Airline Frequent Flier Programs Alaska Airlines American Airlines Delta Airlines Frontier Airlines JetBlue Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Spirit Airlines United Airlines United Mileage Plus US Airways Dividend Miles Merged with American AAdvantage)

Consumer Reports rates 9 frequent flyer programs for domestic award travel

Consumer Reports rates 9 frequent flyer programs for domestic award travel and offers some interesting data points for loyalty members. The article appeared in the November 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

Consumer Reports insights

Spirit and US Airways charge the most miles and charge the highest booking fees for last minute travel.

Alaska Airlines had the best miles deals, Followed by JetBlue, American and Delta.

Delta, Southwest and US Airways had the most available seats.

JetBlue, Southwest and US Airways charged far more miles for last minute bookings than bookings three months out.

United had the best deals for last minute travel, with some award seats costing less than three months out. But, you get hit with last minute award ticket fees.

Delta was most consistent in the number of miles needed for award travel, however, that number at 32,500 was 30% more miles than many other airlines charge for a domestic round trip award ticket.

What does this mean for you as the frequent flyer program member trying to redeem miles for an award seat?

Probably not much.

What is most interesting to me about the Consumer Reports survey are the data tables for routes checked in their award ticket searches:

  • From Chicago to New York and back
  • From Los Angeles to San Francisco and back
  • From Los Angeles to New York to and back
  • From Chicago to Los Angeles and back
  • From Atlanta to New York and back

Their tables show the miles needed and booking fee for award tickets on these five routes for the nine frequent flier programs. The round trip check was for a Friday departure and Sunday return when booking 3 days in advance, one month in advance and three months in advance.

Frequent Flyer Programs surveyed include:

  1. Alaska
  2. American
  3. Delta
  4. Frontier
  5. JetBlue
  6. Southwest
  7. Spirit
  8. United
  9. US Airways

The article appeared in the November 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine. You can see the Consumer Reports frequent flyer award tables here.


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

1 Comment

  • Max M October 4, 2014

    Consumer Reports made an error for the 3 day advance redemption option on AA for LAX-SFO-LAX. They show the booking fee of only $11.20 which is correct if you’re not elite. However, I’m pretty sure they were taking the story from the viewpoint of someone with no status on any airline. Someone with no status on AA would have to pay an award expedite fee of $75 for flights booked within 21 days of departure. Thus the cost should have been $86.20 for the general public booking LAX-SFO-LAX on AA only 3 days in advance.

    Unlike BoardingArea, Consumer Reports doesn’t allow for comments on their website. If they did, I would have been sure to correct them on their error. 😉

Comments are closed.