In the airline industry, gaining and keeping loyal customers is just as important as any business. To create that loyal customer base, most airlines have a frequent flyer program. Even though Texas International Airlines began the first program in 1979, American Airlines jumped on the idea in 1981 and took off with it. Later that same year, United Airlines and Delta both began implementing their own frequent flyer programs. The earliest programs started out with passengers earning one mile for their account for every mile they actually flew. Now, each airline has set up unique parameters within their rewards programs. Whether people earn their points for flying certain distances, staying at designated hotels, renting cars, utilizing their particular credit cards, or taking qualified cruises, the opportunity for boosting frequent flyer points are almost endless. Furthermore, most airlines have different levels within their programs. To earn this elite status, the customer needs to gain a certain number of mileage points. The benefits of earning these higher levels include ticket upgrades to business or first class seating, waived baggage charges, and priority boarding privileges.
American Airlines has the American AAdvantage program. One feature of their plan is the ability to earn an additional 25% bonus points for purchasing a business class ticket, or 50% more bonus points for a first class ticket. Delta's program, SkyMiles, allows someone to pay for a ticket with bonus points and money. They also have a SkyMiles Marketplace, Auction, and Magazines for Miles where the customer can redeem points for products. United Airlines' frequent flyer program is called United Plus. Due to the merger with Continental Airlines, points can be earned from flying with United or Continental. Voted as the best frequent flyer program for six years in a row by Global Traveler, United Plus allows their customers to earn points from their trips or from purchasing products from over 100 different partners.
The flying public benefits greatly from all the different frequent flyer programs. From earning free airline tickets to redeeming points for products, customers are rewarded for their continued loyalty to a particular airline.