Business travelers take note—frequent flier programs’ award redemption will be more costly in the near future. “Free” flights and upgrades will cost travelers more in miles and even dollars.
United Airlines has announced that it will significantly increase the amount of miles needed for award ticket redemption by February 1st. First Class award tickets redeemed for partner airlines faces the largest increase—63% to Europe and Japan and 87% for the Middle East.
Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Alaska Airlines all have announced similar changes to their award redemption programs. Many airlines have also announced changes in their frequent flier programs to begin basing points on cost versus actual miles traveled. The airlines have also significantly increased the cost of changing and even booking award travel—free is no longer “free” in many cases.
Many hotel programs are following suit. Hyatt has announced it will raise the number of points needed to book a room by 10% on January 1st. The luxury hotel chain has also stated that they will put six of their best hotels (Beaver Creek, Milan, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, and Zurich) in a new, higher point category. This trend is quickly moving to other hotel chains.
Our best advice? Use your points while they still have their maximum value. Many of our clients are combining their hotel rewards and airline upgrades with our wholesale packages to get the most bang for their buck. Don’t save those program points for a rainy day as they may get even more expensive to redeem them in the near future.