2015 Frequent Flyer Program Update

Navigating loyalty programs, partner benefits, and membership rewards by airlines can be a daunting task even for the well-traveled. Due to some major changes to frequent flyer programs, there may be a flurry of not-so-loyal ship jumping. (See Delta and United’s change to revenue-based versus miles-based rewards)

Below is a quick update for changes in 2015 by airline. Of course, many changes will leave you staring into the sky as reward opportunities drift away. Alliances and travel club memberships may be a way of balancing the power. One such members-only OTA, www.LMTclub.com not only touts the lowest hotel rates in the world, but gives members TripleDip® Points for bookings – 1.) Member points toward free future bookings; 2.) Your points from eligible credit cards tied to airlines or hotel; 3.) Airline loyalty program points.www.lmtclub.com

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, ‘loyalty’ is defined as: a feeling of strong support for someone or something – Yeah, whatever…

Alaska Airlines

  • $15 call center booking fee for new awards booked over the phonePoint Bonus Table By Class
  • Increased mileage bonuses starting January 1, 2015
  • Cool Feature – You can transfer your miles to another Mileage Plan™ account (for a fee)

 

 

American / U.S. Airways

Ad Banner of Sea Turtle

  • By end of June, 2015 the Dividend Miles® and AAdvantage® program will merge
  • Earn 50% bonus for business class tickets (up from 25% today)
  • If you only have a US Airways program membership, an AAdvantage number will be assigned to you in the second quarter of 2015 with your miles and status in place.
  • Reservation systems are still separate until sometime late 2015. More info here.
  • Cool Feature – AAVacations has better than expected rates on hotels and more! See packages here.

Delta Airlines

  • Miles will be earned based on ticket price (past computation was based on distance flown)Member Cards– terrible news for General or Medallion members booking longer flights at market-value prices.
  • Members will be able to ‘pay’ using a combination of dollars and miles.
  • Now, one-way awards will be available starting at 12,500 miles.
  • Check out Delta’s new Award Calendar which shows the lowest price for a date range.
  • Cool Feature – Use SkyMiles® for Delta Sky Club membership!

 

 

Frontier Airlines

  • Effective February 20, 2015, Frontier will eliminate Ascent and Summit elite tiers and will offer only Frontier Elite forAnimal photos on tail wingEarlyReturns® members.
  • An increase of $5-$10 for carry-on bags will be imposed on Economy ticket purchases starting November 23, 2014 forward.
  • By joining Frontier’s Discount Den through June, 2015, members save $5 off every carry-on and first checked bag fee.
  • What’s Cool – The corporate announced a 5% increase in the dividend paid to shareholders (FTR) – well, it’s a start…!

 

 

jetBlue

Flight Attendants

  • Sometime in mid-2015, basic fare purchases won’t include checking 1st bag free for lowest-pricing tier.
  • Fleet updates will result in a bit less seat pitch (yet still most legroom of any U.S. carrier), larger in-seat screens, and expansion of Mint business class. See more here
  • Cool Feature – TrueBlue® members can donate points to charities and non-profits.

 

 

 

Southwest AirlinesUnderbelly of plane

  • Southwest will become the only US carrier that doesn’t charge for first bag for general bookings.
  • New logo and efficient online and app experience – (OK, I know this really has nothing to do with the loyalty program, but it’s new and flashy).
  • Cool Feature – Get some of the industry’s best hotel rates with their Jackpot Deals.

Spirit Airlines

  • For the $9 Fare Club, enrollment is $59.95, but automatic renewals are now $69.95
  • The membership program is called Free Spirit™, and no new changes to 2015 could be found, however Spirit announced 10 new non-stop destinations starting spring, 2015.
  • What’s Cool – Some of the lowest redemption levels in the industry.

United AirlinesPlane Flying

  • Miles will be earned based on ticket price (past computation was based on distance flown) – resulting in fewer points earned for MileagePlus® members booking longer flights at market-value prices.
  • Star Alliance partners (yet not ticketed on United) will still earn distance miles, but will not count towards United Premier Qualifying Dollars.
  • New redemption options are coming in 2015, yet final details have not been announced.
  • Cool Feature – Purchase previously expired miles over the last 18 months.

Virgin AmericaVA logo

  • Nothing new to report at this time
  • New routes are announced here
  • Cool Feature – Virgin America will match your elite status from other airline programs to your own Elevate Silver or Gold status through end of 2015!

 

Travel means more than just flights, of course, and after comparing hotel and car rental rates in the top 10 most visited US Cities, I’ve found that the above mentioned www.lmtclub.com consistently has the lowest rates. Travelers must become paid members, yet the savings from just one booking pays for the enrollment fee itself.

*Details retrieved from airline program websites. Full disclosure – the writer is a rewards member of: American Airlines; Delta Airlines; Frontier Airlines; jetBlue Airlines; Southwest Airlines; Spirit Airlines

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