You don't have to be George Clooney in Up in the Air to know that frequent flyer status gets you great perks. Because really, you can't be George Clooney, and movies are fiction. But in a world of perks, points, promises, and other alliterations, it's tough to know where to cast your lot to maximize your airline miles.
Well, travel deal site Airfarewatchdog polled a bunch of frequent flyers to find out which US airline has the best rewards program. And according to 1,500 respondents, Southwest Airlines came out on top.
Netting 35% of the vote, Southwest stood out for its one-price-buys-all business class seats, its no-fee policy on ticket changes and checked bags, and myriad reward redemption options. Nobody likes hidden fees, apparently. Like many of the best frequent flyer programs, Southwest bases its awards on money spent, not miles traveled. Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program also allows you to potentially earn a coveted Companion Pass, which lets your friend, mistress, or mother fly for free once you earn enough points. Who flies with you is obviously up to you, weirdo.
Delta received 17% of the vote, although the company recently revamped its program for 2015, basing points earned on ticket price and not miles flown. American Airlines was right on Delta's coattails at 14% of the vote, and the completion of American’s merger with US Airways creates one super-program, which could make it even more lucrative for flyers in the future.
Here’s how the rest of the list shaped up. Keep in mind, this is a poll of frequent flyers, and not an analysis of which program gives you the most for your points.
10. Allegiant - 1%
9. Spirit - 1%
8. Frontier - 2%
7. Hawaiian - 4%
6. JetBlue - 8%
5. United - 11%
4. Alaska - 11%
3. American - 14%
2. Delta - 17%
1. Southwest - 32%