When the Freddie Awards were introduced in January 1989 in “Frequent” newsletter (the predecessor to Inside Flyer magazine), I was ecstatic that we as a publication had convinced over 1,000 travelers to take the time to tell us which programs were the “unabashed personal and entirely official best of 1988.” Oh, I remember the day I wrote that a Freddie was given to Delta Frequent Flyer for being the first program to give triple mileage.
It seems so long ago as we celebrate the 15th year of the Freddies and though many years have passed, some things haven’t changed: Marriott (then Honored Guest Program) won the first Freddie for Best Newsletter of any program, airline or hotel. And Continental/Eastern won its first Freddie for Best Frequent Flyer Program. Another winner that first year was Diners Club Club Rewards.
Sure, some frequent travelers have come and gone, as have various frequent traveler programs, but one thing has remained constant: the public knows best. It’s not me, as editor of Inside Flyer (I only matched seven of the 17 category votes this year with personal choices) that matters, it’s the consensus of over 175,000 frequent travelers. The Freddies have found a home among the public and with the most generous sponsorship of companies such as AT&T, SkyGuide from American Express, USA Today and MilePoint.com, I’m thrilled to have the honor of announcing this year’s winners.
It was an unusual year, especially among airline programs. No sooner did Southwest Rapid Rewards get comfortable with its well deserved gains over the past few years when Alaska Mileage Plan introduces itself. Among hotels, Starwood Preferred Guest continues to rack up the Freddies. No hotel has won a share of the Freddies as consistently as SPG has in the last three years.
For international frequent flyer programs, there seems to be a huge change. Skywards and Flying Dutchman are having their day in the sun. These two frequent flyer programs, along with Rapid Rewards have captured unofficial honors of garnering more positive comments per ballot than all other programs combined. But there was a surprise winner further south in the Americas. AeroMexico won its first Freddie a few years back and now seems intent upon winning a whole bunch more. And finally, the little program that could, Diners Club Club Rewards claims its sixth Freddie in a row in the Best Affinity Credit Card category.
So please, go to http://www.freddieawards.com and click on the Winner’s Circle link to find out all the winners and to see how close some of the voting was. And look beyond the results to read selected comments from those who voted — perhaps you’ll even see one of your own comments.