Loyalty is Dead! Long Live Loyalty!!

What is the future of airline loyalty programs? And is it still worth playing the game? That was the topic of conversation for about 30 minutes today on a Huffington Post Live segment and I think that Ben, Angelina, Josh and I had a very reasonable discussion on the topic.

I absolutely believe that the airlines and the programs are run far more like other, large industrial businesses today than they were 5 or 10 years ago (especially the airline side of things) and that the cuts to earning via flying absolutely affect the mileage running crew but that’s the very, very, very small minority and there is far more good today than 5 or 10 years ago. I believe that the loyalty programs (though there were more of them) were just as similar to each other 10 years ago as the big ones are to each other today. But it is different, and change can be hard.

Give the segment a watch and let me know what you think.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I watched this and left a comment. I am a very long time FF original on eastern airlines , Delta and United
    Back then it was all based on revenue. My travel agent signed me up because I was a great customer. It was a reward for buying full fare FC. Today it’s all about entitlement with a boat load of whiners who complain that they should be treat like a real customer paying a real fare, just because they get a cheap cheap mileage run ticket.

    Sorry in real life you get what you pay for, Suck it up and do what we business travelers do pay for it.

  2. Yeah, as opposed to entitlement of business travelers–you know, these bona fide road warriors who pay for their full fare tickets with their employers money. Yes, you are the ones who suffer for your soup, never let anyone else forget that,

  3. Interesting listen.
    I’ved been flying since 1988 for business. I’d call this the Golden Age of travel. I started with no status, and worked my way up to Million Miler on UA. The oldtimers experienced all the fun as we went from the bottom of the ladder to the top. Nothing like using a SWU to fly all the way to JFK from NRT or SYD upfront, and on a low cost ticket to boot.

    I feel sorry that all the under 40 readers won’t experience all the fun I did.

  4. I wish there was an opportunity for audience Q&A. I’ve noticed Ben Schlappig’s stiff upper lip since the AADvantage devaluation. What I really would like to know is who reads One Mile At A Time. Ben’s opinions are definitely relevant to road warriors and those who extensively leisure travel with a focus on luxury. How many of his readers fit those parameters? My gut feeling is many of the readers are like me – solidly in the middle class. I’ve taken ten international award trips in the last ten years, but I’ve worked the ff programs to my advantage, given what I have to work with. It’s been a great ride, giving me a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

    OMAAT was until recently one of my favorite diversions during the workday, but it became less relevant as the material became stale. The flights on his trip reports were doable by the majority of us with some planning and effort. With the recent devaluations, I wonder how many of his current readers will simply realize they will never ride in first on Cathay. You were right when you stated many will be better off with cash back cards. I’ve done quite well with miles programs, but if Alaska (my last hold out) goes along with the competition, I too will go with a cash back card.

    If I were in Lucky’s shoes, I’d be concerned. He has done an amazing job creating a dream job and lifestyle through his blog. His lifestyle is based on an AMWAY model, and at some point something will have to give. Fewer people will click his credit card links and he will have to adapt. It will be interesting to see how he reinvents himself.

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