TPG readers share the airline loyalty programs they’d miss the most

May 17, 2020

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Editor’s note: At TPG, we paused traveling to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Local and federal governments around the globe are now debating the appropriate levels of isolation and distancing. Before booking that next trip, we recommend you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions. TPG is continuing to publish deals, reviews and general travel news to inform and prepare you for that trip, whether it is next month or next year.

As the aviation industry continues to suffer from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, it’s natural to worry about your favorite airline going belly up. Some airlines have already suspended service during the pandemic, others have filed for bankruptcy and still more may not survive the unprecedented downturn in travel.

We asked TPG Lounge members to weigh in on the two frequent flyer programs they’d miss the most if they disappeared or completely changed due to the pandemic. Here are some of our favorite answers. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity).

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Sweet spots that would be sorely missed

Flying for next to free is great, but it’s even better when you spend fewer miles than other programs charge. Many TPG readers would be heartbroken to lose their favorite airline award chart sweet spots.

“I would miss Virgin Atlantic’s great ANA sweet spot and the ability to fly Delta One for way fewer miles, and Turkish for their Hawaii sweet spot.” — Daniel R.

Turkish and ANA for their Star Alliance sweet spots.” — Jo B.

Alaska Airlines for sure, and maybe American Airlines AAdvantage just because I have more miles with them than anyone else right now (although some of the Web Specials have been tempting, and changing Morocco to be in Europe zone was a nice move).” — Daniel C.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Turkish Miles and Smiles.” — Felipe D.

Aeroplan and British Airways/Iberia.” — David O.

Related: The best ways to get to Hawaii using points and miles

Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy
Many readers would miss Alaska Airlines partner sweet spots, like Cathay Pacific first class. (Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy.)

Alaska Mileage Plan. Partner awards. Ugh, I miss travel.” — Maria B.

Alaska and its partners.” — MaryAnn G. B.

The British Airways fuel surcharges suck but I would miss that the most followed by Alaska.” — Liz M.

Alaska Mileage Plan and Etihad Guest. So many unique partnerships and sweet spots on many partner airlines: Alaska with Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Fiji, Emirates, etc. Etihad with American, ANA, Oman Air, Virgin Australia, GOL, Czech Airlines and Asiana. Honorable mentions go to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.” — Matthew T.

Probably United MileagePlus and American Airlines AAdvantage because I got some excellent redemptions with them, such as Etihad’s first-class apartment, as well as lots of low-level award tickets for moderately expensive short-haul flights to visit family.” — Shana G.

Related: The 5 best domestic award chart sweet spots

Long-term loyalty matters

Another group of readers picked airline programs they’d used most frequently or had treated them well in the past. Understandably, many are worried about losing large miles balances in the event of a bankruptcy or the convenience of airlines that fly from their home airport.

American Airlines for sure and Delta. American because of my miles with them and their ease of traveling and Delta SkyMiles due to me having to pick one. — Trey M.

JetBlue — I’ve been Mosaic for years, I personally prefer their ‘elite’ benefits than those of other airlines.” — Allie C.

Alaska Airlines for sure. American Airlines better not buy them.” — Chad P.

JetBlue Mosaic – not only because they have the best domestic coach product, but also my current stash of points and credits from all of my canceled trips.” — Eric G.

I’m gonna have about 500,000 Alaska miles once my Europe trip is canceled so they’d better not devalue or go away!” — Shannon S. F.

“American and even United as they’ve always treated me well especially in difficult travel circumstances.” — Jonathan F.

Related: What to do if your flight is delayed or canceled

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
JetBlue got a thumbs up for its hard product and treatement of elites. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.)

Really love JetBlue and remained Mosaic (status earned through travel) even while living in Chicago for three years.” — Mark M.

“Since I fly them most often, Delta and Southwest. Luckily, I think those two are in the strongest financial position of any in the U.S. at the moment.” — MacKintosh B.

American Airlines, but that’s only because that’s where almost all my miles are..” — Mialisa G.

Turkish Airlines food is so good but I don’t fly them enough. Honestly I’d miss American. They have the most routes from my airport that is firve minutes away.” — Nicole S.

Delta. Since I have almost 200,000 miles with them and their miles don’t expire. And because they’re the highest-quality airline in the South.” — Brandon B. W.

380,000 United MileagePlus miles. Was supposed to be on a trip to Southeast Asia right now that ate those up, but here we are, not in Southeast Asia.” — Dominic B.

Related: The best credit cards to jumpstart elite status

A major blow if this program perk disappears

One of the most valuable loyalty program perks around was on the mind of numerous readers — losing two-for-one travel with the Southwest Companion Pass would sting.

Southwest Companion Pass. It’s allowed my wife to travel with me on business trips for years.” — Clay N.

Southwest for their Companion Pass. I would cry.” — Bao C. N.

Southwest, any loss of them or the Companion Pass would leave a huge hole in our travel needs. Pretty much everything else airline-wise can be booked from a number of angles.” — Kenny B.

Southwest operations at Honolulu (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Southwest operations at Honolulu (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.)

Southwest Companion Pass.” — Jeffrey R. 

Hands down Southwest.” — Shana R. T.

Southwest Companion Pass.” — Jeff C.

Southwest for the Companion Pass. But I don’t know how useful it will be with 80% of the flights removed.” — Devin S.

Related: The best Southwest credit cards

Featured photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.

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

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