In the first-ever J.D. Power Airline Loyalty/Rewards Program Satisfaction Report, Alaska Airlines came away with the highest rating for overall customer satisfaction.
More than 3,800 members of airline loyalty programs were asked to rate airlines according to six factors: reward redemption, program terms, account management, ease of earning points or miles, perks, and customer service.
In determining the rankings, each of these factors was weighted in order of importance, with ease of reward redemption being the most important and customer service the least. On a scale of 1,000 points, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan scored 757. Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program took the second spot with 731 points, and JetBlue Airlines TrueBlue plan came in third with 707 points.
Partner program gave Alaska Airlines an edge
Though Alaska Airlines scored well across the board, their highest ratings came for ease of reward redemption. While Alaska Airlines is not a member of any of the big three airline alliances (Star Alliance, SkyTeam and oneworld), they have their own partner program which allows Mileage Plan members to redeem points with participating airlines and hotels.
Fourteen airlines, including AirFrance, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Delta, Korean Air and Qantas, offer Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members the ability to earn and redeem points. They can also earn and use points at fifteen hotel brands across the country, including Best Western, Hilton, LaQuinta, Marriott, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Wyndham Hotel Group (which includes Ramada and Days Inn chains).
“While partner programs are not unique to Alaska Airlines, the carrier’s vast partner networks allow its members to earn points through a number of airlines and hotels,” said J.D. Powers’ Rick Garlick, naming the partner program as a key strength of Alaska Airlines.
Flights, partner programs and credit cards most popular ways to earn points
When it comes to earning points or miles to use toward travel, most survey respondents said they rack up points the old-fashioned way: by flying. But 55% earn points by utilizing partner programs, and 46% use their credit cards to pump up their point balance. Renting cars (34%) and staying in hotels (32%) rounded out the most popular methods of point earning.
In choosing an airline loyalty program, people were most influenced by the airline’s website (36%), direct mail promo materials (22%), and recommendations from airline employees themselves (17%). Thirty-four percent of respondents ultimately picked their program based on frequent flyer options offered, and 21% said they were swayed either by a friend or family member or by the airline’s good reputation.
The inaugural J.D. Power Airline Loyalty/Rewards Program Satisfaction survey was conducted in March 2014.