Stats: United’s MileagePlus Rated World’s Best Airline Loyalty Program

A recent study by Good Travel Management, a U.K.-based business travel management company, reveals the number of air passengers in 2022 increased by roughly 47 percent compared to 2021. This is great news for airlines, whose bottom line deteriorated during global lockdowns and pandemic restrictions.

Many airlines are upping the ante on their loyalty programs to attract a wider range of clientele—even those who aren’t regular travelers—and to supply timely experiences that consumers now expect. Good Travel Management has ranked global airlines in order of their best customer loyalty schemes. The company standardized the latest available data for each loyalty scheme in relevant categories like “average monthly Google searches,” “points expiry,” “lounge reviews” and “minimum legroom” to rank major airline schemes around the world out of 10.

Of the 59 loyalty schemes analyzed MileagePlus with United Airlines is in first position with an overall score of 7.85/10. Despite, its recent price increases on all tickets to Europe, MileagePlus still has a range of ways to earn and redeem miles for the best value, of all the airlines studied. It has over 100 million members and is known for its lucrative travel credit card offers. MileagePlus has the highest positive score for points expiry (10), with points on the scheme having no expiry date. It also receives a near perfect score for the number of destinations (9.75) it flies to, which is 342. It has one of the highest scores for legroom as well, with passengers being treated to a generous 75 inches during a long-haul flight (9.22).

Aeroplan with Air Canada ranks second (6.53). It regularly offers unique ways for members to earn points, with the company’s latest partnership enabling members to earn points by linking their account with their Uber/Uber Eats account in Canada. The study revealed it has one of the highest global average monthly Google search volume scores of all the airlines studied (8.18), with over 368,000 monthly searches. It also has positive scores for lounge reviews (7) and provides the same generous legroom as MileagePlus. However, it misses out on the top spot due to a low points expiry (0.25) timeframe of only 18 months, and a lower number of destination options (222 in total).

Completing the top three best programs is Miles & Smiles with Turkish Airlines (6.23). It has the best lounge review score of the top three airlines (8.57), but loses points because of its limited points expiry of only 36 months. It offers significantly less legroom than the top two airlines (6.27), of 60 inches.

The loyalty program with the poorest rating is Free Spirit (0.73) with Spirit Airlines. This might not come as a surprise as a recent survey asked which major U.S.-based carriers Americans would avoid flying with. Spirit Airlines had the dubious honor of finishing first with 21 percent of the votes. Spirit was also voted lowest in passenger satisfaction in the “2023 American Customer Satisfaction Index.” Free Spirit receives low scores in all categories, with the poorest being 0 for the points expiry category, as they are only valid for 12 months. It also only receives a score of 1.2 out of 5 for its airline Trustpilot score and flies to just 83 destinations.

Volare (0.86) with ITA Airways and myFrontier (0.88) with Frontier Airlines complete the bottom three.

Richard Quelch, group CMO of Good Travel Management said: “It is positive to see the travel industry starting to recover from the impact of the global pandemic and interesting to observe what airlines are offering to entice more members to join their loyalty schemes.

“We hope to see lots of exciting innovations and extras added to these programs in the coming months, which will hopefully make flying even more memorable and pleasurable for travelers, whether they are on a business trip or heading off on vacation.”

Source: Good Travel Management

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