- DALLAS, Texas (AP) — Gary Steiger, an avid traveler and admitted cheapskate, has been scanning come-ons for free airline travel for a long time and he can’t believe his eyes.
Free air miles for opening a bank or brokerage account. Earn 10,000 miles to sign up with a long-distance phone company for six months. Gift cards that let homeowners earn miles on their mortgage payments.
“We’re seeing more offers out there,” said Steiger, a retired high school teacher in Ross, California, who tracks the offers for a frequent fliers Web site. “Airlines are realizing that selling miles to businesses who resell them to their customers is one of the few profit centers airlines have.”
Traditional airlines like American and Delta have a new attitude about promotional deals after losing passengers the last few years to low-fare competitors such as Southwest, JetBlue and AirTran. The big carriers are now offering free trips and sweetening the frequent-flier programs that they view as a key advantage over their low-cost rivals.
My own sense is that there are great deals out there and the major carriers have gotten increasingly savvy about leveraging their loyalty programs to influence consumer behavior.
I’m often of the opinion that the best opportunities are a thing of the past because marketers have gotten so good at targeting offers, so those of us who would take advantage of some of the best ones aren’t eligible at all — and they’ve learned from their past mistakes that have been exploited to great effect by people like the readers of this website.
And then great opportunities pop up. The 100 miles per dollar offer from 1-800-Flowers at the end of December was about as good as anything that had come along before it. The end is clearly not upon us.
I’m obviously better on the future of these offers, or I wouldn’t be writing on this website.