Call it another sign that travel habits shifted over the past couple years. Southwest Airlines has run, in quick succession, a pair of promotions seeking to boost its Rapid Rewards loyalty program with elite status for 2023 now easier to come by. The moves come despite a general return of travel and strong revenue numbers in recent months.
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.
Gaining elite status in the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program will be a little easier in 2021. The company announced a boost for all members and adjustments to some partner qualifying activities.
We know that overall passenger numbers are, for very good reason, down massively. But airlines have relied on their loyalty programs to provide a significant, and perhaps more importantly steady, stream of revenue for the operations. So, as the airlines use those programs to collateralize billions of dollars in new financing, it is worth considering if that revenue flow is as reliable as airlines (and debt holders) hope it can be.
JetBlue waited longer than most to announce plans for its TrueBlue loyalty program in the wake of the coronavirus groundings. But it appears the carrier used that time wisely. With its announcement today JetBlue draws on similar actions from many other carriers but pulls them together in a package that might deliver outsized value to its members.