The Travel Factory Blog
Here They Go Again....Changing The Rules
Just noticed last week that American Airlines is changing the way they award frequent flyer points. They are just following the lead of Delta and United in the manner in which they reward their frequent flyers.
They are basing the perks on how much the passenger spends on tickets, not how many miles they fly.
American started all this frequent flyer process back in the middle 70's, and they now enjoy the loyalty of over 100 million members, making it the biggest and oldest major airline loyalty program. It was easy figuring when they started; fly one mile, earn one mile.
Nowadays they are in heavy competition for the high-paying customers, so their strategy now is to cater to those elite, high-paying travelers. Most members will earn five miles for every dollar they spend on base fares and carrier-imposed fees. That multiple rises to 7, 8, or 11 for the very elite. Starting January 1, miles alone will not make you elite....you have to spend an annual minimum of $12,000 for air travel to reach the executive platinum level.
Spending-based rewards are also the rule at Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Virgin America. . . .so you might as well say that all the major airlines in the United States are following the same model.
This strategy is to attempt to get that business traveler who is on the road going somewhere 30-40 weeks a year or more. For that leisure traveler who makes one or two flights a year, it will take a long time to pay enough money to justify keeping count.....and it would take several years to be able to utilize that “perk”.
I've found, over the years, it doesn't help the leisure traveler. I've personally accumulated over 80,000 miles and have tried on several occasions to upgrade a seat on one of the international flights I've been on. Well, they will take about 50,000 plus points plus I've got to pay an additional $150+ a ticket. Hey.....I thought these points got you free tickets and free upgrades....earned over the years!!!
Another situation that has been going on since the US Air merger with American is that there are fewer seats assigned to the frequent flyer. Almost every flight the waitlist grows to 10-12 persons. Of course, when you consider there are more seats being taken up by crew members flying to their next job site, and when you consider the seats set aside for “friends and family” of the employees of the airline, then the frequent flyer seat inventory dwindles even further.
To reiterate a constant tip, especially if you plan to use frequent flyer miles or if you want the very best fare available, make your plans as early as possible. And, even though travel agencies do not generally get into the arrangement of flights using frequent flyer miles, we can otherwise advise you what the best fare is available. So, enjoy the services of the experienced agents at The Travel Factory when you want to save time and money in planning your trip or vacation. We can be located at 4150 Southwest Drive. You can call us at 698-1421 or toll-free 800-760-4040 or visit our busy website at www.thetravelfactoryabilene.com.