Are airline loyalty schemes a waste of money?

Don't overlook the travel upgrades if you achieve a high level of status

There are travellers who have a preferred carrier and stedfastly refuse to believe that, despite negative press, there are potentially better carriers offering flights which may save you money. And improved flight at lower price is a bonus for everyone. Problem is, loyalty is king and which is why carrier’s spend huge amounts of money trying to convince us to stay with their brand.

Maybe it’s time to ask a few questions, starting with do you find yourself booking flights with your preferred airline in order to gain points? According to one flight club representative, you are wasting money by doing so.

The owner from Jack’s Flight Club, which offers flight deals to members via email and online, has said we’d be much better off looking for cheaper flights online as opposed to trying to save up airmiles for rewards due to their value.

Airlines such as British Airways, Virgin, Delta and others offer you miles when you book flights with them and you can use these miles to redeem against flights and other options later. However, the argument is that the value you get when booking is not valuable enough. 1 cent/penny per every dollar/pound isn’t enough according to Jack’s Flight Club founder and you’ll spend a lot more money by trying to stay loyal with the same airline over and over when the options for different destinations mean that you could save a lot by searching around and not going with the same airline.

There are some benefits of staying loyal and one of these is obtaining status. When you fly frequently with an airline you’ll be rewarded with an improving tier status such as bronze, silver and gold with the likes of British Airways, or Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond with Delta. The level of status offers a number of improved conveniences to improve your travel experience which can include booking the best seats for free in advance, access to the First Class lounge (even for shorter European flights), a personalised greeting and service once you’re onboard and even a dedicated call centre number in case you have issues with your booking.

In addition, don’t forget the complimentary upgrades you are more likely to secure with your status (for instance, if the flight is full, you’re more likely to be upgraded to a higher class if you are Gold or Silver status with your carrier) or you can simply use your accrued points to upgrade your ticket by another level.

Other benefits include additional checked luggage and early boarding – even if you book economy tickets. Delta also include other benefits such as free changes to tickets and if you reach their 360 status you will be chauffeured between flights in a Porche across the tarmac at Delta hubs. Other arguments for staying loyal is that by using reward credit cards from the airline or an American Express card you can earn airmiles on everyday purchases and is a huge benefit, so long as you pay off the credit card in full each month.

If you’re not a frequent flier then airmiles is are not worth the hassle. You’ll be chasing few points for minimum gain and you’d be wiser seeking the best deal on your flight rather than staying loyal with a particular carrier. However, with the benefits listed above it is worth considering if you fly frequently and if you travel regularly on business, don’t forget you earn miles which you can then use for your personal use.


About Author

Alex is a keen fitness and nutrition enthusiast, residing in the US, and contributes to travel, fitness and nutrition tips, news and other interesting tidbits.