Airline loyalty rewards program benefits that extend beyond airline services and ticket fees have a significant effect on customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power 2017 Airline Loyalty Program Satisfaction Study, the company said.
Overall satisfaction is considerably higher among program members earning rewards in restaurants, product purchases, and car rentals than among those just earning airline flights alone.
The study measures member satisfaction with airline loyalty and rewards programs based on four factors (in order of importance): earning and redeeming rewards; program benefits; account management; and member communication. Satisfaction is measured on a 1,000-point scale.
Frequent fliers want more than miles: Overall satisfaction increases by 77 points when airline loyalty members earn rewards in restaurants. Rewards for product purchases result in a satisfaction increase of 68 points and car rentals result in an increase of 69 points. Earning airline flights only adds 2 points, on average, to loyalty members´ overall satisfaction with a program.
Favorite benefits: When it comes to reaping the rewards of membership, “lowest price guarantee” accounts for a 109-point increase in customer satisfaction and “waiving a same-day change fee” based on loyalty status adds 104 points to overall customer satisfaction.
Status members are more satisfied than general members: The average overall satisfaction score among airline loyalty rewards members who have a status above general membership is 814. That compares with an overall satisfaction score of 744 among those with general membership. Status members are also more likely to be brand advocates, with 59% of status members classified as “promoters” vs. 49% of general members.
JetBlue Airways TrueBlue ranks highest in overall member satisfaction with airline loyalty/rewards programs, with a score of 800. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan ranks second with a score of 796, followed by Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards at 793.
The 2017 Airline Loyalty Program Satisfaction Study measures member satisfaction with airline rewards and loyalty programs. The study is based on 3,387 responses from rewards program members and was fielded in September 2017.