Four-in-ten ‘never redeem air miles’

Forty per cent of people who collect air miles have never tried to redeem them, according to new research.

And 60 per cent complain that it takes too long to collect sufficient points to gain anything of value, said a survey by incremental revenue experts Collinson Latitude.

The potential for free flights and saving money were cited as the most popular motivations for collecting air miles.

While almost half of UK residents flew at least once last year, only 23 per cent said they collected airline loyalty points.

Seventy per cent of scheme members said that making rewards more accessible would encourage them to collect, while 60 per cent wanted to use their points for other travel services.

Sixty-two per cent said that being able to use their points to purchase goods such as electrical items or travel accessories would act as an incentive, while the ability to top up rewards with cash to buy goods was popular with 63 per cent of those who collected points.

James Berry, product director for Collinson Latitude, said: “This study doesn’t paint a particularly pretty picture of many airline loyalty programmes. While there is clearly desire among consumers to collect these points, the way in which the loyalty programmes are being managed is throwing up barriers.

“Rewards seem to be beyond reach or are simply not attractive enough. Consumers are also being frustrated when they attempt to redeem their rewards by a lack of availability of flights.

“On a positive note, consumers are throwing the airlines a lifeline by highlighting ways in which these programmes can be improved. What’s important is for airlines to listen to the messages coming from their customers and take action.”

The study of 1,005 UK residents was conducted for Collinson Latitude by independent research company Aurora in late 2012.

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Report by Graham Smith

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  • Not to mention some of the huge fees and fuel surcharges some airline charge for redeeming rewards, Delta (for European bookings) and British Airways from my personal experience

  • The problem is that Loyalty schemes are rightly designed for frequent/front end travellers, and I would hazard a guess that the majority of the respondents were probably your once or twice a year leisure travellers who strangely expect to recieve a free flight after a couple economy flights.

  • Spot on, craigwatson. That said, if you join the EC and hold a Blue card – one Business Class return to somewhere like Bangkok (maybe £1,500 to £2,000 in the BA Sale) will generate enough Avios for a return flight to a fair few European cities for which the charges, HarryMonk, will only be £30. I suspect that spending £2,000 in Tesco and translating your Clubpoints into Avios will leave you well short of what you need for a short-haul flight. Yet, how many people dilligently collect their Clubpoints every day? I think this is a classic non-survey – if you ask people if they would like better rewards for a lower input, how many will say no???

  • The biggest problem I have with redeeming miles is the lack of ‘reward’ seats available on flights. Try booking a flight with BA to Australia on miles (good luck)

    Also I don’t see why you’re charged taxes based on a fully-flexible fare, rather than giving you the option of booking a restricted flight (and hopefully save on the taxes)

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