Point Me to the Miles

Navigating the Path to Great Travel

Best and Worst Frequent Flyer Programs for Redemption

The Wall Street Journal published an article yesterday, discussing the best and worst frequent flyer programs for award redemption.  The study was performed by travel consultancy IdeaWorks Co, making nearly 7,000 queries on the websites for 23 separate airline programs.

The data was complied by searching for availability on the 10 busiest short-haul  and long-haul routes on 14 distinct round-trip dates between June and October.   Below is a graphical version of the data, some of which may not be surprising.

Obviously,  Delta SkyMiles are called SkyPesos for a reason.  And  US Airways Dividend miles don’t have much greater availability, but SouthWest Rapid Rewards Points do.

This study may affirm some of the basic perceptions about redeeming miles for air travel, but is misleading on two inter-related counts:

The source data is skewed a bit.

  • The searched only the the busiest routes on long-haul and short-haul routes.  I doubt everyone using miles plans to travel Los Angeles to Tokyo or New York to Chicago, to take a stab at some fairly common routes.
  •  In a related issue, particular destinations are not accounted for.  If we were looking for award availability between Los Angeles and Sydney, Delta would likely rank at the top of the list.  Or for a transcontinental award, if the the desired flights were Seattle to Anchorage, Alaska might rank at the top of the list.
  • It should be noted that none of the airlines that won Freddie Awards for best redemption ability were even listed hear.  Conspiracy, by chance?

“Premium” redemptions are not accounted for.

  • Premium-cabin awards are not accounted for.  I doubt Singapore Airlines would still rank highly if we were evaluating on the basis of Low-Level/Saver First Class award availability.  Or would US Airways if we were searching for partner award availability on Singapore Airlines.
  • SouthWest, AirTran, and JetBlue might have great award availability, and they get you from Point A to Point B, but hardly aspirational when compared to say, Cathay Pacific First Class.

Whether you think I am on to something, or just grossly misunderstanding things here, I would love to know what you guys think.


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One thought on “Best and Worst Frequent Flyer Programs for Redemption

  1. Pingback: Degradation of Elite Status (?) | Field Of Burch

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