“Why aren’t you loyal to one airline?”  I get this question a lot. For as much as we’ve traveled, you’d think it would make sense to stick to one airline, one hotel chain, etc., in order to max out on travel points and miles.  This may make sense to some people, but it hasn’t for us.  And here’s why:

We actually did try to be loyal.  We tried to be loyal with two airlines: Delta and Southwest.  We like both of those airlines, so we got their credit cards and tried to only book with them.  The problem with Southwest is that they are limited where they fly, and they don’t fly internationally.  (Well, they have a few places, but not many.)  The problem with Delta is that we got a lot of points in the beginning for signing up for a credit card, and we did get a free flight.  But then, the amount of miles required for another flight was way too many that oftentimes it didn’t make financial sense to stick only with them.

We go for the lowest bidder.  It doesn’t make sense to stick to one airline when prices for flights are sometimes $100 or more per ticket.  When we factor in how much extra we would end up paying for some flights just to stay loyal, we could actually accord the “free” flight we would get had we just earned the miles.  We want to pay the lowest amount for airfare, so we go with the lowest bidder.

We don’t love any airline that much.  There are some airlines we prefer over others, but we have never fallen in love with an airline.  There are pros and cons to each one.  For me, it’s like deciding to be loyal only to Mexican food, at the exclusion of Chinese food.  If I am flying alone, budget airlines are perfect.  I don’t even need to pay for a seat, because I don’t care where I sit when I’m alone.  If I fly with my spouse, I want to have seats together.  Therefore, I’d favor an airline that includes free seat assignments.  If I’m doing carry-on only, I prefer an airline that includes this for free.  It really depends on what trip I’m doing.  I don’t want to be too exclusive.

We are part-time travelers.  We don’t travel full-time, so we don’t earn as many miles as someone who travels all the time would.  Therefore, it takes us a lot longer and as I’ve said before, it doesn’t always make financial sense.

The perks of being loyal seem more like a punishment.  If you are a loyal customer to an airline and have special status, you get to be the first to get on a hot airplane and sit while everyone bumps into your elbows with their bags for about an hour.  Shouldn’t the prize be guaranteed overhead space for your carry-on, and then you get to wait in the airport and have a drink until 5 minutes before take-off?  I mean, maybe I would consider sticking to one airline, if that was the reward!

How about you?  Are you loyal to one airline?

Nina Thomas

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