August 1986 — The Phoenix Suns, the Portland Trailblazers and the Seattle Supersonics tell players that in the future the NBA club will claim all frequent flyer miles when the team travels. The players union threatens to make mileage awards a bargaining issue. Suns players refuse to autograph team photographs or make promotional appearances until the policy is scrapped.
August 1986 — American AAdvantage and TWA Frequent Flight Bonus sue frequent flyer coupon brokers, claiming that awards are being transferred to family members.
August 1990 — Alaska Airlines introduces its Most Valuable Passenger (MVP) elite level. No qualification criteria is established, as MVP status is strictly by invitation only. Among the benefits conferred to MVP members: 50 percent mileage bonus, a special customer service line and the privilege to redeem 5,000 miles for a first-class upgrade from any published fare.
August 1991 — Glenn Hollern becomes the 1 millionth member of the Sheraton Club International program. To celebrate the achievement, Sheraton awards Hollern with a week’s vacation at his choice of 10 Sheraton resorts in Hawaii, roundtrip airfare on United and an Avis rental car.
August 1993 — Margaret Richardson, Commissioner of the IRS, makes this public statement: “I can tell you we are not doing anything about frequent flyer miles, and we are not planning to, either.”
See more milestones in frequent travel history at http://www.webflyer.com/programs/timeline
And, while you’re there, submit events that you would like to see added to the timeline.