To help travelers make the most of airline and hotel rewards, U.S. News & World Report today released the 2014-15 Best Travel Rewards Programs. This year’s rankings feature information on 27 airline and hotel programs. New this year, JetBlue’s TrueBlue frequent flier plan is the No. 1 Best Airline Rewards Program. Marriott Rewards once again topped the Best Hotel Rewards category.
“Our goal is to take the guesswork out of choosing a travel rewards program,” said Miriam Weiner, lead travel editor at U.S. News. “The programs that rank at the top of our lists make it easy to earn free flights or hotel stays while offering benefits that travelers value, such as complimentary upgrades and free checked bags.”
The JetBlue TrueBlue program moved ahead of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program this year in part because JetBlue performs high in airline quality — a new addition to the methodology based on an annual Airline Quality Rating report that measures on-time arrivals, lost or mishandled baggage, involuntary denied boarding and consumer complaints. For the Best Airline Rewards Programs, U.S. News also evaluated flight volume, geographic coverage, free flight options, ease of earning a free round-trip flight and additional benefits the program offers. To be ranked by U.S. News, a program had to be tied to a U.S.-based airline.
While airline quality rating made JetBlue’s TrueBlue No.1, ease of earning free flights helped Southwest’s Rapid Rewards keep a high position on the ranking at No. 2. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan broke into the Top 3 for the first time.
2014-15 Top 3 Best Airline Rewards Programs
1. JetBlue TrueBlue
2. Southwest Rapid Rewards
3. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan MORE…
Interesting article, though I have read others criticize it.
It seems the portion of the study which analyzes the "ease of earning free round-trip flights" only takes into account the top 5 routes for that carrier and then how many total flights on those routes are available to redeem for awards. The more flights offered, the higher the number of points earned in the study. So in other words if Jet Blue offered 10 flights a day on their #1 route and Air Alaska offered only 5 flights on their #1 route, of course there would be more seats offered on JB vs. Air Alaska.
It is also weighted towards miles based programs versus revenue based such as the what Delta and United have switched to.