Two Ways to Make Frequent Flier Programs Better

Dec 18, 1999

1) Allow people an unlimited amount of time to accumulate frequent flier miles towards a trip. After all, the cost of running the frequent flier program is factored into the cost of each ticket. By making it difficult or impossible for leisure travelers to earn a free ticket, the airlines are charging those travelers for something they'll never qualify for. Airlines which we don't use frequently have sometimes sent us vouchers for magazine subscriptions which can be claimed for as little as 1500 miles, but we would really prefer the chance to get a trip, however long that might take.
2) Even better, make a "Family Frequent Flier Account." When we traveled as a family of five, it was a tremendous expense, but yet we each had to accumulate our miles individually. It would take our three children years to earn that free trip (and then only because we used an FFB program whose miles never expired, TWA's. For programs whose miles expire in one year, such as Southwest Air's, most family members could never get free trips.) The one credit card paying for airfares for a family of five is purchasing as much travel as one person purchasing five individual trips. While hotels and restaurants frequently give families a break ("kids stay free", "kids under 5 eat free") airline public relations departments can't think past those little sets of plastic wings.
I predict that the first airline to allow "Family Frequent Flier Accounts" would corner the leisure travel market, particularly to family-friendly sites such as Orlando.

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