Fewer Award Seats Available Worldwide; Airlines Ranked by Stinginess

WASHINGTON (TVR) – Airlines are getting stingier with award seats, making fewer available for passengers when they want to redeem their hard-earned miles.

A recent survey from CarTrawler found award seat availability dropped 5.4% this year compared to 2016, the first time since 2010 that availability shrank.

But three airlines showed “significant improvements” in the Reward Seat Availability Survey: Alaska Airlines, which jumped from 14th place to 7th place; Air Asia, which shot up 10 spots to 9th place; and Delta, which rose to 10th place from 16th.

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“This report shows that an increased focus on value-based rewards will give airlines a keen competitive edge in the battle for the customer,” Aileen O’Mahony, Chief Commercial Officer at CarTrawler, said in a statement.

“Airlines that personalise their loyalty offerings to the needs of their customers can enjoy increased revenues across flight and ancillary products. More importantly customer satisfaction and life time value will increase,” Aileen O’Mahony said.

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Award Seats by Airlines

Southwest Airlines scored a perfect 100% availability for award seats in the survey.

Every route on Southwest tested by the researchers had reward seats “below the domestic saver-style level of 12,500 points/miles.”

JetBlue came in second, with 94.3% of total availability.

AirBerlin, Lufthansa/SWISS/Austrian, and Air Canada all came in third at 90%.

Those three airlines dropped from the prior year.

The survey queried routes on 25 carriers.

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