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RWA380
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Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:18 am

I always wondered what carrier first invented and initiated the frequent flier program. What were the restrictions then vs now? When did airlines start offering miles for flights on other carriers? Was it after the airlines started alliances or were there previous individual agreements between carriers?
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OzarkD9S
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:20 am

American Airlines. I believe it was in 1981 though I may be off on the date.

AA's main competitors responded quickly, initiating their own programs within weeks/months.
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gizmonc
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:22 am

The first modern frequent flyer program was created at Texas International Airlines in 1979.American Airlines' program was a modification of a never-realized concept from 1979 that would have given special fares to frequent customers. It was quickly followed later that year by programs from United (Mileage Plus) and Delta (SkyMiles), and in 1982 from British Airways.

As of January 2005, a total of 14 trillion frequent-flyer miles had been accumulated by people worldwide, which corresponds to a total value of 700 billion US dollars

As for differences I will let all the armchair CEO's explain that.
 
AeroWesty
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:35 am

Quoting gizmonc (Reply 2):
The first modern frequent flyer program was created at Texas International Airlines in 1979

Never heard of that one. I had always thought that the Travel Pass program from Western circa 1980 was first.

A lot of FF historical data here: http://www.insideflyer.com/articles/o2.php?key=89
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Bobloblaw
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:19 pm

Quoting gizmonc (Reply 2):
It was quickly followed later that year by programs from United (Mileage Plus) and Delta (SkyMiles), and in 1982 from British Airways.

No it wasnt. Maybe TI had some type of loyalty program, but Mileage Plus and Skymiles didnt exist in 1979. AAdvantage was the first widescale program which other carrier followed. That was 1981.

The thing that FFP's allowed was the eventual creation of RM systems. Airlines began collecting booking data on their best customers which would allow them to predict demand. Airlines had no demand databases until FFPs came along
 
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:25 pm

And only a few years after these FFP were established the airline CEO's started to fear that all the FF's would show up at once demanding tickets so restrictions were added to prevent this from happening.
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gizmonc
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:39 pm

Here is the link from which I cut and pasted the info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequent-flyer_program

Frequent-flyer program
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see frequent flyer (disambiguation).

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2012)
A frequent flyer program (FFP) is a loyalty program offered by many airlines. Typically, airline customers enrolled in the program accumulate frequent flyer miles (kilometers, points, segments) corresponding to the distance flown on that airline or its partners. There are other ways to accumulate miles. In recent years, more miles were awarded for using co-branded credit and debit cards than for air travel. Acquired miles can be redeemed for free air travel; for other goods or services; or for increased benefits, such as travel class upgrades, airport lounge access or priority bookings.

History

The first modern frequent flyer program was created at Texas International Airlines in 1979.[1] American Airlines' program was a modification of a never-realized concept from 1979 that would have given special fares to frequent customers. It was quickly followed later that year by programs from United (Mileage Plus) and Delta (SkyMiles), and in 1982 from British Airways (Executive Club).[2]
Since then, frequent-flyer programs have grown enormously. As of January 2005, a total of 14 trillion frequent-flyer miles had been accumulated by people worldwide, which corresponds to a total value of 700 billion US dollars.[3]
 
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:15 pm

Quoting bobloblaw (Reply 4):
No it wasnt. Maybe TI had some type of loyalty program, but Mileage Plus and Skymiles didnt exist in 1979. AAdvantage was the first widescale program which other carrier followed. That was 1981.

You're reading it wrong. TI had one first in 1979. AA created AAdvantage in 1981 and UA followed less than a week later. DL's FFP came shortly after UA's. BA followed up in 1982.
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FURUREFA
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:42 pm

Quoting gizmonc (Reply 6):
Delta (SkyMiles),

And it was named "Delta Frequent Flyer", not SkyMiles, right?
 
gizmonc
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:15 am

Here is another reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_International_Airlines

The first modern frequent flyer program was created at Texas International Airlines in 1979.[4] Lacking the computer resources of its larger competitors, Texas International was overtaken by American's introduction of AAdvantage in May, 1981.

In my first reference I googled frequent flyer program and google responded with the wikipedia info.

The I googled Texas International Airlines
 
gizmonc
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:16 am

SkyMiles is the loyalty program of Delta Air Lines that offers rewards to passengers travelling on certain types of tickets. Created in 1981[1] as the "Delta Air Lines Frequent Flyer Program"; its name was changed to SkyMiles in 1995. When the frequent flyer program was first established in 1981, new members were awarded an enrollment bonus of 10,000 miles.
 
ckfred
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:24 am

Back in the 60s and 70s, if you flew 100,000 miles, United would send you a plaque, as well as plastic baggage tags saying that you were a "100,000 miler". Then, with every additional 100,000 miles, United would send you another insert to put on the plaque.

I remember my father getting his plaque, and he had his 100,000 miler bag tags on his suitcases for years.

Bob Crandall thought that people should get something more than just a plaque and plastic baggage tags for regularly flying with one carrier. He thought free trips and upgrades to first would be a better way of showing appreciation for loyalty.

So, the AAdvantage program was created.

I don't remember where I read this, but Crandall was definitely trying to outdo United.
 
spartanmjf
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:27 am

There is some good conversation on AAdvantage in "Hard Landing" by Thomas Petzinger. Don't forget the "Admiral's Club" at AA, a recognition program before AAdvantage.....
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RIXrat
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:19 am

I have that United 100,000-mile club plaque hanging in my office. Actually, it is very nice with a United plane shown in relief and plus my name. However, it does not help me now to get upgrades, since I rarely fly UA anymore. The plaque, just like an elk hunting trophy, just sits there and I have to dust it once in a while.
 
Bobloblaw
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sun Jun 10, 2012 8:41 am

Prior to 1978, the CAB would not have allowed any loyalty program that resulted in free or reduce fare flights. I read the CAB even frowned on United's plaque they gave to loyal flyers.
 
planeguy727
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:35 am

Quoting FURUREFA (Reply 8):

Correct. I still have my original DL FF card.
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ltbewr
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:41 pm

Once AA created its FF program, other airlines quickly created their programs. Don't forget that in the early 80's there was far more competition in numbers of airlines with many LCC's in the early days of de-regulation so airlines needed ways to get people, especially business/work fliers, to use them even at a higher price. It was a way to directly reward passengers in their choice of airline than their employers as well as offer a bonus to people that was tax free. By that time too, computers and programs had become much better collecting information needed to run the programs and allow for redemption of seats.

It will be interesting to see the future of FF programs. I suspect their days are numbered for a variety of reasons that I will present in another topic.
 
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RWA380
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:19 am

My AAdvantage gold status in the past, has helped me get upgraded even when flying on free Intl J passes, they used to also allow me to use free T class domestic coach tickets, and then use a domestic upgrade certificate at the airport all the time.
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American 767
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:16 pm

Yes indeed, American Airlines was the first major airline to come out with the Frequent Flyer program idea. It started in 1981, it was the time when reservations were done through EAASY SAABRE. Internet did not exist. I remember when they celebrated the 20th anniversary in 2001. The very first passenger to sign up would have the AAdvantage nmb 001, the second one 002 and so on. An AAdvantage number at American is always made with 7 characters, either 7 digits or a combination of digits and letters. If it consists of only digits, it means you are among the first 9999999 passengers to sign up for the AAdvantage program. The 10th million passenger to sign up would then get a combination of letters and numbers.

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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:51 pm

I got into Eastern FF 1981, so that airline FF programme should have been one of the earliest.
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airzim
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RE: Who Came Up With The Frequent Flier Program?

Mon Jun 11, 2012 6:01 pm

Quoting bobloblaw (Reply 4):
The thing that FFP's allowed was the eventual creation of RM systems. Airlines began collecting booking data on their best customers which would allow them to predict demand. Airlines had no demand databases until FFPs came along

RM systems were driven off stratified pricing of fares and overbooking, not FFP programs.

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