NY Times “Frequent Flier Programs Tighten Rules for Membership”


New York Times had a feature on its international edition, International New York Times (formerly known as the International Herald Tribune), about the changes on airline frequent flier programs in the United States.


The article goes through the recent devaluations on both Delta’s and United’s programs and their new monetary requirements in addition to flown miles that I have covered extensively here on LoyaltyLobby.

You can access the entire piece here.

The piece had interesting tidbits about the number of members on major US programs:

United, for example, has 90 million participants globally in the MileagePlus program; Delta has more than 90 million in SkyMiles while the combined programs of the recently merged American and US Airways have about 100 million members.

Industry consolidation to blame:

Another factor, said Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst for the research firm Hudson Crossing, is the maturing and consolidation of the United States aviation industry. According to Michael Derchin, an airline analyst for CRT Capital, 85 percent of total domestic capacity is now in the hands of just four airlines — United, Delta, American and Southwest.


Northwest merged with Delta, United swallowed Continental (or the other way around), Southwest bought AirTran, and US Airways merged with American Airlines. As noted above, these four airlines control 85% of the domestic capacity in the United States.

It is interesting to see how these programs evolve in the next few years and what “enhancements” are coming our way.

Many choose the airline based on the number of miles they would earn and justify paying a higher price due to this. If these programs get “enhanced” away, why would anyone shop based on anything else than purely the price and the convenience?

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