Before I get to the Freddie results, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the 21st birthday of frequent flyer programs. Last year we devoted an entire issue to the history and future of these program, but now, after having experienced one of the most tragic years imaginable, the programs have reached full maturity. And that, as we all know, is about the time you stop counting candles and birthdays. Thankfully, the programs have survived and will continue to offer miles, points, benefits and, most importantly, hope to all of us. So go ahead and blow out those candles and make a wish. For our part, we’d like to wish all of the programs a very Happy Birthday.
Now, onto the results of the 14th Annual Freddie Awards, which were held on April 25 in New York City. For those who were unable to attend this year’s ceremony, we’ve captured many of the highlights and placed them online at http://www.freddieawards.com. The winners were announced in front of some 200 plus attendees and the ceremony featured a special introduction by Sir Freddie Laker who was awarded his very own Freddie Award.
Surprises were plentiful this year as frequent travelers showed their displeasure with programs that made changes. Perennial Program of the Year Award winner Continental OnePass bowed this year to Southwest Rapid Rewards — a simple yet effective program that continues to work its magic. Though Rapid Rewards might not offer everything, it delivers on what it does offer, and Southwest’s program rarely risks offending its members by implementing changes. The Alaska Mileage Plan program followed very closely on the heels of Southwest. Alaska Airlines recently won top honors in an airline quality review and continues to make great strides with Conde Nast Traveler readers. Now it seems its frequent flyer program is getting the same attention the airline itself is getting. And, though opinion of Continental OnePass fell, the traveling public still recognized the program as one of the best, placing it a very respectable third.
In the hotel program category, Starwood Preferred Guest continued its run — winning its third straight frequent guest Program of the Year Award. But long-time favorites Hilton HHonors and Marriott Rewards scored well also, making for a close race. While Hyatt Gold Passport seems to have slid a little this last year, the Wyndham ByRequest program appears to be on the rise, and I’ve heard from many satisfied members of this benefit-based program.
And on the International side, it is indeed a pleasure to see SAS EuroBonus repeat yet again in the Program of the Year category. Starwood captured the double crown again, winning Program of the Year in both Americas and International categories for frequent guest programs.
You can see all of the results in this issue, so have fun comparing your choices to those of the rest of the frequent flyer public. Many of you seem very interested in my personal Freddie voting record. Though my ballot remains anonymous, I will say that my picks won a total of five Freddie Awards. I’m happy for those programs and am interested in the other winners — maybe I’m missing something.
This year there were over 200,000 total votes and the Freddies would not have been made possible without the help and support of MCI, MilePoint.com, SkyGuide from American Express, USATODAY.com and this magazine. This year we enjoyed the tremendous help of Six Continents Priority Club Rewards, as the event was hosted at the Holiday Inn Martinique near The Empire State Building. At the last Freddies, Steve Sickel, vice president of Six Continents Priority Club Rewards business travel programs, volunteered to host the Freddies this year and he kept his promise. A HUGE round of applause to Mr. Sickel and that program for its support of the Freddies.