Frequent Flyer Program Award Redemption Satisfaction: The Best and Worst Airlines for 2013

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A total of 1,342 readers took part in our survey, and a concurrent DSC_0709discussion on FlyerTalk’s Miles and Points forum generated over 5,000 views while the survey was in progress.

Participants in Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan reported being the happiest with their ability to redeem awards.  Ninety-one percent of the respondents participating in the program reported being satisfied with their ability to redeem flights on the dates they wanted and 38% were very satisfied.

Mileage Plan topped the list in last year’s award redemption satisfaction survey  as well , with an 85% satisfaction rate among its members,

On top of achieving increasingly high rates of satisfaction from its participants, Mileage Plan also received the least amount of negative responses with a low 9% disapproval rating, significantly less than last year’s 15%.

Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program moved up in the rankings this year.  Last year, it ranked third with a 74% rate of satisfaction.  This year, the program earned the silver medal; 83% of the member respondents were satisfied with their ability to redeem awards, 44% of who reported being very satisfied.  FlyerTalk member FrequentSleeper expressed his satisfaction “with availability on SW, especially since there’s frequently an ultra-low mileage ticket available” for him to purchase.  Rapid Rewards also shed 6% of its naysayers, moving from 23% in last year’s results to 17% in this year’s.

American Airlines’ AAdvantage placed third in the rankings.  79% of its member respondents were happy with the award redemption aspect of the program; 28% said they were very satisfied while 51% said they were satisfied.  Although American slipped from second place in last year’s poll to third place this year, its approval rating increased by three points.

United’s MileagePlus was the best-represented program on our list this year, with nearly 700 program members responding to our poll.  Popularity, however, did not translate into a top rating as the program ranked fifth.  Separated by fourth-place JetBlue TrueBlue by a fraction of a percent, MileagePlus achieved 77% satisfaction among its members, 36% of which, compared to TrueBlue’s 17%, reported being very satisfied.

A high number of responses did not always correlate to satisfaction with a program’s award redemption process.  While we received 642 responses from participants in Delta’s frequent flyer program, an overwhelming majority, 67%, were not satisfied with SkyMiles when it came to award redemptions.  Only 9% said they were very satisfied and 24% indicated they were merely satisfied.  The good news for Delta is that the airline’s ranking improved substantially compared to last year, when the program placed last with a 73% disapproval rating.

This year, Air Canada’s Aeroplan was the least satisfactory program for award redemption, eliciting a 68% dissatisfaction rate.  Only 5% of the 231 Aeroplan member respondents indicated that they were very satisfied and 27% said they were satisfied.  Indeed, Air Canada plummeted in the ratings.  Last year, it was solidly in the middle of the pack as number ten (out of 15) with 55% of survey respondents indicating they were dissatisfied.

FlyerTalk member Shareholder said that Aeroplan was “indeed the worst program for award redemptions, both [regarding] availability and cost.”

This year, Aeroplan and SkyMiles were the only two programs that failed to achieve satisfaction rates from at least half of their members.

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