There seems to be constant stream of stories that the airlines are cutting back their capacity of free awards and that Johhny can’t get there from here. The facts seem to say otherwise.
Recently on FlyerTalk, a member of the media was looking to interview members of frequent flyer programs for a story about award redemption — perhaps the woes of them. In the first dozen or so replies, there were nothing but stories from a variety of members that they have had no problems whatsoever in claiming awards, giving rise to the concept that luck just may be one of the main ingredients of acquiring awards.
But the 2002 award redemption numbers are just beginning to come in and they look quite rewarding. For example, Continental OnePass doled out almost 1.6 million free travel and upgrade rewards in 2002 vs. just under 1.4 million in 2001. That’s a 14.7 percent increase in award redemption. From the American AAdvantage program comes information that over four million awards were claimed in 2002: 2,801,900 for PlanAAhead and AAnytime awards; 464,600 for upgrades and companion awards; 232,800 for AAdvantage Vacation and free magazine awards; 148,400 for special mileage awards and 457,500 for awards on other airline partners. Their numbers also indicate a rise in award redemption for 2002 over the prior year.
So the next time someone tries to tell you the airlines are cutting back on the number of awards they are giving out, remember that the statistics tell the true tale.