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American and Turkish Airlines show dramatic increase in reward seat availability

DUBLIN, IRELAND – The CarTrawler Reward Seat Availability Survey answers the question, “How easy is redemption for the basic and most popular reward type offered by the world’s top airlines?” The 25 carriers in the survey remained almost the same as 2017, with China Eastern, Norwegian, and WestJet as newcomers for 2018.

Key findings from this year’s survey include:

  • The currency of frequent flyer programs is rapidly changing.
  • Reward pricing is being influenced by cash fares and market forces.
  • Some airlines are making dramatic improvements to reward availability and value.

Earning miles or points is rapidly shifting to spend-based methods rather than distance flown. Of the 25 airlines in the 2018 survey, 11 now use ticket prices to determine mileage and points accrual. The momentum of this shift is boosted by Air France/KLM and the Lufthansa Group switching to euro-based accrual during 2018.

These changes are now affecting how airlines deliver reward travel to members. In obvious and subtle ways, the prices of reward tickets are being influenced by cash fares. That’s because the global expansion of low cost carriers has created pricing disruption. Global network airlines are realizing the old binary method of using reward tables based on distance creates unreliable reward value. Members increasingly believe low fares should correspond to lower reward prices. For example, reward prices as low as 12,000 miles roundtrip were found on select Delta routes in the US, where the previous price was 25,000 miles roundtrip.

Member expectations and satisfaction are important for airlines seeking success. Happy members buy more tickets and use their co-branded credit cards more often. Perhaps this is why 11 airlines improvd their reward availability for 2018, while seven airlines had declines. Among the most significant changes is a huge 27.8 point increase of overall reward seat availability for American’s AAdvantage program and a giant 31.4 point increase for the Turkish Miles&Smiles program for long-haul reward availability Southwest Rapid Rewards held its first place position with an outstanding 100% score; every flight queried provided reward seats below the domestic saver-style level of 12,500 points/miles.

“CarTrawler is powering the evolution of airline loyalty packages by providing partners with targeted offerings that help them to reward loyal passengers in a new way. Our new on-demand taxi solution personalises the customer experience radically by giving loyalty members the option of booking their ride directly from the airline’s app and paying for it using loyalty miles.” Michael Cunningham, Senior Vice President of distribution Strategy at CarTrawler.

The following table summarizes the overall reward availability results of the 2018 survey:

Reward Availability Survey

Overall Reward Availability

Ranked High to Low – Seat Availability June through October, 2018

Rank

% Total

Availability

Airline

Program Name

Change from 2017 to 2018

1

100.0%

Southwest

Rapid Rewards

No change

2

96.4%

Air Canada

Aeroplan

6.4 points

3

95.0%

Turkish

Miles&Smiles

15.7 points

4

94.3%

JetBlue

TrueBlue

No change

5

91.4%

Lufthansa/SWISS/Austrian

Miles & More

0.7 points

6

90.7%

Qantas Group

Frequent Flyer

9.3 points

7

89.3%

China Eastern

Eastern Miles

New for 2018

8

84.3%

Norwegian

Norwegian Reward

New for 2018

9

82.1%

American

AAdvantage

27.8 points

10

80.0%

Air China

PhoenixMiles

5.7 points

80.0%

China Southern

Sky Pearl Club

5.0 points

11

77.1%

AirAsia Group

BIG Loyalty

1.4 points

12

75.7%

United

MileagePlus

10.7 points

13

72.1%

Delta

SkyMiles

2.2 points

14

69.3%

Alaska Group

Mileage Plan

12.1 points

15

68.6%

Korean Air

Skypass

2.8 points

16

65.7%

Emirates

Skywards

1.4 points

17

62.9%

Air France/KLM

Flying Blue

No change

18

62.1%

British Airways

Executive Club

12.2 points

19

61.4%

Cathay Pacific

Asia Miles

6.4 points

20

57.1%

WestJet

WestJet Rewards

New for 2018

21

55.0%

LATAM Airlines

LATAM Pass

6.4 points

22

54.3%

GOL

SMILES

No change

23

47.9%

Scandinavian

EuroBonus

7.8 points

24

27.1%

Avianca

LifeMiles

11.5 points

% of Total Availability = Percent of queries that result in outbound and return reward seats.

For tied results, carriers appear in alphabetical order.

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