COSTA MESA, Calif.: 15 Nov. 2017 — Airline loyalty rewards program benefits that extend beyond airline services and ticket fees have a significant effect on customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power 2017 Airline Loyalty Program Satisfaction Study.SM Overall satisfaction is considerably higher among program members earning rewards in restaurants, product purchases, and car rentals than among those just earning airline flights alone.
The study measures member satisfaction with airline loyalty and rewards programs based on four factors (in order of importance): earning and redeeming rewards; program benefits; account management; and member communication. Satisfaction is measured on a 1,000-point scale.
“As loyalty programs have exploded in popularity over the past several years, airline loyalty program managers understand the critical role that ancillary benefits that fall outside the airline industry can play and they devote careful attention to partners included in their programs,” said Michael Taylor, Travel Practice Lead at J.D. Power. “Flexibility in how miles are redeemed is valued by members. After all, if you win a pie-eating contest, you may want to be rewarded with something besides another pie.”
Following are some key findings of the study:
- Frequent fliers want more than miles: Overall satisfactionincreases by 77 points whenairline loyalty members earn rewards in restaurants. Rewards for product purchases result in a satisfaction increase of 68 points and car rentals result in an increase of 69 points. Earning airline flights only adds 2 points, on average, to loyalty members’ overall satisfaction with a program.
- Favorite benefits: When it comes to reaping the rewards of membership, “lowest price guarantee” accounts for a 109-point increase in customer satisfaction and “waiving a same-day change fee” based on loyalty status adds 104 points to overall customer satisfaction.
- Status members are more satisfied than general members: The average overall satisfaction score among airline loyalty rewards members who have a status above general membership is 814. That compares with an overall satisfaction score of 744 among those with general membership. Status members are also more likely to be brand advocates, with 59% of status members classified as “promoters” vs. 49% of general members.
- Minimize problems and offer extra bonus rewards: Basics matter. Overall satisfaction is 99 points higher among customers who have not experienced any problems with their loyalty rewards programs than among those who have. Likewise, when customers are offered extra points or bonus rewards miles, satisfaction increases by 52 points.
- Explain the process and recognize preferences: Simply understanding how to redeem awards has a 52-point positive effect on overall satisfaction, yet just 52% of program members say they fully understand the redemption process. Similarly, when an airline consistently recognizes a rewards member’s stated preferences, satisfaction scores jump by 48 points. However, just 26% of program members find their airline delivering on this performance metric.
Airline Loyalty Program Rankings
JetBlue Airways TrueBlue ranks highest in overall member satisfaction with airline loyalty/rewards programs, with a score of 800. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan ranks second with a score of 796, followed by Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards at 793.
The 2017 Airline Loyalty Program Satisfaction Study measures member satisfaction with airline rewards and loyalty programs. The study is based on 3,387 responses from rewards program members and was fielded in September 2017.
To learn more about the Airline Loyalty Program Satisfaction Study, visit https://www.jdpower.com/resource/us-airline-loyaltyrewards-program-satisfaction-report.
J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics. These capabilities enable J.D. Power to help its clients drive customer satisfaction, growth and profitability. Established in 1968, J.D. Power is headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif., and has offices serving North/South America, Asia Pacific and Europe. J.D. Power is a portfolio company of XIO Group, a global alternative investments and private equity firm headquartered in London, and is led by its four founders: Athene Li, Joseph Pacini, Murphy Qiao and Carsten Geyer.
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