Frequent flyers are faced with long lines, single servings, and complicated rewards programs. Members want a loyalty program that awards them free WiFi on the plane, and the most for their miles. Unsurprisingly, many Delta devotees are vexed to hear that their SkyMiles points system is now based on ticket price, rather than miles flown.
Naturally, savvy flyers and business travelers alike are left with minimal rewards and last minute tickets with low points value. When flyers are loyal to an airline, the favor should be returned. That means making the switch to a friendlier frequent flyer program, and MissTravel is here to provide an inside scoop on the best alternatives.
But who is deserving of your commitment? We’ve ranked the best of the best, based on the perks and freebies of the rewards program. That includes availability of flights, upgrade services, credit card benefits, and ticket pricing. Delta has proved unworthy of your allegiance, and it’s time to take off.
Coming in at number five, JetBlue is one of the most honest airlines. TrueBlue jet-setters can easily rack up more points than most airline rewards, but the destinations themselves are limited. Their locations are concentrated on the coast, though points can be earned by flying American and Hawaiian Airlines as well. JetBlue’s official credit card has a low annual fee, combined with generous spending benefits which, makes up for the minimal itinerary options.
While they lack variety in routes outside the Northwest, Alaska Airlines is partners with Delta and British airways, meaning members can redeem their points on these alliance airlines. Seating is limited and reward flights are subject to blackout dates, but the elite status is met by superb aircrafts. Points can also be earned with participating credit cards and hotel stays. But beware, the points are finite and expire two years from acquisition.
This is the largest low-cost carrier in the US, and they have recently acquired AirTran Airways, which expands their mileage program. They don’t have first class, but they do have the most availabilty for reward seats of any airline. What Southwest lacks in glamour, they make up for by having no blackout dates, expiring points, or cancellation fees. They also offer a companion pass for their top tier members, meaning your friend and your bags fly for free.
Serving more New Yorkers and Angelenos than any other airline, American Airlines connects the coasts and makes it easy for the modern jet-setter to snag a seat. With a long list of affiliates, they allow members to rack up points by flying other airlines as well as renting cars and dining at some restaurants. Unlike many of the competitors, members can also redeem their points on hotel stays rather than merely earning points. AAdvantage has it’s perks, like being able to transfer miles to other flyers, but reward seating is limited and points expire after 18 months.
With solid perks for elite members and a simple redemption process, MileagePlus is a competitive and versatile loyalty program. They boast more affiliates than any other airline, so you rack up points no matter what flight you need. Seats are always available, since there are over 24 airlines to choose from. MileagePlus is not just about flights. Their vast affiliates range from restaurants, to cell phone carriers, and even feature a travel agent site.
Unlike Delta, who changed their program to be based on the amount spent, United relies on a hybrid of miles flown and ticket pricing to give the people who rack up the miles preferential treatment. Their sponsored credit card, The Explorer, boasts a 4.5 star review on several sites, and points are on par with every dollar spent. These bonuses are all nice, but the greatest advantage is the United VIP Club, a location at some airports that allows members to get complimentary snacks and beverages before boarding their flights in an exclusive lounge. Talk about traveling in style!
Many travelers don’t get to choose which airline they take because hub locations and routes vary, but when options present themselves, United we stand. Fretting over points and miles should be the last thing on a busy flyers schedule.