Poll: Is it worth it to stay loyal to one airline?

An article came out today saying that unless you fly a ton it’s not worth it to be loyal to any one airline. It’s clear that airlines see frequent flier programs as a place to save money, as evidenced by the erosion of benefits and the increased difficulty in redeeming miles. The article goes on to say that if you are a business traveler or fly at least four times per month there is still value to be had, but otherwise you’re better off just going with the lowest cost carrier.

My two cents is that the article makes some points, but missed the mark a bit. You definitely don’t have to fly four times per month for the benefits to be worth it—I take two to three trips per month and would find benefits worth it flying half that amount. For me, points are secondary. Yes, they are lovely to have, but I care far more about elite benefits than vacations I don’t have time to take. I think business travelers often need and appreciate elite benefits more than the points. Upgrades to first class, seats with more leg room, free wifi, and early boarding are all benefits that help me have more productive work trips. I never check bags so I don’t need that benefit (although many airline affiliated credit cards give offer free checked bags). However, if you don’t need elite benefits to get work done then staying loyal to one airline probably isn’t worth it.

Readers, what do you think?

Is it worth it to stay loyal to one airline?

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  1. For me points are important. Flying UA for work gets me points that I can use to fly better airlines internationally in my leasure. I don’t care about the big seat economy that UA misnames first class. If I made the same points on UA as I do with other airlines I would just fly other airlines. Heading to Asia, well Eva or Singapore, EU or Middle east, FH, Turk or Etihad. When I get paid international biz class I would feel much happier being free to spend on a foreign carrier. UA seems to degrading the frequent flyer program, the only positive differentiator amongst US and international competition.

  2. I picked “Other” in the poll, because until the Repeal of the Love Field Wright Amendment on Oct. 14th, I’m loyal to both AA and Southwest. After Oct. 14th, I will try to book most of my business trips on Southwest, but I will still need to fly AA a few places if I want a direct flight. With the AA Gold Advantage, my company doesn’t have to pay baggage fees, so that, and the convenience to DFW is why I don’t book other airlines. But Southwest is my favorite airline and I will be loyal to it regardless of their Awards Program. After 21 years of business travel, I’ve got enough free miles to last a long time!

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