the long run–thinning out the ranks of other people trying to get premium awards, especially on partner airlines. I also like BA’s program and have used my Chase URs and Amex MRs many times to fly LAN Business and Cathay First. Even AF’s program isn’t horrible in giving access to SkyTeam partners, and we’ve flown Aeroflot LAX-SVO and LAX-CDG in business using those miles transferred via Amex MRs. Delta is completely worthless for premium awards and their in flight product just doesn’t wow me any more than UA or AA for the most part, especially since they lack a true First Class for long haul flights.

  • […] Frequent Flier Loyalty Programs: Which Were Best and Worst in Terms of Satisfaction in 2014? | The G…. […]

  • […] Frequent Flier Loyalty Programs: Which Were Best and Worst in Terms of Satisfaction in 2014? With the frequent flier loyalty programs of United Airlines and Delta Air Lines changing to revenue-based models instead of models based on distance flown and requiring a minimum spend in order to be even considered for elite level status, earning it has become more difficult that ever — unless you are willing to spend more money on your travels: Read more at The Gate […]

  • Singapore_Schwing at 4:32am September 16, 2014

    It’s interesting to me that SQ is very high, despite not doing 2x miles, free upgrades, etc…, even for PPS club. That said, I’ve transitioned from UA and am very happy.

    It goes to show that the quality of the airline really does matter, even when the question is regarding the program, not the airline. The airlines of the US could learn from this.

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