CNN reports that business travellers are now starting to “cash” in their frequent flyer miles. Choosing to use earned miles versus paying for business flights have remarkably grown these months. American Airlines alone has seen a 10-15 percent increase in redemption over 2007 on AAdvantage, its frequent flier program. Priority club members of the InterContinental Hotels Group (owners of Intercontinental hotel, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza) are seen redeeming their points in record numbers.
“We expect to see the largest ever increase in reward redemption this year.” says InsideFlyer magazine publisher Randy Petersen.
If we do not see the USA (the world’s largest travelling population) make a successful economic rebound we will see frequent flyer redemption on a steady upscale. What I am a little worried of is the “cause and effect” outcome of this. If more people redeem flights chances are airlines will have to develop stricter rules to get free seats. For the usual once or twice a year flyers, this reaction would be bad. I personally make around 2-3 trips to the USA a year, and some of those I charge to my frequent miles. So I hope we see some silverlining soon.