America West has emerged from its proverbial smoke-filled room to announce FlightFund program changes for 2004.
The most startling: FlightFund will now split its awards between long haul (over 750 miles) and short haul (under 750 miles). The long haul awards will run 25,000 miles (the industry average, and a 5,000-mile jump over the current 20,000-mile level), while the short haul awards will actually drop in price, from 20,000 miles to just 15,000 miles. Regular America West customers will note that the most heavily traveled routes on the carrier’s network fall into the short-haul category, so the 20-percent drop in cost should be welcome news to most.
Here’s the other shoe, however — the current 50, 100, and 125-percent elite-member mileage bonuses will drop to 25, 50 and 100 for Silver, Gold and Platinum level members, respectively. And the Platinum level Reduced Top Value awards will be discontinued.
These changes have a few FlightFund members reconsidering their choices. But it’s also fair to say that for many flyers (particularly those who might otherwise choose Southwest), the keystone of the FlightFund elite program has been unlimited complimentary First Class Upgrades available on all fares. And that benefit remains unchanged.