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How Do Frequent Flyer Miles Actually Work?

Mar 7, 2008
If you are a frequent traveler you might have considered enrolling yourself in a frequent flyer program but you might be wondering how it all works. Put simply, these programs allow flyers to earn free miles of flight for every mile traveled. Most people who must travel a lot for their jobs or for other reasons such as visiting family, a program such as one of these is a very smart choice.

Flyer programs are somewhat easy to understand. For each mile that the airline customers travel, they earn a mile of frequent flyer miles. The catch is that they must travel on the airline that they signed up with. For example, American Airlines frequent flyers do not earn flyer miles if they travel on a Delta flight. This is why it is smartest to choose one airline and stick to it, rather than trying to accumulate air miles with numerous airlines.

The more you travel, the more miles you accumulate and the more you are rewarded. Many airlines have levels, such as silver, gold and platinum, to signify the status of frequent fliers. The more one travels, the higher in rank they will rise. If your airline is affiliated with a hotel or rental car service, miles may translate into points, which can be used towards airline tickets, rental car prices, or hotel stays.

Once you have accumulated a certain amount of miles, you will be able to redeem them for rewards. Airlines typically have an 800 number where customers can speak with representatives who are familiar with the frequent flyer program. This provides convenience for customers who are looking to redeem frequent flyer miles or for customers who may have a question or concern about the program. When redeeming miles for free airline tickets, each mile accumulated is the equivalent of two cents. Therefore, in order to purchase a $200 airline ticket for free, a customer would have to have 10,000 miles accumulated, each worth two cents each.

If you do enroll yourself in a frequent flyer program, keep in mind that many programs have a frequently issued newsletter to keep customers abreast of new promotions, offers and partners. There also may be postings on the airlines website or the frequent flyer program website, if the program has its own website. Also be sure to keep track of the points and miles you have accumulated on your own, in case the airline has a mishap with its system.

So how did the frequent flyer program begin? In the early 1980s American Airlines initiated the frequent flyer program by introducing a program that rewarded people for frequently flying on American Airlines. The airline used its database to track customers travel and keep track of how many miles were covered, this let them know when rewards were to be given. After beginning the program American Airlines teamed up with Hertz Rental Cards and Hyatt Hotels to make it even easier for customers to earn rewards. Soon after other airlines followed and competed with one another to have the most appealing frequent flyer program for its customers. This was beneficial to frequent fliers because it created competition between airlines to create the best program, making it better for customers.

After the programs became hugely successful in the United States, the programs expanded to international airlines as well. Some American airlines will team up with airlines in other countries to form alliances. This makes it easier for frequent flyer customers to travel abroad. If a frequent flyer is flying in a country where their airline is not available but their airlines partner airline is available, the customers frequent flyer miles can transfer over from the miles flown on this flight.

The main goal of the frequent flyer program was for airlines to develop and sustain solid relationships with their customers. Frequent fliers will most likely develop a loyalty to their particular airline and will make sure that all their flights are aboard the airlines planes. Word of mouth is one of the most successful marketing techniques and by gaining loyal, satisfied customers, airlines are increasing the chance that those customers will tell their friends and family how happy they are with the airline.
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To find more tips about travel and frequent flyer miles visit http://comprehensive-travel.com
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