It’s all about the money.
Starting in the New Year, most U.S.-based airlines will no longer reward passengers for how many miles they fly — instead tying benefits to how much money frequent fliers actually spend.
Going the distance to snap up perks — often for the smallest cash outlay possible — has for generations been the norm.
But no longer can clever fliers worm their way into lounges and fast track lines and first class cabins without showing profit-chasing airlines the moolah.
The beginning of a new era comes as late-mover Delta Airlines — which has struggled to make the transition thanks to furious customer pushback— finally rolls from miles to dollars in 2024, with some elite loyalists earning themselves some wiggle room in the transition, according to reports.
Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines and a few other smaller airlines still rewarding travelers based on miles flown.
Despite the move being deeply unpopular with customers, Matthew Klint, editor of travel blog Live and Let’s Fly, told the Wall Street Journal, that the recent changes to frequent-flier programs reflect “the emerging consensus that loyalty was better measured by dollars spent rather than miles flown.”
But along with customers, policy makers are not all on board with the changes.
Officials from the Transportation Department are meeting with US airlines to review the influx of complaints they have received.
“We plan to carefully review complaints regarding loyalty programs and exercise our authority to investigate airlines for unfair and deceptive practices that hurt travelers as warranted,” a department spokesperson said in a statement.
“DOT officials are actively meeting with US airlines and gathering more information on this issue.”