News & Research

The latest from IdeaWorksCompany.

Listed below are the most recent posts to the website.  Click on any item (in blue font) to access our latest reports, press releases, and news items.  Or use the menu to the right to browse current and archived reports, articles featuring IdeaWorksCompany research, and current and archived press releases.
Sep 15

September 15, 2017

Frequent flier programs generate profits for airlines and frustration for travelers
Los Angeles Times
Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks Co., a consultant on boosting airline revenue, called frequent flier programs a “tremendous cash cow” for the airlines.  In a recent report, Sorensen estimated that the nation’s top four airlines — American, United, Delta and Southwest — generated a combined $9.5 billion in revenue last year from frequent flier programs.  “The programs have a huge impact on the bottom line for airlines,” he said. “They simply can’t do without them.”

Sep 05

September 5, 2017 – Press Release

Southwest, JetBlue Lead Average Reward Price Rankings Among Five Major US Frequent Flyer Programs
2017 CarTrawler Reward Seat Availability Survey also finds that Delta SkyMiles reward prices are 19% lower than in 2013.  Low-cost carriers Southwest and JetBlue continue to offer US flyers the lowest average reward seat pricing, despite an industry shift to dollar-based rather than mileage-based loyalty points accrual. The annual rankings for the two airlines remain unchanged since 2013 when average reward seat pricing was first calculated.

Jul 17

July 18, 2017 – Report

2016 Top 10 Airline Ancillary Revenue Rankings
Every year IdeaWorksCompany searches for disclosures of financial results which qualify as ancillary revenue for airlines all over the globe. Annual reports, investor presentations, financial press releases, and quotes attributed to senior executives all qualify as sources in the data collection process. These results are contained in the new report, 2016 Top 10 Airline Ancillary Revenue Rankings. Of the 138 airlines reviewed, 66 reveal figures related to ancillary revenue.

Jul 17

July 18, 2017 – Press Release

Top Ten Airlines Generate as Much as 46% of Sales from Ancillary Revenue
CarTrawler-sponsored analysis shows big jump from five years ago, when the same group of airlines generated 10% to 33% from ancillary revenue.  Every year IdeaWorksCompany searches for disclosures of financial results which qualify as ancillary revenue for airlines all over the globe. Annual reports, investor presentations, financial press releases, and quotes attributed to senior executives all qualify as sources in the data collection process.

Jun 12

June 12, 2017

How Much Are Frequent Flier Miles Really Worth?
New York Times
Merriam-Webster defines a mile as a unit of measurement equal to 5,280 feet. But in the increasingly byzantine world of frequent flier mileage reward programs, the term has little or no connection to physical distance. In 2015, United and Delta joined Southwest, Jet Blue and other airlines that award miles based upon ticket price and class, rather than distance traveled. American Airlines followed suit in August 2016.

May 18

May 18, 2017

Airlines Are Making It Harder to Book Frequent Flier Seats
Conde Nast Traveler
In its eighth annual Reward Seat Availability Survey, Ideaworks found that “76.6 percent of reward queries provided access to a saver-style reward seat; this dropped to 72.4 percent for 2017.” In simpler terms, it was slightly easier to find a flight using frequent flier miles last year than it is this year. The survey looked at both domestic and international frequent flier programs, and found the top airline, in terms of reward seat availability, was Southwest, with reward seats available 100 percent of the time.

May 17

May 17, 2017

The Best (and Worst) Frequent-Flier Programs for Free Seats for 2017
Wall Street Journal
An annual survey of availability of the type of frequent-flier ticket most travelers use shows a drop to 72% this year from 77% in 2016. Many foreign airlines known for superior service and seating have gotten more tightfisted with award seats. Availability on U.S. airlines actually improved, according to consulting firm IdeaWorks, and overall U.S. airlines offered better award availability than the rest of the world, even though American is among the skimpiest of all airlines.

May 16

May 17, 2017 – Press Release

Southwest is Tops in Annual Reward Rankings, But Survey Shows Fewer Reward Seats Worldwide
The 8th annual Reward Seat Availability Survey ─ now sponsored by CarTrawler ─ also finds
Alaska Airlines has best reward payback among major North American carriers.  The steady improvement in airline reward seat availability since 2010 ended with the results from this year’s CarTrawler Reward Seat Availability Survey. Last year 76.6% of reward queries provided access to a saver-style reward seat; this dropped to 72.4% for 2017. The story for US-based consumers is generally positive, while frequent flyer members elsewhere in the world are seeing moderate to significant declines in reward seat availability.
You may also download this FAQ document:
FAQ for 2017 Worldwide Reward Survey

Apr 14

April 14, 2017

Are all frequent-flier programs the same? We asked a rewards expert
Dallas Morning News
For decades, airline frequent-flier programs were based on a simple premise — the farther you flew, the more rewards you earned. But those days have largely come to an end, at least in the United States. American Airlines last year became the latest major carrier to change their frequent flier program to be based on the price of the ticket rather than the distance flown, mirroring steps taken by United, Delta and Southwest. Frequent-flier expert Jay Sorensen chronicled these changes in a recent report, comparing the different ways airlines around the world reward their most loyal customers.

Mar 20

March 21, 2017 – Report

Cash is King: Revenue Now Rules Frequent Flyer Program Accrual
This report assesses how frequent flyer programs have become very revenue aware in the distribution of miles, points, and rewards to their members. IdeaWorksCompany researched the accrual and reward methods of the world’s largest 25 airlines and their frequent flyer programs. The list has airlines from all over the globe, including alliance members, non-aligned airlines, and low cost carriers.