Here’s an interesting discussion between TICKET reader N.G. and Southwest’s Director of Rapid Rewards regarding recent changes in the AirTran A+ Rewards card.
Dear Chris: I just opened my mail and received the new rules for AirTran’s Juniper/Barclay card that is moving over to Chase.
First, they are changing the annual bonus. I used to receive two $50.00 certificates each anniversary. Now it will be 2,000 A+ reward dollars which get transferred to two A+ Reward Credits. Remember, you need eight credits to get a one way flight; so the hundred dollars is changing to one quarter of a one way flight. That stinks!
Two credits sounds good but they are not flight credits. It takes eight to fly (one way).
They still say every $8,000 charged on the card gets another credit bonus (above the one credit per $1,000 spent). But the Chase site says it will take $9,600 charged to get the AirTran credit bonus.
They are just trying to make me leave…
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I now have over 10 years of Elite status with AirTran and have only flown Delta once (Brazil) in the last five years. I never could get past Silver with Delta because I only fly short hops…
But now Southwest is the new owner and bad things are happening. Like no more business class. And a lot of standing in the cattle yard to board.
And, we still have no idea about Elite reciprocity over at Southwest…
NG (Half million Delta; quarter million AirTran; none on Southwest yet)
The TICKET contacted AirTran/Southwest with N.G.’s letter. Here’s what they said:
We’re very sorry for your disappointment in receiving the recent communication regarding your Barclays A+ Rewards Credit Card change in ownership letter. We truly value your loyalty and welcome the opportunity to respond to your concerns.
As we combine the operations of AirTran and Southwest, we want to ensure you continue to get the most value from your A+ Rewards Credit Card program. Over time, A+ Members may have fewer opportunities to use the certificates as our terminals change from AirTran to Southwest. [Full integration is expected by end of 2014.] By changing your Anniversary Bonus to 2,000 A+ Rewards Dollars, which is equal to two A+ Rewards Credits, you’ll be able to redeem them towards AirTran flights and upgrades or transfer them to your Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Member account program. Plus, the 2 A+ Rewards Credits are valid for 24 months as opposed to the certificates which were only valid for one year. We hope that this will give you more flexibility and give you opportunities to fly more on our extended network.
In regard to the information you saw on Chase’s website concerning the amount you’ll need to spend in order to receive your credits, the information you relayed in your note is information for Customers that apply for a new card, not existing Cardholders. You’ll continue to receive one A+ Rewards Credit for every 1,000 A+ Rewards Dollars you earn. The way you earn rewards will improve with the transition to Chase. While you’ll continue to earn two A+ Rewards Dollars per $1 for purchases made directly with AirTran Airways, you’ll now also earn two A+ Rewards Dollars per $1 for Southwest Airline purchases and purchases made with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partners. For all other purchases, you’ll continue to earn one A+ Rewards Dollar per $1 spent on all other purchases. The complete Program rules and regulations will be included in your welcome package along with your new card.
We know our Customers are anxiously awaiting for integration updates. If you’d like for your A+ Rewards Elite Status to be reciprocated on Southwest Airlines, we’d be happy to accommodate that request for you. [Emphasis added] Please provide us with your account information so we can take care of that or feel free to call A+ Customer Service (1-888-327-5878) directly to request through one of our A+ Customer Service Representatives. Again, we value your loyalty and would welcome the opportunity to discuss further with you.
Jonathan Clarkson, Director of Rapid Rewards, Southwest Airlines
We presented N.G. with that note, and he swung back with a final word that reflects a lot of the frustration frequent flyers are feeling with not just Southwest, but all loyalty programs.
The point they still miss is I am used to receiving $100.00 each year and the new system will give me 1/4 of a one way ticket; which is worth about $40.00 since you can only use them on cheap segments and have to double up to get the more desirable flights…
But, I guess everyone is squeezing the programs.
Hilton just made some changes that take away from the Diamond members. What are these guys thinking?
How do YOU feel about the current state of frequent travel loyalty programs? Are they taking away more than they are giving us? Please leave your comments below.