For years I have collected miles with a few different airlines, but have managed to fly only twice using my miles. Here, in one sentence, you have the problem with airline loyalty programs, but also my loyalty strategy.
Airlines want you to fly with only them and collect miles. But they really don’t want you to use the miles to fly – or so it would seem from the way the programs are structured. It is a “game” and you need to understand how to play in order to win. In fact, modern loyalty programs are morphing based on gamification techniques. More on this later.
Flawed loyalty strategy
Having been treated to a Loyalty101 class by an American colleague, I’ve discovered I’m doing it wrong. First, you need to fly with just one carrier, no matter how inconvenient it may be in terms of routing, to make sure that you are at the highest level in the loyalty program. These high levels are the only place you get real benefits. My loyalty mentor has over 1 million miles on United and gets access to lounges, automatic upgrades, and priority access to seats. And on every upgraded flight, she collects miles at a higher rate – like compound interest. So she will happily take United flights which include a change rather than take a direct flight with an alternative carrier. [Read more...]