Core Elements of the Frequent Flyer Program

  • Evert R. de Boer


De Boer provides an in-depth exploration of the core elements of the frequent flyer program (FFP), including the accrual of miles, redemption of awards, elite tiers, communications and promotions, and program policies. For each of the components, De Boer explains the strategies deployed, and trade-offs faced by FFP management. De Boer shows how airline loyalty strategy has changed over time, reflecting the changing economics of FFPs. Different ways to allocate seats for award redemption are evaluated, as well as the comprehensive tier recognition structures put in place by programs today. The chapter also includes a detailed review of member communications and addresses the challenge of running powerful promotions through smarter marketing. De Boer also offers an overview of existing expiry policies.


  1. Aeroplan Fact Sheet. (2017, February). Retrieved February 4, 2017, from
  2. Air France-KLM. (2016). Registration document 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2017, from
  3. Air India. (2014). Management discussion and analysis report 2013–2014. Retrieved May 30, 2017, from
  4. Alaska Airlines. (2013). Investor day transcript November 14, 2013. Retrieved February 1, 2017, from
  5. American Airlines v. Wolens (93-1286), 513 U.S. 219 (1995).Google Scholar
  6. American Airlines. (2016). 2015 form 10-K. Fort Worth, TX.Google Scholar
  7. Anderson, K. (1996). Alternative Consumer Complaint against Frequent Flyer Programs after American Airlines, Inc. v. Wolens 115 S. Ct. 817 (1995). Washington University Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law, 49, 217.Google Scholar
  8. Avianca. (2015, July 14). LifeMiles deal announcement. Retrieved May 29, 2017, from
  9. British Airways. (2015, January 28). More Avios seats on British Airways flights. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from
  10. Brown, M. (2014, August 20). United Airlines: Delivering a great loyalty customer experience. Presentation presented at Mega Event Asia Pacific, Singapore.Google Scholar
  11. Buckingham, M. (2011, November 29). Collinson Latitude: Delivering non-air redemptions cost effectively. Presentation presented at Mega Event 2011, Miami.Google Scholar
  12. Chun, S. Y., & Ovchinnikov, A. (2015). Strategic consumers, revenue management, and the design of loyalty programs. SSRN Electronic Journal.
  13. Costello, J. (2000, March 16). Pudding guy pads frequent-flier miles with another million to Latin America. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from
  14. De Bodt, N. (2013, April 25). Etihad Airways: Next Generation Innovation-taking the bold steps to make a programme stand out! Presentation presented at 2013 FFP Spring Event, McLean, VA.Google Scholar
  15. Dorotic, M., Verhoef, P., Fok, D., & Bijmolt, T. (2014). Reward redemption effects in a loyalty program when customers choose how much and when to redeem. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 31(4), 339–355. Scholar
  16. Drèze, X., & Nunes, J. (2007). The effect of loyalty program divisibility on consumer purchase behavior. Working Paper.Google Scholar
  17. Drèze, X., & Nunes, J. (2009). Feeling superior: The impact of loyalty program structure on consumers’ perceptions of status. Journal of Consumer Research, 35(6), 890–905. Scholar
  18. Dureja, M. (2005). Jet Airways: CRM in Airlines revenue management perspective. Presentation presented at the FFP Conference 2005, Madrid.Google Scholar
  19. Emirates. (2016). Emirates Skywards marks 16 years with over 16 million members. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from
  20. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from
  21. Greenhouse, L. (1995, January 19). Court Rules frequent fliers can sue over retroactive changes. New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2017, from
  22. Hofer, D. (2008). LoyLogic: Reinforcing the value of frequent flyer miles. LoyLogic white paper. Zurich.Google Scholar
  23. Hu, M., Toh, R., & Strand, S. (1988). Frequent-flier programs: Problems and pitfalls. Business Horizons, 31(4), 52–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. IATA. (2016). Annual report 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2017, from
  25. Ideaworks. (2016, May 11). Southwest and Airberlin top reward rankings but Turkish Airlines and Air China rise high. Retrieved December 11, 2016, from
  26. Kim, B.-D., Shi, M., & Srinivasan, K. (2001). Reward Programs and Tacit Collusion. Marketing Science, 20(2), 99–120. Scholar
  27. Kivetz, R. (2003). The effects of effort and intrinsic motivation on risky choice. Marketing Science, 22(4), 477–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kivetz, R., & Simonson, I. (2003). The idiosyncratic fit heuristic: Effort advantage as a determinant of consumer response to loyalty programs. Journal of Marketing Research, 40(4), 454–467. Scholar
  29. Koch, A. (2012, November 28). Lufthansa: Improving marketing returns—how Lufthansa Miles & More is using technology to improve the bottom line. Presentation presented at 8th FFP Loyalty Conference 2012, San Diego.Google Scholar
  30. Kopalle, P., Neslin, S., & Sun, B. (2009). A dynamic structural model of the impact of loyalty programs on customer behavior. AP-Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research, 8, 265–266.Google Scholar
  31. Kralev, N. (2008, September 29). Airlines curb ‘award’ tickets. The Washington Times. Retrieved June 4, 2017, from
  32. Long, M., Clark, S., Schiffman, L., & Mcmellon, C. (2003). In the air again: frequent flyer relationship programmes and business travellers’ quality of life. International Journal of Tourism Research, 5(6), 421–432. Scholar
  33. Meyer-Waarden, L. (2013). The impact of reward personalisation on frequent flyer programmes’ perceived value and loyalty. Journal of Services Marketing, 27(3), 183–194. Scholar
  34. Miles & More. (n.d.). Company portrait. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from
  35. Pauly, M. (2005, February 17). Lufthansa: Exploiting new opportunities: Miles & More as the leading frequent flyer program for Europe. Presentation presented at FFP Conference 2005, Madrid.Google Scholar
  36. Philips, D. (n.d.). The proof is in the pudding. Retrieved May 2, 2017, from
  37. Purvis, D. (2006, February 21). Cathay Pacific: Structuring your FFP to balance corporate & customer needs. Presentation presented at the FFP Conference 2006, Bangkok.Google Scholar
  38. Rumbold, H. (2013, November 12). Air New Zealand: Taking co-brands to a new level: How Air New Zealand’s prepaid cobrand card delivers. Presentation presented at Mega Event 2013, Vancouver.Google Scholar
  39. Scandinavian Airlines. (2012, April 26). Retrieved April 11, 2017, from
  40. Schaeffer, C. (2009). Lufthansa: Exploiting cross-selling opportunities with partners. Presentation presented at Loyalty 2009, Vienna.Google Scholar
  41. Sorensen, J. (2009, October 23). Solving the reward availability problem. Presentation presented at Mega Event 2009, Huntington Beach, CA.Google Scholar
  42. Sorensen, J. (2012a, April 25). Airlines woo members with wild, weird and wonderful rewards. Presentation presented at FFP Spring 2012, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  43. Sorensen, J. (2012b, November 27). Fly high or sink low: Reward programs create their reputation. Presentation presented at Mega Event 2012, San Diego, CA.Google Scholar
  44. Sorensen, J. (2013, November 13). Revealing research on which ffp rewards are more rewarding. Presentation presented at Mega Event 2013, Vancouver BC.Google Scholar
  45. Srinivasan, M. (2006, February 21). Emirates: Proven techniques for identifying fraudulent customers. Presentation presented at FFP Conference 2006, Bangkok.Google Scholar
  46. Stauss, B., Schmidt, M., & Schoeler, A. (2005). Customer frustration in loyalty programs. International Journal of Service Industry Management, 16(3), 229–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Suzuki, Y. (2003). Airline frequent flyer programs: equity and attractiveness. Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, 39(4), 289–304. Scholar
  48. United Airlines. (2017, February 23). 2016 form 10-K. Retrieved May 27, 2017, from
  49. US Office of the Secretary of Transportation. (2016). Improvements needed in DOT’s process for identifying unfair or deceptive practices in airline frequent flyer programs. Report Number: AV-2016-068.Google Scholar
  50. Verschuren, H. (2006, February 21). Air France-KLM: Fraud prevention. Presentation presented at FFP Conference 2006, Bangkok.Google Scholar
  51. Viaene, S., & Cumps, B. (2005). CRM excellence at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. AMCIS 2005 proceedings. 37. (pp. 140–150). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from
  52. Vincett, M. (2012, September 18). Avianca: LifeMiles – the new powerhouse in Latin America. Presentation presented at Loyalty Americas 2012, Chicago.Google Scholar
  53. Wagner, T., Hennig-Thurau, T., & Rudolph, T. (2009). Does customer demotion jeopardize loyalty? Journal of Marketing, 73(3), 69–85. Scholar
  54. Winship, T. (2011, March 15). The value of a frequent flyer mile revisited. Retrieved March 17, 2017, from

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evert R. de Boer
    • 1
  1. 1.FFP Investment & Advisory Pte. Ltd.SingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations