Airlines Want Travelers to Use Up Those Frequent Flyer Miles

Transsiberian Railway with locomotive and steam crossing through Mongolia on a sunny summer day (near Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Asia)
Cherry blossoms ring the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial during spring in Washington, DC.
Happy traveler waiting for the flight in airport

In an effort to encourage travelers to use frequent flyer miles, airlines have decreased the number of miles needed to book a ticket, while also increasing the numbers of seats per plane available for rewards travel, and enhancing the buying power of each mile.

What’s more, prices to redeem miles have also declined in tandem with airfares, according to Bloomberg.

Between 2013 and 2018, the six largest U.S. carriers grew more generous in order to trigger increased levels of mileage redemption, the news organization reported.

The Bloomberg report is based on research and data from IdeaWorks Company and CarTrawler. The two companies found that the average price for a rewards ticket declined 13.5 percent during the study period.

In addition, airlines have also shifted the approach toward awarding miles away from distance flown to a ticket’s price.

The major carriers – Delta, United, and American – switched to a revenue-based mileage accrual program between 2014 and 2016, Bloomberg reported. It’s an approach that budget carriers Southwest and JetBlue had followed for years.

In still more good news for travelers, the airlines are also expanding how loyalty miles can be used. Delta, for instance, now allows passengers to use points toward an upgrade, even after a ticket is purchased. The award-winning carrier (whose rewards program has repeatedly been named among the best) has also stepped up the number of SkyMiles “flash sales” it holds.

Also, notable, Delta now offers one-way tickets for just 5,000 award miles.

IdeaWorks President Jay Sorensen told Bloomberg that carriers have long since stopped caring whether a seat is sold with dollars or miles.

“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” Sorensen said, adding that there is still money to be made off of customers traveling on redeemed miles.

For instance, they will often purchase other products and services in cash, he said.

American Airlines meanwhile, slashed prices in some award categories starting in 2016. What’s more, the following year the airline increased available awards in its AAdvantage program, including those that could be used on connecting flights, according to Bloomberg.

Source: Read Full Article