It's a great time to be a traveler if you believe one particular study. It may seem like perks are shrinking for airline customers. There's no doubt that reduced seat sizes and diminished meal offerings can cause many travelers to feel squeezed. However, data compiled by IdeaWorksCompany and CarTrawler is revealing that carriers in the United States are actually growing more generous when it comes to giving away free miles. In fact, it's actually easier than ever before to redeem reward miles.
The average price for redeeming domestic reward tickets with the six largest carriers in the United States actually declined by 13.5 percent during the period from 2013 to 2018. That means more free flights for people who are able to earn points via airline loyalty programs.
Airlines are obviously waking up to the fact that they need to build long-term relationships with their customers if they want their loyalty programs to be profitable and sustainable. What's more, airlines would prefer that travelers actually use their miles instead of hoarding them. That's why reducing the number of reward miles needed to book seats is a smart plan.
Major carriers in the United States aren't just reducing prices for reward tickets. They are also changing the way miles are awarded. For instance, Delta and United both switched to revenue-based awards instead of distance-based awards back in 2014. American Airlines followed soon after. Southwest and JetBlue have actually been using revenue-based rewards for years. That means that all of the major carriers in the United States now award customers based on how much they pay for tickets instead of how many miles they fly. That suggests that carriers are now in the business of catering to big spenders.
One other trend is emerging when it comes to the way reward miles can be used. Delta now allows passengers to use their miles to upgrade their seats even after they've purchased tickets. What's more, Delta also routinely rolls out special flash sales for award seats that are exclusive to SkyMiles members.