Frequent Flier Miles Being Devalued

March 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’ve been thinking about signing up for an airline’s loyalty program, you may want to think again. Some airlines are devaluing their frequent flier mile programs, making free airline seats harder to earn.

Several years ago, airlines said they would never be so bold as to change their loyalty programs. They were afraid that if they changed the program, passengers would go elsewhere. You could earn large blocks of miles and obtain a free ticket fairly easily.

English: Different customer loyality cards (ai...

Different customer loyality cards (airlines, car rental companies, hotels etc.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, airlines have been consolidating, making less competition for booking airfare. Therefore, they have more flexibility in changing their loyalty programs, adding more blackout dates, increasing the cost of rewards, and decreasing the point value of flights.

Peter Greenberg said on his blog that not only are frequent flier miles becoming harder to redeem, but also that the points to every dollar ratio are decreasing. This means that depending on the airline, your points can be up to 25% less in value.

Why is this happening? Why are airlines making it harder to be loyal to them?

It’s because airlines are already flying at close to full capacity, and there are fewer seats available on the market, which means the airlines don’t need to work quite as hard to earn your patronage. And since people are already paying for seats, why give one away? Ultimately, this is one of their methods to stay profitable. And one of the things that is suffering is the frequent flier programs.

Maybe it’s time to rethink how to earn points without being confined to a loyalty program that could be changed in a few years. You could always earn points on a credit card, something that I do on a regular basis. The value of the points you earn on credit cards can exceed the airline benefits and you are not confined to one air carrier when you book your air travel.

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