60 Seconds with Steve Mathwig, Director of Loyalty Marketing at Frontier Airlines

60 Seconds with Steve Mathwig, Director of Loyalty Marketing at Frontier Airlines

Steve Mathwig, Director of Loyalty Marketing at Frontier Airlines, recently dropped by the House of Miles and we were able to get an update on how the integration of Midwest Miles and Frontier EarlyReturns is coming along.

InsideFlyer
What were some of the surprises that came up as a result of merging the Midwest Miles and Frontier EarlyReturns programs?
Steve Mathwig
Primarily the complexity of the technology integration. We didn’t fully anticipate all of the system challenges and data migration issues. We stayed with the Midwest loyalty platform so we figured we’d be able to retain similar functionality and access. But the legacy Frontier loyalty system had a lot of other APIs and hooks that had to be rebuilt for our platform.

IF
Frontier Airlines doesn’t have a partnership with a global airline. Are there any plans to partner with a major carrier?
Mathwig
There are some ongoing talks and discussion in several areas right now. Nothing I can share at this point, but we do have an interest in providing global awards again. The combined airline is a much bigger carrier now so we think we can bring more value to a potential partner than we could when we were each smaller.

IF
Any other types of partnerships, such as hotel or car rentals, in the works?
Mathwig
We’ve had a couple of discussions but our focus right now is on nailing down the current partnerships under the combined program. Together we have over 65 brands where members can earn or redeem their miles. We’re introducing the legacy Midwest Miles partners to the Frontier EarlyReturns members and vice versa. There are some partner awards that Midwest Miles had that we haven’t fully introduced to the larger EarlyReturns base yet so we’re still working on that.

IF
Have you received much feedback from former Midwest Miles program members about the transition? What do members like better about EarlyReturns and miss about Midwest Miles?
Mathwig
They are certainly enjoying the new partnership offerings as I mentioned before as well as the expanded route map for award travel, including Alaska and several destinations in Mexico. Some of our elite members, from both programs actually, had issues with status recognition when traveling with the other carrier while we were still operating as two brands and under two different reservations systems until late last year. But the Midwest Elite members are really enjoying the Stretch seating and the complimentary LiveTV on the Frontier Airbus equipment.

IF
Midwest Miles offered a cash-and-miles award and discounted companion awards. Any chance EarlyReturns might introduce similar features?
Mathwig
We have already adopted the companion awards for 20,000 miles and it’s a feature that the legacy EarlyReturns members really like. There’s also a special 5,000-mile discounted companion ticket award exclusively for our Frontier Airlines MasterCard holders. On the cash and miles award offering, we are looking at the best way to re-introduce this award to the combined membership. At Midwest we had an ongoing 15,000 mile “Miles & Dollars” award and ran a few multi-level promotions with it. So there are several ways we could roll this back out again, including a more fluid and flexible way to combine cash and miles together.

IF
What do you think was the biggest difference between the two programs and the cultures of the two airlines?
Mathwig
There weren’t too many program differences so it was a fairly easy job to align the frequent flyer programs since we already had a partnership prior to the merger. The elite benefits and qualification requirements were the most challenging but were the first things we aligned to start the year in 2010 to ease the integration. Culturally, the two airlines were very similar with a sharp focus on treating customers as we would want to be treated ourselves. Midwest received many customer service awards over the years and I know Frontier has had a passion for taking care of their passengers and making a difference in their travel experience.

IF
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers about the EarlyReturns program?
Mathwig
We appreciate the patience that our members had through the conversion period last year, both on the operations side and the frequent flyer side. Especially our elite members as I mentioned before. We know that they’ve been through a lot with the technology issues as we converted things but I think we’re through the tunnel now and they’ll see greatly improved systems and compatibility. We thank them for sticking with us and look forward to re-focusing our efforts to provide them with a better and different experience when they fly with us.

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