As many as three out of five members of frequent flyer loyalty programmes are frequently frustrated when redeeming their miles, according to the Safe Harbor Travelers Poll (an online survey conducted by travel management services firm Safe Harbors Travel Group Inc.)
During the poll period more than 1,400 visitors to the Safe Harbors Travel Group (SHTG) web site were asked about their experiences redeeming frequent flyer programme points. Only 15% of the respondents said they received their first travel option from the airline, and only 23% said they received their second option.
Most are unhappy
"You don't have to be a mathematician to identify another source of frustration with airlines," said Jay Ellenby, president and CEO for Safe Harbors Travel Group. "It's clear that 62% of respondents' first and second choices aren't being met. When most of the frequent flyers become the frequently frustrated, the very programmes the airlines created to build and reward loyalty may well be doing the exact opposite."
Ellenby warned that "it may have become an unacceptable norm to see poor service and lack of attention to customers by airlines. We hear from our customers that many of the low-cost carriers have a much better grasp of what their passengers want than the better-known industry leaders."
According to Ellenby, if only 15% of SHTG's clients received their first choice, most would probably look for another travel management company. "I know I wouldn't continue to give business to an unresponsive organisation."
Chapter 11 uncertainties
But being dissatisfied with mileage redemption options is not the only hurdle facing today's loyal business traveller, either. With a number of airlines in financial difficulty, and some filing or re-filing for Chapter 11 protection, there is some degree of doubt in the average consumer's mind as to what might happen to their hard-earned miles. One of SHTG's clients who has some 800,000 airline miles within a single programme told Ellenby that he "doesn't know" if the miles will ever be used because of doubts created by the airline's financial problems.
Ellenby said the latest Safe Harbors Travelers Poll is a frequent flyer follow-up. "We're asking: On which of these major airlines (AirTran, American, Southwest and United) are you most successful at redeeming frequent flyer points?" said Ellenby. The results of the follow-up poll are expected soon.