It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve “turned final” on loyalty. No, it’s not dead, we’re just coming in for a landing. What happened? An interesting series of events. Some will say it’s all about competition in the airline industry, and that’s certainly a factor. There are all kinds of loyalty programs, but the average BoardingArea reader is usually here to read about airline loyalty first, followed by hotels. A few of us want to talk about cruising, but we’ll get to that in another post.

I’ll admit it, I gave up on being “loyal” in the classic mileage enthusiast sense of the word a while ago. Instead, I began to focus on the MJ Personal Happiness Fund. Price and schedule rule, but in my Atlanta based life, I typically find myself flying Delta Air Lines. I’ll admit that it’s sometimes felt like I needed to apologize to blog readers for feeling this way, but I like Delta. A “mile” has never been my first consideration when it comes to travel. If airlines eliminated frequent flyer programs tomorrow, it’s not like I would just stop flying. Given that I live in Atlanta, Delta usually provides me with the right kind of schedule for the right kind of price more than anyone else. When they don’t, I fly someone else and that’s Southwest more often than not. But as I said many moons ago, I never walked off a Delta flight and said “Wow, I can’t wait to fly someone else.”

I know it’s fun to complain about airlines. Many times, they deserve it. But it’s time to break up with traditional ideas of “loyalty.” If you live near a particular airline’s hub, by all means, you should play in their loyalty program. While elite status isn’t worth what it used to be, it’s still worth something, especially at the upper tiers. If you fly a certain airline enough to earn status, do it! Further, as I’ve noted more than once on this blog, if you can make Alaska Mileage Plan work for you, you should for as long as it lasts in its current form.

In the end, skip the old ideas of loyalty and just do what’s best for you. More often than not, that’s probably not the same thing you’ve been doing. Coming soon – why mileage earning cards still matter.

-MJ, June 16, 2016