Charting a New Course for Airline Loyalty

FREQUENT-FLYER PERKS CAN BE AMAZING—
a private check-in lounge and front-of-the-line security, gate-to-gate service in a luxury vehicle, complimentary bottle of in-flight bubbly to celebrate a special occasion, or access to exclusive events unavailable to the public. In reality, airline Loyalty Programs have lost some of their luster. Many of their Members, especially those who are infrequent flyers, miss out on those picture-perfect moments, and are frustrated with their experience. When frequent flyer Programs (FFPs) were launched about 40 years ago, their initial structures focused almost exclusively on the Program’s best Customers. The inclusion of hotel and car rental Programs in the early 1980s increased opportunities for a greater number of Members to earn miles, but it was the wide-scale adoption of miles as a currency by credit cards that pushed these programs into “all flyer” Programs. Airline Loyalty has since morphed into a complicated business, with a greater number of status tiers and benefits, partnerships that let Members earn and redeem miles in more ways, and ever-evolving travel rules and restrictions.

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