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Airlines Making It Easier To Redeem Miles

By Author: Unknown Member
Total Articles: 213

Frequent fliers who are determined to find cheap travel options such as cheap airplane tickets, discount travel deals, and cheap vacation packages often do their best to amass the greatest possible number of airline miles for future free travel only to be frustrated when trying to redeem those miles later for airline tickets.

The good news is that the world’s biggest airlines have increased the percent of flights with seats available for reward travel, according to the Switchfly Reward Seat Availability Survey.

In its most recent annual survey 74 percent of flights checked had seats available for reward reservations compared to only 66 percent overall reward availability in 2010.

The current 74 percent figure is the highest level of reward seat availability recorded in the six years the survey has been conducted.

Three factors appear to be contributing to the increase in reward seats:

• First, competition from credit cards that offer reward travel without blackout dates may be pushing airlines to increase reward seat availability so that airline frequent flier programs appear more attractive.

• Second, since new accounting rules state that airlines can recognize some of their reward program revenue only after the reward travel has actually been taken airlines are being encouraged to redeem frequent flier miles so that airlines can receive credit for more of their reward program revenue.

• Third, experts believe airlines may eventually want to spin-off their frequent flier programs. In that event, investors will want to review how attractive frequent flier programs are for members.

Airlines with the maximum number of flights with reward seats in the most recent survey included the German discount carrier Air Berlin, Virgin Australia, Air Canada, and Singapore.

The three biggest U.S. airlines (American, Delta, and United) each increased their reward seat availability over the past year by 12 percent, 4 percent, and 3 percent respectively.

The airline showing the largest increased in open reward seats compared with the prior year was Alaska Airlines, with 80 percent of its flights having seats available for reservations made via the company’s Mileage Plan program. Last year less than 60 percent of its flights showed reward seat availability.

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