In the latest airline news, Alaska is adding a new perk for its airport lounge program members; ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines tries out a new pricing option; and major carriers’ frequent flyer programs are rated by U.S. News & World Report.
A few weeks ago, we noted that members of Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan program will get plenty of new earning opportunities after October 17. That’s when US Airways’ reservations system merges with American’s, and all US Airways flights become American Airlines flights — and thus eligible for mileage earning in AA partner Alaska’s program. But Alaska has now added another big perk: It said that effective August 15, it is expanding its partnership with American so that members of Alaska’s Board Room airport lounge program will get access to all 54 of American’s Admirals Clubs worldwide.
Since Frontier Airlines became an ultra-low-cost carrier, it has charged ancillary fees for all kinds of things — even carry-on bags. All those extra charges tend to make the airline less than a favorite among business travelers, but now Frontier is trying something new. It’s a fare add-on called The Works, and it provides several extras for a single price. The airline says the charge for The Works starts at $49 one-way, with the amount based on the route. It seems to be a temporary experiment, because it’s currently only available on roundtrip tickets bought by August 31, according to Frontier’s website. Here’s what it includes: Refundability for your ticket; no change fees (usually $99); seat selection; one carry-on bag; one checked bag; and priority boarding. The airline said purchasers of The Works can save up to 60 percent compared with buying those extras individually.
The latest evaluation of frequent flyer programs comes from U.S. News & World Report, which studied the offerings of 10 leading U.S. airlines, looking at their “earning and redemption values, benefits, network coverage and award flight availability,” among other things. The results? It ranked Alaska‘s Mileage Plan as number one; it especially liked Alaska’s many airline and hotel partners and its flexible redemption options. American’s AAdvantage came in second, followed by Southwest’s Rapid Rewards. Not counting Spirit Airlines’ program, which finished at the bottom of the pile, the lowest-ranked major plan was Delta’s SkyMiles. The magazine cited limited availability of award travel seats, stiff requirements for gaining elite status, and Delta’s much-maligned decision to get rid of award charts as it moves toward demand-based pricing.
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