Feel­ing the Love

Business Traveler (USA) - - SPECIAL REPORT -

“The gap be­tween pay­ers and non-pay­ers con­tin­ues to nar­row,” saysy Rick Gar­lick, global and travel and hos­pi­tal­ity prac­tice lead at J.D. Pow Power. Yet, th the level of sat­is­fac­tion in air­line re­ward re­demp­tion re­main re­mains high, ac­cord­ing to a re­cently re­leased study by J.D. Power. Althou Although the re­port was com­mis­sioned by sev­eral air­lines, it in­di­cat in­di­cated an over­all sat­is­fac­tion by fliers de­spite the poli­cies that re­quir re­quire the dol­lar spend over miles earned. Six fac­tors were mea­sured: ease of re­deem­ing points/miles; rewa re­ward pro­gram terms; ac­count main­te­nance/man­age­ment; e ease of earn­ing points/miles; va­ri­ety of ben­e­fits avail­able; and cus­tomer service. Sat­is­fac­tion was mea­sured on a 1,000-point scale. Most an­swers came out on the up­per end of the scale: 650-882. High­est on ev­ery­one’s list in the sur­vey was Alaska Air­lines, which for West Coast fliers, al­lows a miles for­mula and has strong part­ner pro­grams. Other smaller car­ri­ers with a strong and loyal fan base in­clude JetBlue,Vir­gin Amer­ica and South­west Air­lines, although these air­lines also op­er­ate pro­grams that are rev­enue based. “Alaska’s pur­chas­ing of Vir­gin Amer­ica will mean a lot more util­ity as pieces come to­gether,”says Harteveldt. “And as Alaska builds up more of a pres­ence it could pose a very cred­i­ble chal­lenge to the other air­lines. JetBlue has a pres­ence in im­por­tant mar­kets for United and Delta and will no doubt grow. Trav­el­ers could move busi­ness in those di­rec­tions,”he notes. “I don’t fault air­lines for try­ing to make money,” Harteveldt says.“But economies are cycli­cal and there are a lot of peo­ple out there re­assess­ing their loy­al­ties.” BT

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