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Low Fare Airlines Offer Better Reward Seat Availability While Traditional Carriers Provide Mixed Results

May 26, 2011 Comments off

Low Fare Airlines Offer Better Reward Seat Availability While Traditional Carriers Provide Mixed Results (PDF)
Source: IdeaWorks

Less might mean more to savvy travelers when they compare the generosity of frequent flier programs. Customers of low fare airlines will be pleased by top rankings in the 2nd annual ezRez Reward Seat Availability Survey. Members in the programs operated by traditional airlines may need to place more value in benefits beyond free travel when choosing a favorite frequent flier program.

Low fare airlines GOL, Southwest Airlines, Air Berlin, and Virgin Australia filled the top four slots in reward survey results for 2011. GOL, which calls itself the largest low cost and low fare carrier in Latin America, topped the rankings with an unmatched level of reward bliss; an astounding 100 percent of survey queries yielded two or more reward seats. And US-based Southwest Airlines matched its 2010 standing with a survey result of 99.3 percent reward seat availability. The average among the six low fare airlines in the survey was 85.6 percent and is significantly above the 62.9 percent calculated for the other 18 carriers in the survey group.

Consumers realize there is no free lunch. Low fare airlines are generous with reward seats while offering bargain prices. Traditional airlines are seemingly more stingy with rewards but offer other benefits such as entry to airport lounges, upgrades to premium cabins, and access to worldwide flight networks. But survey results also show adding more global partners doesn’t equal more reward opportunities. It’s true, travelers living in major hubs such as Atlanta, London, and Hong Kong might have little choice beyond joining the hometown program. But many other consumers can weigh reward, accrual, and upgrade features and choose a program on a range of merits.

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