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Airlines are radically changing their rewards programs for 2024


It’s all about money.

Starting in the new year, most U.S.-based airlines will no longer reward passengers for the number of miles flown, but instead tie benefits to the amount frequent travelers actually spend.

Going the distance to obtain benefits – often for the smallest possible expense – has been the norm for generations.

But savvy travelers can no longer navigate lounges, fast lines and first-class cabins without showing money to profit-seeking airlines.

The start of a new era comes as Delta Airlines, which has struggled to make the transition due to furious customer pushback, finally switches from miles to dollars in 2024, with some elite loyalists earning themselves some margin of maneuver in the transition, according to reports.

Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines and a few other smaller airlines still reward travelers based on miles flown.

The days of being rewarded based on miles driven – versus dollars spent – ​​are coming to an end. Daniel Avram – stock.adobe.com

Although the move is deeply unpopular with customers, Matthew Klint, editor-in-chief of the travel blog Live and Let’s Fly, told the Wall Street Journal that recent changes to loyalty programs reflect “the emerging consensus that loyalty was better measured in dollars spent rather than dollars spent.” than the kilometers traveled.

But just like customers, not all policymakers agree with the changes.

Department of Transportation officials are meeting with U.S. airlines to review the influx of complaints they have received.

Aerial view of a narrow-body airplane departing from the airport runway.  Top-down view of an unidentified white airplane in the center of the taxiway lines.  Aviation industry.
Policymakers are looking into the situation, which has sometimes angered customers. Thiago Trévisan – stock.adobe.com

“We plan to carefully review complaints about loyalty programs and exercise our authority to investigate airlines for unfair and deceptive practices that harm travelers, as warranted,” a spokesperson for the airline said. ministry in a press release.

“DOT officials are actively meeting with U.S. airlines and gathering more information on this issue.”

The meetings come as some members of Congress have raised concerns about loyalty programs.

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