Travel bloggers love nothing more than amassing millions of frequent flyer miles while buying the cheapest fares.
There's nothing wrong with that — in fact, my side hobby is leveraging points into impressive redemptions — but the old paradigm never made much sense. Why would a company reward its most frugal customers?
We know now most major airlines have re-jiggered their programs to reward big spenders, and customers who earn points via credit cards. That has set off an arms race among major U.S. airlines, all trying to attract big spenders by improving premium seats and adding new lounges.
During a recent visit to American Airlines headquarters, I spoke with Bridget Blaise-Shamai, the carrier's vice president for loyalty, and Alice Curry, managing director for customer loyalty and insights, about how American seeks to win and retain lucrative flyers. Among the insights: American sometimes can learn a customer is likely to decamp for a competitor even before the customer leaves for another airline. It's all about data. "I often joke, even when we as an industry are a bit cash poor, we've always been rich in data," Blaise-Shamai said.
Also this week, we followed the American versus United drama at Chicago O'Hare, looked at new technology from SkyTeam, published a video interview with Bonny Simi, president of JetBlue Tech Ventures, and explained how International Airlines Group's distribution model could evolve.