Switchfly Is Making a Case for Miles-Plus-Cash Loyalty Programs

Instead of lowering the number of miles required to redeem flights, airlines can get creative with flexible loyalty redemption options to encourage traveler engagement, while still driving incremental revenue, according to Switchfly.

Airlines have decreased the total number of miles needed to book a rewards flight by 17% over the last five years, thus making loyalty miles themselves more relevant as a selling point. However, it also chomped into airlines’ narrow profit margin on fares: the average profit per passenger across the top seven airlines in the US was just shy of $18 as of 2018. US airlines have been in the black for eight straight years, but that margin is getting slimmer: 9.2% in 2018.

Switchfly, a travel-tech company that works with global travel brands such as American Airlines and Marriott Bonvoy, recently tested a miles-plus-cash based rewards program for a major airline, which lets passengers use their hard-earned miles to partially pay for travel products, while their credit card takes care of the balance. “The airline that launched the pilot program is a reliable, successful carrier with an 80-year track record of providing passengers with exceptional customer service,” said Switchfly CEO Craig Brennan. “As effective as they are, they hit a plateau, they were experiencing loyalty program growth challenges. They needed a loyalty program innovation engine… Read More