by Stephen Mattson,
Every traveler enjoys receiving free, upgraded, and discounted airline perks. Airline companies have loyalty programs that reward returning customers by allocating “points” and “miles” to individuals based on the time, distance, and frequency of their traveling.
Most loyalty programs are free, and customers simply have to sign up in order to become a member. Airlines won’t acknowledge any credit for trips taken unless individuals are already registered within their loyalty program. Upon receiving loyalty points/miles, they can be exchanged for free and reduced flights and other incentives. Here are some tips for using an airline’s loyalty program and receiving airline perks:
Always use the same airline company, and limit yourself to one loyalty program. Most worthwhile perks require substantial amounts of time and travel. Long-distance trips across the world are worth valuable amounts of credit, and taking a separate carrier for even a single trip can dramatically limit your account’s worth.
For business travelers, most corporations already have contracts with a single airline company, but for recreational travelers, the options for flights may change depending on costs, departure and arrival times, and seasonal travel habits. Even though prices may seem more affordable by using different airlines, it will decrease your loyalty earnings. Eventually loyalty programs will offset the expenses you would pay by using different airlines.
Take advantage of program partners:
Each airline’s loyalty program has a list of partners. These partners include: travel agencies, hotel chains, car rentals, and restaurants. Like airlines, these companies offer points and credit in exchange for buying and using their services. Travelers can redeem and accrue credit at any of the partner locations, including airlines.
This means that fliers can increase their airline benefits by staying at partner hotels or renting vehicles from partner dealerships. Each loyalty program has a list of participating companies. Use these companies whenever possible to increase the amount of credit you can later redeem for additional airline perks. Many travelers fail to take advantage of a loyalty program’s full list of cooperating corporations – ultimately losing out on substantial airline credit opportunities.
Credit card companies also partner with various loyalty programs. Find out which credit card is associated with your loyalty program. Since many people use their credit cards for numerous and expensive purchases, points can quickly pile up simply by regularly using a credit card.
Search for deals:
With the economy struggling, loyalty programs often present free credits through coupons, online deals, and email promotions. Join their mailing and email lists. Although rare, these limited-time offers can add timely points to your account. These points the account’s worth without having to travel or purchase anything.
The purpose of a loyalty program is to gain and retain customers. These programs handsomely reward referrals. Recruit business associates, friends, and family into the loyalty program. Not only do first-time members usually receive a small amount of bonus credit, but you’ll receive substantial credit for adding business (and revenue) to the company.
If you have relationships with other program members, these people can donate points by signing them over into your account. Although a small fee is usually involved, anyone in the loyalty program can contribute a portion from their account and donate it into yours. Some people have too few credits to be useful, so they simply pass them on to a friend. Whatever the reason, this is another good way to add perks to your airline account.
Like everything else, the airline industry is in fierce competition for your money. Airline customer service agents will try to accommodate any request (within reason). Don’t be afraid to ask for upgraded seating, a free meal, or discounted ticket prices.
Airline perks can lower costs, increase comfort, and make any trip more pleasurable. Acquiring them requires patience and persistence, but by following the guidelines listed above, the payoff will be worth the effort.