News and Research

Frequent Flyer Programs Deliver Lower Reward Value in the Era of Basic Economy Fares and Co-Branded Cards – Press Release

April 2, 2024

The 2024 Reward Seat Availability Survey reviews Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United flight rewards. The IdeaWorksCompany Reward Seat Availability Survey answers the question, “How costly is points redemption for the most popular basic reward type offered by top US airlines?” Key overall findings include:

• Prices of rewards (in miles or points) has increased significantly since 2019 and, moreover, by 7 points above the rate of inflation for the same period.
• Reward payback for 2024, which measures the reward value provided per dollar spent on base fares, dropped overall more than half from 2019.
• Basic economy fares are disrupting the value provided by frequent flyer programs through policies which reduce or eliminate mileage/points accrual

This year’s survey assesses six US airlines and repeats the same methods used 5 years ago in 2019. The IdeaWorksCompany Reward Seat Availability Survey is based upon 600 booking and fare queries made by the IdeaWorksCompany at the websites of six frequent flyer programs to assess low-priced everyday reward seat availability. Lowest-price rewards are an important benefit for most members and the primary topic of this survey.

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