The Economist On Loyalty Programs


You know that the loyalty program devaluations have been bad, when they make it all the way to the Economist magazine.


The Gulliver piles on the recent United and Delta award chart changes (before the Delta’s latest move late Friday) and argues that the miles will be harder to earn and to use wisely in the future. You can read the entire article here.

The article also mentions the qualification changes that both Delta and United have instituted for 2014 that require a minimum spend at each level in addition to the number of miles flown.

The article argues that the passengers can mostly blame themselves for making the mileage meager by choosing the service mainly on price. Airlines have counter reacted by introducing fees and more fees from having a drink to selecting a seat.

The devaluation of the mileage programs was the logical next step.


Personally, I am less and less loyal to a single airline or even an alliance. I have lifetime status with both Star Alliance and Oneworld that makes this easier.

If the airlines make earning miles harder from actual flights and, at the same time, raises the cost of award tickets to ridiculous levels, it makes me less likely to even consider the miles that I would have earned, when I make the purchase decision.

For now, I have paid a premium to fly on certain airlines and alliances knowing that I can spend the miles that I have earned in a meaningful way. Maybe not so in the future.

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