Here’s what won Airlines Week at the 2021 TPG Awards
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Airlines Week at the 2021 TPG Awards is officially in the books! As we enter the final months of 2021, we took time to reflect on what has been yet another interesting year, but we also looked forward to what the future holds. With the travel industry continuing to rebound from COVID-19, airlines are looking to capitalize on this demand — but only some emerged as winners of a trophy this year.
The last several days have been busy on our site and across our social networks, as we announced winners of our readers’ and editors’ choice awards and gave away special awards to a worthy organization plus a pair of deserving airline executives. We also hosted two live events and launched some exciting opportunities for engagement on our social media platforms.
Scroll down for more of what you may have missed over this last week.
Monday, Nov. 1
We started with a bang, announcing eight of our readers’ choice award winners, covering the best airlines and best airports. These honorees were selected entirely by TPG readers who completed our ballot — which was open from Sept. 13 through Oct. 15. Our editorial team had zero input in the final list of readers’ choice winners (though we certainly had plenty to say once they were announced — more on that later).
Here are this year’s award winners:
- Best U.S. Airline Loyalty Program: American AAdvantage.
- Best U.S. Airline Elite Status: American Executive Platinum.
- Best International Airline Loyalty Program: British Airways Executive Club.
- Best Large U.S. Airport: Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).
- Best Midsized U.S. Airport: Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL).
- Best Small U.S. Airport: Palm Springs International Airport (PSP).
- Best International Airport: London Heathrow International Airport (LHR).
- Best Domestic Lounge Network: American Admirals Club.
If you’re not already following The Points Guy on social media, head over to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to join the discussion on whether your favorites made the list — or whether TPG readers got it wrong.
Tuesday, Nov. 2
On day two of Airlines Week, we handed out our first editors’ choice award of 2021: best new business-class product. While many international borders remain closed, that hasn’t stopped airlines from looking ahead and investing in their hard (and soft) products. And this year, one in particular stood above the others — JetBlue’s Mint Studio, which took to the skies on the carrier’s new flights from New York-JFK to London Heathrow and London Gatwick.
From the spacious seat to the in-flight service (including cocktails mixed at your seat), there’s a lot to love about this new product, making it a deserving recipient of this award.
Tuesday was also a busy one on our social media channels, as we looked back on the aviation industry in 2021 on both Instagram and Twitter. And be sure to check out the discussion in our TPG Lounge group on Facebook, where our members peered into their (metaphorical) crystal balls and predicted what the future of the travel industry looks like.
Wednesday, Nov. 3
Our third day brought another editors’ choice honor, this one recognizing the airline that took major steps to drive its loyalty program forward. Our award for investment in airline loyalty comes when many carriers are moving away from award charts and making fundamental changes to how travelers earn (and retain) elite status.
However, one airline’s program stood tall in this category during 2021 by heading in a positive direction: Air Canada’s Aeroplan. From adding new partners — like Etihad and Gulf Air — to becoming a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and preparing to launch a new cobranded credit card for U.S. residents, Aeroplan had a busy 2021. And as a result, it’s poised to be a leader in airline loyalty in 2022 and beyond.
Wednesday also included our first live event of the awards, when senior editor Benét Wilson joined Airlink president and CEO Steven J. Smith on Instagram Live (check out the recording right here). The pair discussed the nonprofit organization’s work in providing humanitarian aid during times of crisis. Airlink played a critical role in the early days of the pandemic, and it continues to deliver rapid-response humanitarian assistance around the world.
You can learn more about the company’s efforts at this link.
Thursday, Nov. 4
On Thursday, we launched the first of our reader stories of the awards. Throughout the themed weeks, we’ll be profiling a handful of readers who enjoyed meaningful travel experiences in 2021 — made possible by travel providers and/or loyalty programs. During Airlines Week, we told the story of two TPG readers who got fantastic service from a pair of airlines.
We also launched our first special honor of the 2021 TPG Awards — the Impact Award, which recognized Miles4Migrants, a company that played a critical role in the Afghanistan crisis. Together with TPG and Lonely Planet, Miles4Migrants raised over $30,000 and over 5.5 million miles, making it one of the organization’s most successful campaigns ever.
However, these efforts aren’t over yet. Miles4Migrants is working with Welcome.US to secure an additional 1 billion miles to help these Afghan refugees reach their new homes. You can read more about this campaign and contribute at this link.
On top of all this, Thursday saw our first Facebook Live panel discussion of the TPG Awards, as fellow members of the editorial team joined me to dive into the readers’ choice awards. Did we agree with the winners, or were others robbed of the titles they deserved? Check out the full recording of the lively discussion.
Friday, Nov. 5
We wrapped up Airlines Week with a deep dive into airline route maps, which continue to see incredible reshuffling due to the lingering effects of the pandemic. Will we continue to see exciting routes like United’s new flights from Newark (EWR) to Tenerife (TFS) in the Canary Islands? Only time will tell.
Friday also brought our second special award of 2021: the Lifetime Achievement Award. This year, we honored a pair of longtime executives who led their respective airlines through transformational moments — so congratulations to Brad Tilden from Alaska Airlines and Gary Kelly from Southwest Airlines.
We were thrilled to launch our fourth annual TPG Awards with Airlines Week. While things remained virtual for a second straight year, we had a ton of exciting announcements and engaging content as we recognized the best of the airline industry and looked forward to even brighter skies ahead.
Be sure to come back on Monday for Travel Week, as there’s a lot more to come here at the 2021 TPG Awards.
Featured image by The Points Guy.
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