5 Frequent Flyer Wishes for the New Year

The opening editorial column in January’s Inside Flyer is ungated.

Normally Randy Petersen uses the column to express his thoughts on the state of the loyalty industry, or to highlight some specific changes or opportunities for frequent flyers.

This month he graciously offers up the space to my New Years wishes for frequent flyer programs. I’m truly humbled, as in the 8 or 9 years that I’ve been reading Inside Flyer I don’t recall him every doing something like this.

In the column I try to avoid magical thinking, the kinds of proposals that could always be made even better simply by adding to it, “and everyone gets a pony, too!”

Instead, I try to offer some of the small changes that would make a big difference to members. And with the ‘insider’ audience that Inside Flyer reaches, I know the programs are reading. (Though I also know that many of the program executives read this blog as well, you know who you are..)

In short, my wishes are:

  • United ends Starnet blocking. No other major North American program engages in the practice. No other Star Alliance member engages in the practice. United should allow its members to book the award seats being offered by its partners, not pretend that the partners aren’t offering them the seats.
  • American and British Airways each permit members to book transatlantic awards on the other carrier. There’s no legal reason that this legacy restriction remains in place.
  • Delta brings back at least 24 hour holds for awards booked by phone. Their website is broken, their premium cabin international award inventory is tight, this small change would make remove much of the grief that members face when it comes time to use their hard-earned points.
  • Alaska allow mixed-partner awards. They’re a great little program, and they’ve talked about letting you book more than one partner on an award. Redemption would become much easier if Alaska allowed mix and matching as airlines that are members of alliances traditionally do.
  • US Airways, Continental, and especially Air Canada Aeroplan don’t change a thing. Their premium class international redemption options are almost too good, and when things are too good I worry they can’t last. These programs are providing real value to their members, I just hope they keep it up!

Of course, read the whole thing for the reasoning behind each of my wishes.

What are your New Years wishes?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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