2012: ANNUAL FLYERTALK AWARDS
From January 16 to February 16, 2012, the members of FlyerTalk.com voted for their favorite rewards programs of the past year. We are honored to present their results.
You don't accumulate multiple elite-level qualifications without logging a lot of miles, hotel stays, and car rentals. Perhaps the most rewarded group in the history of affinity programs, FlyerTalk is a community of nearly 400,000 business and leisure travelers dedicated to finding and sharing elite-level knowledge of air, hotel and car rental programs. These are not casual travelers; they are industry influencers. Their favorite programs are truly the best in the world -- because they have tried them all.
143 programs worldwide vied for Best Program, signifying the finest combination of value, ease-of-redemption and customer service. FlyerTalk is presenting nine of these awards to airline, hotel and rental car programs across three geographical regions in 2012.
Following a weeks-long nominations process in the FlyerTalk forums in December 2011, a single benefit was chosen to represent each program. In 2012, FlyerTalk is also presenting awards to the nine programs with the Outstanding Benefit of the past year.
Voters were asked to submit a six-part online ballot, ranking their top four programs (1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, 4th place) in each award category. Ballots were tabulated using a single-winner voting method (a modified Borda count) with a proprietary weighting system, and audited over a period of weeks. This ensured that small programs, meeting a modest minimum qualifying percentage of votes cast, had the same chance of winning as the largest players in their industry; high program participation does not necessarily equate to a higher Quality Score. A perfect Quality Score -- receiving nothing but 1st-place votes -- is 10.
Best Rewards Program
Airline: American Airlines AAdvantage (7.03)
Aadvantage wins with the second highest vote total in the region (United got the most total votes); Air Canada Aeroplan is a strong 2nd place out of 20, despite only the 8th highest vote total, showing that smaller plans can be highly regarded by FlyerTalkers if they offer exceptional service and value.
Hotel: Starwood Preferred Guest (7.00)
In what will become a real 2-program dogfight across the hotel awards, HHonors (6.60) has more total votes, but SPG notches more first place votes and takes the region. Marriott Rewards is 3rd.
Car Rental: Hertz #1 Club (7.90)
There's no point in sugar-coating it: Hertz #1 Club is a juggernaut. They take the award here over National Emerald Club (7.11) - and every other category as well! That's right; this one's a sweep. Well done, Hertz.
Airline: British Airways Executive Club (7.80)
BA Executive Club has both the highest Quality Score and biggest vote total in Europe/Africa, beating out rival Lufthansa. Another smaller program, bmi Diamond Club, finishes a respectable 3rd out of 30 programs in the region.
Hotel: Hilton HHonors (7.11)
HHonors comes back for the win in Europe/Africa, and gets the most votes in first, second and third place, beating out SPG. Priority Club Rewards pulls in right after the leaders.
Car Rental: Hertz #1 Club (7.73)
Hertz over Avis.
Airline: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (7.19)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles wins, and has the highest vote total. El Al Matmid Club had an even higher quality score (8.07!) but failed to qualify due to a very low turnout, tallying only 1.5% of the total votes cast in this category.
Hotel: Starwood Preferred Guest (6.87)
The see-saw fight swings back to SPG, winning Best Program in the Middle East/Asia/Oceania over HHonors (6.59). Accor A-Club is FlyerTalk's 3rd choice of the region's 16 programs.
Car Rental: Hertz #1 Club (8.02)
Hertz over Avis again.
Airline: American Airlines Aadvantage - 500-mile and systemwide upgrades (7.80)
Aadvantage 500-Mile and Systemwide Upgrades wins, with Delta's Medallion Upgrades coming in 2nd (7.71). United again scored the most total votes in the Americas, but was not the first choice of most FlyerTalkers.
Hotel: Starwood Preferred Guest - Suite/room upgrades (7.31)
American FlyerTalkers like the free breakfast benefit at Hilton; but they love their Starwood room upgrades even more!
Car Rental: Hertz #1 Club - Platinum Elite (8.21)
Closest contest of the entire Awards, in any region, industry or category! A single well-placed vote could have swung this one in National's favor (FlyerTalkers are gaga over their Choice of Car benefit), but they are edged out by Hertz, by just one one-thousandth of a point: 8.206 to 8.205. Wow.
Airline: British Airways Executive Club - MFU/UUA/Avios upgrades (8.11)
BA's MFU/UU/Avios upgrades wins going away. More total voters liked Lufthansa's "sticky" 2-year elite status, which placed 3rd overall after bmi's popular Miles & Cash Awards.
Hotel: Hilton HHonors - Complimentary room upgrades (7.46)
Accor A-Club's Bonus Points Promotion (7.26) has a strong 2nd place showing in Europe/Africa; but HHonors wins the day with their enormously popular complimentary room upgrades.
Car Rental: Hertz #1 Club - Free upgrades
Business as usual for Hertz, taking out Avis (7.61).
Airline: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles - Seat guarantees for Marco Polo members (7.28)
Cathay Pacific's Seat Guarantees for Marco Polo members wins, in a very evenly-spread vote. Emirates' Lounge Access placed 2nd out of 23 programs in the category.
Hotel: Hilton HHonors - Complimentary room upgrades (6.89)
Hilton Hhonors room upgrades takes the Middle East/Asia/Oceania region over Priority Club's Bonus Points (6.66).
Car Rental: Hertz #1 Club - Free rental days (9.94)
This one was a real walk in the park; it's the only instance where FlyerTalkers didn't bother to even nominate another program's benefit during the December forum votes. Unsurprisingly, having no competition resulted in the highest quality score of the Awards.