Airline rewards programs changing

J.D. Power 2016 Airline Loyalty/Rewards Program Satisfaction Report has found while various airlines offer different ways to earn and redeem points or miles, loyalty/rewards program member satisfaction is driven by the ease of redeeming points/miles and the terms associated with the program, the company said.

The report, now in its third year, measures member satisfaction with airline loyalty and rewards programs based on six factors: ease of redeeming points/miles; reward program terms; account maintenance/management; ease of earning points/miles; variety of benefits available; and customer service.

The report indicates airline rewards programs are changing. Members used to earn status and rewards based on the number of miles flown or by the carrier segment in which members flew. Several high-profile programs have now transitioned to a system in which members earn miles based on dollars spent rather than miles or segments flown. There is also a minimum amount of dollar spend some programs require before a member can achieve the highest level of elite status. Points are also earned by using co-branded credit and debit cards or by spending money at associated retail outlets, rental car companies, hotels or other associated businesses. Airlines are expected to continue transitioning in 2016–and in some cases, making it more challenging to earn status and redeem miles.