Tags: southwest | frequent flyer | ideaworks | seat availability

Southwest Tops List of Best Airlines for Frequent-Flyer Points

Southwest Tops List of Best Airlines for Frequent-Flyer Points
A Southwest Airlines jet takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport February 21, 2013 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 12 May 2016 03:38 PM

Southwest Airlines and JetBlue are the best U.S.-based frequent-flyer programs when it comes to award seat availability, a new survey has concluded.

According to The Wall Street Journal, consulting firm IdeaWorks surveyed 25 airlines both domestic and international, and found that two seats at the lowest level of each program were available for 77 percent of the booking queries made this year. That is a 3 percent increase over 2015. 

"Overall, I think the consumer is being better served than the year before," said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks.

"This survey reflects the fact that airlines can’t afford to take their customers for granted. 21st century consumers are savvy and plugged-in," added Switchfly CEO Daniel Farrar, who worked in tandem with IdeaWorks to issue the seventh annual Switchfly Reward Seat Availability Survey

The Top 5 U.S. Airlines were:

1. Southwest (100% seat availability)
2. JetBlue (92.9%)
3. Alaska (72.9%)
4. United (72.1%)
5. Delta (68.6%)

American Airlines' AAdvantage program ranked last among U.S. airlines, with 56 percent seat availability.

"Their loyalty program needs attention," Sorensen commented.

When it comes to internationally-based airlines, the Top 5 were:

1. Airberlin (100% seat availability)
2. Virgin Australia (94.3%)
3. Lufthansa/SWISS/Austrian (92.9%)
4. Turkish (92.1%)
5. Air Canada (90.7%)

The survey concluded that frequent flyers are, on average, best served by value-oriented airlines.

Southwest definitely fits that description, as it does not offer assigned seating, enabling it to fill planes to capacity more easily, which in turn drives down prices. The lack of assigned seats also improves seat availability, helping it move to the top of the annual list.

Combined, the top six U.S. and international value-oriented airlines offered 87 percent seat availability, compared to 72 percent offered by more traditional airlines.

The survey found that seat availability also fluctuated seasonally. It was best in September and October, and worst in July.

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Southwest Airlines and JetBlue are the best U.S.-based frequent-flyer programs when it comes to award seat availability, a new survey has concluded.
southwest, frequent flyer, ideaworks, seat availability
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2016-38-12
Thursday, 12 May 2016 03:38 PM
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