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Here's what won Airlines Week at the 2021 TPG Awards

Nov. 05, 2021
7 min read
Featured image for 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.

And remember that there's still time to contribute to our biggest-ever charity giveaway! Five lucky TPG readers will take home a million Avios each, just for donating to Comic Relief US.

Read more: Enter for a chance to win 1 million Avios by supporting a great cause

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.

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(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

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.

Read more: A first look at what it's like flying the JetBlue Mint Studio from 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.

Bottom line

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.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more