I thought someone had messed up and assumed "ORD" was the code for Orlando. When I looked at my mileage statement and saw I'd received only 215 miles for flying from Miami to Chicago, I called the airline's customer service to find out what happened.
"We've switched to a revenue-based system now," the rep told me. "So you only get a percentage of the miles based on the fare you paid."
Used to be, you'd earn air travel perks based on distances flown, not dollars spent. Now the legacy carriers -- United, Delta, American, and whatever airlines they've absorbed -- have taken their part of "loyalty" out of their customer loyalty plans, taking lots of the value (not to mention fun) with them. But one airline is still giving 100% credit no matter how big or small the spend: Alaska. And now that it has completed a $4 billion merger with Virgin America, there's little reason for anyone to be "loyal" to the legacies ever again. Here's why.
The great Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan hack
I've been an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan member since I was 10, when my family moved to Seattle and my mom signed us up. Living in Miami now, I still use Alaska as my frequent-flyer program of choice, not because I enjoy using an airline with just one flight a day in my hometown. Rather, I stayed because Alaska partnered with American, Delta, and other airlines that flew to South Florida.