In an industry where devaluation and the elimination of benefits is the current norm, AirTran Airways recently announced extended benefits for A+ Rewards members aimed at the airline’s most frequent flyers. Effective immediately, Elite members and one traveling companion will be upgraded to business class at the gate (based on availability) beginning 40 minutes prior to departure, regardless of the purchased fare class. Elite members continue to have the option to purchase or redeem miles for upgrades, but the complimentary space available upgrades from all fare classes are a new feature. Elite members will also receive priority standby for an earlier or later flight.
AirTran Elite members will have access to an exclusive telephone line and will now receive the same benefits offered to EarlyReturns Summit members when traveling on partner Frontier Airlines, including free DIRECTV, complimentary in-flight beverages and exemption from redemption and change fees when traveling on Frontier Airlines.
One bit of bad news for A+ Rewards Elite members is that the member will now be required to fly at least 12 one-way, A+ credit-earning flights during the subsequent 365 days to renew their elite status for the following year. Current Elite members have until Jan. 31, 2009, or one year from the date of attainment of Elite status, whichever is greater, to renew their Elite status. This is in-line with most elite-level programs but something new for A+ Rewards.
Furthermore, effective Feb. 1, 2009, A+ Rewards is discontinuing A+ Vouchers for flight awards. The vouchers created prior to that date will still be honored, but after that date when redeeming A+ Rewards credits for travel, you must book your award travel before your A+ credits expire. Keep in mind that A+ credits may be extended for a fee, $29 per credit plus tax, and for Elite and A+ Visa cardholders, A+ credits expire in two years.