Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Changes ahead for Rapid Rewards

Southwest Airlines plans to unveil its retooled Rapid Rewards program late next year. While there’s no word yet on if you’ll be still able to get a free roundtrip ticket for 16 flights, the revamping of frequent flyer programs often means getting less than what you got before. Southwest is trying to make itself more attractive to highfalutin’ business travelers, so I imagine some sort of tiered awards system is inevitable.

One potential upside is that Southwest is looking into codesharing agreements with other airlines under the revised program. If you could earn credit toward international flights on Southwest, many business travelers would happily ditch American for Southwest once they cashed in their OneWorld miles.

Personally, I’d like to see a Southwest/JetBlue codeshare since most of my air travel these days involves intra-Texas hops on Southwest and Austin/Boston runs on JetBlue. I don’t think this will happen because Southwest and JetBlue are direct low-fare competitors, but with a baby on the way and a coterie of relatives in New England, I’m all about mileage maximization.

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