We have had a couple of readers ask, “Which frequent flyer program is the best?” A lot of people don’t realize that it’s a common question without an easy answer.
Transportation, particularly airline transportation, is a major factor in the tourism industry. Today, airlines have moved toward competing with each other via extra benefits and perks. In part, this takes the form of airline frequent flyer programs. Let’s take a look at four of the major airlines and their benefits, as well as key factors and other information that will be useful in deciding which frequent flyer program is best for you.
There are essentially 4 main Airlines in the US. Below is a comparison chart of the frequent flyer programs offered by each of the 4 carriers:
The key to maximizing your mileage earning potential is to select one preferred frequent flyer program and stick with it. Again, you find yourself asking, ‘Which program is the best?’ Since there are several different airline programs and various determining factors in selecting a program, the best program is essentially the one that works best for YOU. With that said, the best program for you will be the one that provides you with the most opportunities for mileage accrual and the most rewards with the least amount of effort and cost.
Generally, the key factors in selecting a program should be based on where you live and how frequently you travel. Where you live determines your main airport, and since each airport typically has one airline that dominates the share of flight schedules and availability, the program for that carrier will most likely be the best choice for accruing mileage during travel. How frequently you travel will determine your ability to reach different tiers within a program, which determine the additional perks that are available to you. For many program members, the goal is to accrue enough miles to earn free travel. However if you travel frequently, you may want to focus on perks that come with reaching different tiers within the various programs. Elite status allows you access to preferred seating, priority boarding, upgrades, waived baggage fees, and more!
**Special thanks to Michelle Reese, Travel Manager with Integress Meetings and Events for her significant contribution to this post.