0 min left

Airlines Want You to Use Your Miles Already

Airport rush: people with their suitcases walking along a corridor (motion blurred image; color toned image)

Airlines are slowly realizing that customers in their loyalty programs are getting frustrated with ancillary fees, shrinking seat sizes, and the rising cost of airfare — so in order to help keep loyalty program members engaged, the airlines are making it easier to earn and spend frequent flyer miles.

Over the last five years, the cost in loyalty miles or points that it takes to get one airline ticket has decreased by 13.5 percent. But loyalty program members continued to hoard their points rather than staying engaged in the program by redeeming them.

“Airlines are recognizing that in order for the loyalty program business to be sustainable longer term, consumers have to stay engaged and continue to want to earn this currency,” Joe DeNardi, a reward travel analyst, told Bloomberg. “One way is to allow them to use it more effectively.”

Airlines are responding to that knowledge in a variety of ways. Some are reducing how many miles it takes to get a ticket even more. Others are upping the number of seats on each flight available to rewards members. And even more are boosting the purchasing power of a mile, so you can get more bang for your rewards buck. Legacy carriers are going a step further and changing the way miles are accrued, switching from earning as you fly based on the miles flown to earning miles based on how much the ticket price was.

“[Airlines don’t care anymore] whether they sell a seat with dollars or miles,” Jay Sorensen, IdeaWorks president, told Bloomberg. “Historically it was negative from a revenue standpoint if they sold a seat with miles in general. Now airlines are recognizing that these loyalty programs are tremendously valuable.”

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
gum1k April 8, 2019

It is nice airlines have realized that massive devaluations coupled with slashed inventories make these programs pointless. I don't see ANY evidence beyond; spin, smoke and mirrors that the airlines are plan to make these programs of much value going forward. Switch to Chase Saphire or simply cash back cards and use miles the minute you can. I am glad my 3+Mil UA balance has been largely spent down. Airlines are occasionally nice, mileage programs are strictly bait and switch operations these days.

Nomorepretzels April 2, 2019

Yikes, did D Parker get the memo?

KenTarmac April 1, 2019

Sky pesos.

JAGorham April 1, 2019

Trust me, I've wanted to use my miles. But when the "cheaper" miles flight options leave me with a 12 hour layover for I flight I can take direct (or with a minimal layover) paying for with a different airline, it makes the miles kind of useless.

mtdd April 1, 2019

I have some 800,000 avios. Once - once only - was I able to redeem them for a flight (well, an upgrade) on dates that were even remotely convenient to me. I guess it gives me some kind of a warm glow in my bosom each time I look at my points balance. But in general terms they are pretty much useless to me. In some cases the fees, taxes and surcharges come pretty close to a cash paid fare with another carrier. (Some exaggeration here, but you get the drift) If airlines want us to use the miles, then they really need to make it easier for us to use them. Otherwise they remain a kind of antique curiosity on my mantel piece.