Southwest Airlines joins the list of airlines admitting that its frequent flyer ranks thinned faster than hoped. As the year draws to a close and the company scales back its flight schedule (citing operational challenges, but demand is also dropping), it will also offer double elite credit in the Rapid Rewards loyalty program in hopes of attracting a few extra trips from its customers.
We understand the pandemic continues to make it difficult for existing Members to earn Tier Status and enjoy benefits that come with achieving it. Loyalty has never been as important to them and to us, and we want to provide Members with a fast and easy way to reach their next level, whether it is A-List or A-List Preferred status.
– Corbitt Burns, Southwest Airlines’ Director of Rapid Rewards
The promotion requires registration (which is silly if they really want to give out the benefits) and runs for all flights until 30 November. It also applies to previously purchased trips, which is a nice win for customers.
The promotion also arrives as a double rewards points offer that ran through the summer expires. The double status points do not earn towards travel rewards.
Also limiting the value of the promotion is that it applies to A-List status but does not appear to cover qualification for the Companion Pass benefit.
As the year winds down, other airlines chose various options for addressing reduced flying among program members. Delta Air Lines took the most liberal approach, simply extending status for everyone another year.
United Airlines took a more complicated approach, with targeted promotions for members. While those offers may do a better job of inducing specific behaviors desired by the airline, they also can create confusion and disengagement from the member if they’re seen as too onerous. United also added an earnings accelerator for certain co-brand credit card spend.
American Airlines also looked to the co-brand partner with a credit card-based spend option to extend status. The company will also extend status for members earning 2000 EQDs in the program through the end of the year.
With travel demand – and particularly managed business travel – effectively gone for another year, airlines can afford to get a little creative and see what types of promotions work. And maybe it’ll actually help keep a few loyal customers in the fold.
But time is running out for things to be “normal” and 2022 will almost certainly see a significant shift in program elite status makeup.
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