Airline reward programs are supposed to show some love to faithful flyers, but that doesn't always mean those feelings are reciprocated.
An online survey published by Frequent Business Traveler and FlyerTalk found that when it came to appeasing travellers, Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan left their passengers feeling the most satisfied while Aimia's Aeroplan program left nearly seven out of 10 customers longing for something more.
The study of over 1,300 respondents on Flyer Talk's Miles and Points forum asked readers to rate how satisfied they were with their airline's reward program by choosing between "very satisfied", "satisfied", and "not satisfied." Airlines needed over 93 responses to make the cut, leaving just 12 airline programs in North America and Europe.
Alaska Airlines held onto the top spot with over 91 per cent of participants saying they were "satisfied" with redeeming points with the U.S. carrier. The survey doesn't specifically state what determines a passenger's satisfaction or dissatisfaction, as Forbes points out, though the usual suspects include how easy it is to accumulate -- and spend -- points; the kind of flight upgrades available and what kind of partnerships available for travellers to redeem points at designated hotels or car rental services.
2013's Best And Worst Frequent Flyer Rewards Program. Story contines below
The results do seem to match up with past complaints with some of the lower performing reward programs. In the U.S., Delta Airlines had over 67 per cent of voters say they were dissatisfied with the SkyMiles program. The airline has drawn criticism for the minimum number of points needed to earn a free flight.
According to USA Today, it takes 25, 000 SkyMiles for a free round-trip coach ticket within the States. However, the program has earned the ire of seasoned travellers who say it's not feasible to find a desired flight and instead have to save for higher-tiered flights.
"Of all the mileage programs out there, Delta is the most unfriendly in terms of the number of miles you need to redeem an award ticket," Aik-Meng Tan, vice president of sales for New York-based OKT Travel, told USA Today.
In Canada, Aimia's Aeroplan was voted the worst program in Frequent Business Traveler's survey with 68 per cent of respondents saying they weren't happy with the program. The current program imposes some of the stiffest expiration restrictions. Aeroplan members can lose their points if there's no activity for 12 months or if they aren't redeemed within seven years. The program also charges 67 per cent of a round-way trip for a free one-way ticket, according to SmarterTravel.com
There is some good news for Aeroplan members, though.
The program will be overhauled in 2014, does away with the seven-year mileage redemption policy and will price one-way trips at half the miles needed for a round-trip. However, the program will also raise he cost of some flights. For example, the cost to redeem a business-class flight from North America to North Asia will jump from 125,000 miles to 150,000.
Do you have a favourite frequent flyer program? We'd like to hear about in the comment section below or on Twitter @HPCaTravel