US News & World Report picks Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan as best

US News & World Report said it has released the 2015-16 Best Travel Rewards Programs.

The annual rankings feature information on 28 airline and hotel loyalty programs to help travelers easily identify programs with the most perks. For the first time, Alaska Airlines´ Mileage Plan tops the list of the Best Airline Rewards Programs. Marriott Rewards holds onto the No. 1 spot in the Best Hotel Rewards category for the third year in a row.

“Many travel loyalty programs come with a string of caveats, making it challenging to maximize your rewards,” says Liz Weiss, travel editor for US News. “Our rankings highlight the programs that make it easy to earn free flights or hotel stays and offer plenty of reward options and perks that travelers value, such as upgrades, free checked bags and priority boarding access.”

The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan tops the Best Airline Rewards list this year because of its generous elite membership benefits, ease of earning free round-trip flights and high network coverage — a new addition to the methodology that evaluates the breadth and diversity of routes offered by each airline and its alliance network. US News also evaluated flight volume, free flight options and airline quality. To be ranked, a program had to be tied to a US-based airline.

2015-16 Top 5 Best Airline Rewards Programs:

1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
2. American Airlines AAdvantage
3. Southwest Rapid Rewards
4. JetBlue TrueBlue
5. HawaiianMiles

US News & World Report is a digital news and information company that empowers people to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives.