Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Tips

Airline Loyalty Programs Strategy

Business travelers looking to accumulate and use airline travel points or miles might consider taking advantage of credit card offers. Most credit card companies offer sign-up bonus points that can be used toward first-class upgrades, airline club lounges, free checked bags, and free tickets. The majority of frequent-flier miles are currently earned by flying a particular airline but earning points through buying (with a credit card) is another way to accumulate additional travel award point or miles.

Airline loyalty programs have been around since 1981 when American Airlines first introduced AAdvantage. These programs promote loyalty for an airline brand and offer travelers several options for redeeming earned award points. Although the programs have enjoyed much success, travelers should be aware that airlines usually only allocate a limited number of seats per flight for redemption of award travel, giving preference, of course, to seats that generate revenue over those that are free. Some programs also have expiration dates.

There are many websites business travelers can use as sources for finding the best loyalty program deals and managing awards points. Here are just a few:

Travel News

American Airlines Continues to Reorganize

American Airlines continues to experience difficulties, as compared to most of their legacy airline peers. Their recent bankruptcy filing as well as the recent announcement that they plan to cut 13,000 employees are indications of this continued struggle.
A combination of three factors has created a perfect storm for American Airlines at a time when other major airlines are actually experiencing strong comebacks:

  1. American was the only one of the legacy airlines who didn’t file bankruptcy in recent years. This has left them straddled with unrealistic labor contracts.
  2. They are the only one of the major airlines that didn’t find a merger partner (Delta/Northwest, United/Continental, and US Air/America West).
  3. They have led the charge in going “direct” for their distribution, which has alienated their sales and marketing partners (see “Where is American Airline’s Distribution Strategy Headed?“).

American Airlines once had a legacy of being an industry leader in many areas. Under the leadership of Bob Crandall they pioneered computer reservation systems with SABRE. They were a pioneer with their AAdvantage frequent flyer program. They also have a rich history of great service and many accomplishments. We hope that with this reorganization they will be able to find their way and continue to contribute to making the airline industry a solid part of the US economy.

Travel Management

Airline Fees, Alliances and Saving Money

Airline alliances – what is the fuss all about? Besides the ability to earn a free ticket by flying virtually any airline in the world is there really any benefit to knowing which alliance you should belong to? Well, consider this: “How to make consumer-hated airline fees more digestible” was the subject of a three-day meeting earlier this month of the Ancillary Revenue Airline Conference in Huntington Beach (fancy speak for a gathering of airline executives and businesses that serve the industry interested in finding ways to offer coach passengers separate products and services typically offered as part of the ticket price for business and first class passengers). The New York Times estimates that airlines collected $USD 10.25 billion in such fees in 2008 – a staggering 346 per cent increase over 2006. CLEARLY – fees are here to stay and more likely than not will spread to more services offered by airlines.
Understanding airline alliances – who partners with whom and who offers reciprocity – is one way you can avoid paying the fees being levied against the normal traveler these days. OneWorld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance ALL waive ancillary fees for their preferred customers.
To learn more about how to leverage your airline memberships while keeping a little extra money in your pocketbook over the holidays, call Christopherson/Andavo Travel and our trusted travel advisors will be glad to answer your questions.