Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Which Airline Is the Best Bet for Frequent Fliers?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Which Airline Is the Best Bet for Frequent Fliers?

Article excerpt

A frequent complaint of frequent fliers is the inability to cash in their miles when or where they want to use them. If you've ever tried to take a free flight using an award ticket to Hawaii in the winter, or Europe in the summer, you know the problem.

One authority on frequent-flier programs, Inside Flyer magazine, recently took a look at how big a problem really exists, by turning to a public source that anyone can check.

Publisher Randy Petersen mined data buried in the major airlines' Form 10-K reports, which are filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He used 1994 data because it offered the most complete picture.

He found that United Airlines was the most generous carrier, allowing 1.9 million award tickets to be used in 1994. That means 9.1 percent of the 20.9 million total airplane seats United flew were given to frequent fliers.

American Airlines ranked a close second, allowing customers to use 2.2 million awards. That was 8.5 percent of all the 25.9 million American seats.

Delta and USAir tied for third, both giving up 7 percent of their seats to frequent fliers. Among the other major airlines, the percentages were Northwest, 6.5 percent; TWA, 6.3 percent; Alaska, 5 percent; Continental, 4.6 percent, and America West, 2.6 percent.

Petersen said some of his own research surprised him. Among readers of Inside Flyer, Petersen says he hears few complaints about America West's program.

But he said he hears a lot of complaints about Continental being stingy with its free seats. He didn't come to any conclusions about why.

Finding your way: Hertz Corp. has found the satellite-navigation systems it's been testing in a few of its rental cars popular enough that the company just ordered 7,500 more of the units.

Hertz said it will pay Rockwell Automotive $23 millon for the units, which will be installed in cars available by this fall in 16 cities. The first shipment of the devices was put on 500 cars for rent in Atlanta during the Olympics. …

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