When was the last time you checked your frequent flyer miles statement and gasped because they lapsed? Or, you forgot to include your frequent flyer number in your reservation which effectively means you missed a credit in your account?
The concept of frequent flyer programs has undergone an evolution. Accruing loyalty points has evolved dramatically in the last decade or so. To quote Randy Petersen (founder of FlyerTalk), “They may not have begun as a drawing on a napkin and they may not be dot-com wonders, however, frequent flyer programs have come a long way and carved their own niche these last two decades.”
Today, we can blame it on the fierce competition between airlines, sophisticated frequent flyer programs, or just that there are numerous avenues to reward loyal customers. Two things – the genius is in the creative products and services that airlines can choose from to help their frequent flyers accrue miles, and that the customer gets more bang for his buck.
Frequent Flier miles can be redeemed for an ‘award’ ticket a.k.a. a free airline ticket based of course on several terms and conditions laid down by the airline and its affiliate partners. Some of the airline affiliates that help in earning miles are car rentals, hotel stays, newspaper or magazine subscriptions, electronics goods stores, florists, spas, salons, DVD rentals… the list is long.. And all this only to assert that the customer is king and his loyalty is valuable.
The airline partner points are converted into miles and accumulated with the airline miles. Regarding redemption, it is important to remember that it often comes with a redemption fee that ranges from $25 – $100 depending on the airline, time of travel and class of travel.
After miles for airline flights, the next-most-important source of miles for most frequent flyers is the credit card. And for good reason as well. Cards with a mileage earning component give users a way to “double dip” (earn miles both for the flight, the hotel or the car rental, and for the dollar value of the charged purchase), as well as earn miles for credit card purchases which would not otherwise fall under the mileage umbrella.
While there are many cards which feature miles or points for purchases, the choice facing consumers boils down to cards in the following categories:
Since the introduction of airline alliances such as Star Alliance, Sky Team and One World, the choice for accrual and redemption has increased. Additionally, confusion is compounded when the customer is a member of multiple mileage programs either being part of an alliance or otherwise.The need of the hour is to save time by consolidating all mileage program details to avoid miles from expiring. For the customer, there are online tools available that effectively manage miles and multiple frequent flyer accounts. One such tool I stumbled upon is mileport.com.
Fact is while airlines adopt new technologies to develop, manage and promote their cleverly structured frequent flyer programs; don’t you ever wonder what technologies, protocols, complex algorithms are being used to develop an airline frequent flyer system?