Pros: Mileage does not expire. Large route network. Mileage Partners. Internet account. Free ticket: 25,000 miles.
Cons: Northwest Airlines is financially unstable. Blackout dates.
Ive been a member of Northwest Airlines World Perks Frequent Flyer program for so long that my membership card says Northwest Orient. Anyone remember that name? In that time the companys fortuned have risen and fallen, but the World Perks Frequent Flyer program has trudged onward with only occasional changes. Thats surprising when you consider that the airline itself is now on the brink of bankruptcy!
How the program works
Most frequent flyer programs credit members with mileage for however many miles you fly on a given route. For example, a roundtrip flight that is 900 air miles each way would earn you 1,800 frequent flyer miles. As other flights occur the mileage accumulates in the account. When a certain level of mileage is reached (currently 25,000 miles) the World Perks member will have earned a free flight, a free upgrade to First Class, or a free gift of some sort.
Mileage credited to your World Perks account never expires, which is a big advantage of this frequent flyer program over some others. If you only fly a few times a year (like me), it may take a few years to reach the mileage level for a reward. But you will not lose the mileage credits already accumulated.
Ways to earn mileage
Membership in World Perks in free and you can enroll through their website or by filling out an enrollment form found at Northwest Airlines service counters. New members often get some type of bonus - like a 1,000 mileage credit. Thereafter mileage is credited on a mile for mile basis. Currently World Perks also offers an additional 50% mileage credit for First Class paying travelers.
Occasionally Northwest will award World Perks members with bonus miles for between certain cities on certain dates, like an extra 1,000 miles to fly from Memphis to Cleveland in February.
Northwest will allow you to accumulate frequent flyer mileage in World Perks even if you fly certain other Airlines Partners. Currently, some of the Airline Partners are as follows:
Delta, Continental, Alitalia, Air France, Czech Airlines, Aeromexico, KLM, America West, China Southern, and Garuda Indonesia.
This is not an exhaustive list, and not all segments flown on these airlines qualify for World Perks mileage.
On World Perks you can earn mileage through activities other than flying. Renting cars, dining in certain restaurants, hotels, cruise lines, on-line retailers, and credit card companies have partnered with World Perks to provide mileage credit to members for using their services. The amount of mileage awarded varies, depending on the partner. The following is a sampling of some of the Mileage Partners of World Perks:
Car Rentals: Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo, National
Hotels: All Choice Hotels (Quality Inn, Econo Lodge) Radisson, Country Inn Suites, Hampton Inn, Doubletree, Marriott, Courtyard, Sheraton, Westin, Pan Pacific Hotels.
Credit card: World Perks VISA
This is not an exhaustive list, and in my experience the mileage partners change rather frequently. The only mileage partners I have used is the rental car, and I just had to show my World Perks account card to get credited with, in that case, an additional 500 miles.
Your account activity can be mailed to you or accessed at www.nwa.com/freqfly on the World Perks page. I recently checked my balance and had the following data:
Banked Miles: 12,676
Locked Miles: 0
Elite Qualifying Miles: 1,960
Mileage since enrollment: 107,676
So currently I have 12,676 miles that are not designated (locked) for a future flight. The elite miles would qualify towards the Elite Status, but Ill never qualify since you need at least 25,000 miles at a specific rate classes. I currently need about 12,400 more miles to earn another free trip.
When you reach 25,000 miles in your account you qualify for a free roundtrip plane ticket within the US (except Hawaii, which requires 35,000 miles). A flight to Europe requires 50,000 miles, and South America is 35,000. The South Pacific is 100,000 miles!
When you go to redeem, the dreaded phrase Black Out Dates will rear its ugly head. These are days, usually around holidays, when World Perks redemptions are not permitted. Also, the 25,000-mile threshold requires a Saturday night stay unless you use the Rule Buster Award, which is basically more miles.
Your best bet is to peruse the Northwest Airlines website and see if you can fit your travel plans into what is available for the World Perks Award. Also, you can call Northwest directly or use a travel agent to figure out when you can fly for free. Miles can also be redeemed for First Class Upgrades, transferred to others, or donated using the AirCares program.
I have always called 800-447-3757 to redeem, since my internet connection is sometimes tenuous. However, I have always been able to book a free ticket as wanted since I was flying at off times between two US cities.
Elite Status Qualifications
World Perks offers an Elite Status membership, which is awarded by traveling as little as 25,000 miles on qualified routes within a year. There are Silver, Gold, and Platinum membership levels. Members get additional bonus miles per flight, upgrades to First class on full fare coach tickets, an exclusive reservation phone line access, priority check-in, seat selection privileges, and a waived initiation fee in the World Clubs rooms. Are you worth it?
I think that Northwests World Perks is one of the better frequent flyer programs around. Mileage does not expire, there are numerous mileage partners, airline partners that help accumulate mileage, and redeeming awards is not too difficult (despite the blackout dates). Northwest also has a fairly extensive route network too.
One big drawback is that Northwest is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Although the airlines demise is unlikely, there is the possibility of reduced air service and a less favorable frequent flyer program. If you travel enough to make it worthwhile I think Northwests World Perks stacks up pretty well against the other frequent flyer programs.
Other review that may interest you
Northwest Airlines-Great Flight Crew, Wicked Old Witch Ticket Agent
© trailhound. 2006.