Another reason that I picked Northwest for Best Website in the Freddie Awards balloting — they’ve just introduced online redemption for upgrade awards.
Most airline programs won’t even tell you when upgrades are available. Most won’t even display their upgrade inventory buckets publicly in the Global Distribution Systems. They keep the information proprietary and you have to call and and waste tremendous amounts of your (and their agents’) time.
Sure, there are workarounds. With United you can search for award travel in expert mode and the upgrade buckets appear (e.g. X is the first class upgrade bucket, I is for upgrading to business class). But nothing replaces good ‘ol functionality, and it looks like Northwest has got it.