graphic
Personal Finance > Saving & Spending > Travel
TWA rewards take off
July 13, 1998: 4:18 p.m. ET

Airline's new frequent flyer program offers more unique ways to earn miles
graphic
graphic graphic
graphic
NEW YORK (biztravel.com) - Trans World Airlines has undergone several radical changes in 1998.
     In January, TWA (TWA) introduced Trans World First, the carrier's new and improved domestic first-class service. In March, it unveiled TWQ, a package of schedule improvements and amenities for business travelers based out of St. Louis International Airport.
     But in May, the airline introduced its biggest change yet -- the Aviators frequent flyer program. The new program is a significant departure from its predecessor, Frequent Flight Bonus, and it promises business travelers a whole, new world of improvements.
    
Fare bonuses

     The biggest change in the TWA program is the addition of Fare Rewards as a standard bonus. Now, all passengers who pay full-fare for their F, C or Y tickets are given one bonus Aviator mile for every U.S. dollar spent (excluding taxes, fees, and surcharges). No other major U.S. airline offers a similar fare-based mileage bonus.
     This feature could be of great benefit to business travelers who are constantly stuck paying full-fare on their last-minute reservations. The bonus can add 1,000 to 2,000 bonus miles to a trip even if it's just a quick shuttle flight on Trans World Express. If customer feedback is strong enough, it may not be surprising to see other airlines match TWA's fare bonuses (at least temporarily).
    
New elite levels

     TWA offers three new levels of elite membership in the Aviators program: Elite, Elite 1 and Platinum. The more important improvement, though, is that members now can qualify for these elite levels through dollars spent as well as through miles flown or transatlantic flights taken.
     The change is made possible by TWA's new revenue-tracking system, which keeps track of how much money passengers pay the airline.
     This change should also be welcome news to business travelers who typically fly short-haul routes but who still end up paying outrageous fares because they book at the last minute. The revenue-based qualifications should help them earn elite-level status at a rate comparable to those who fly on longer routes.


    
Level Qualification Fare Based Mileage Transatlantic Segments
Elite $5,000 20,000 4
Elite 1 $10,000 40,000 8
Platinum $20,000 100,000 20

New awards

Another innovative feature of the Aviators program is the new 15,000-mile award. Members can request a free round-trip ticket for just 15,000 miles, as long as it's for travel between cities located less than 750 miles apart, and in which TWA publishes fares.

No other major U.S. airline offers free award travel for only 15,000 miles. United Airlines tested a similar award for a limited period last year, but has not incorporated it into their inventory of standard awards.

Also, under Aviators, TWA will offer a new 40,000-mile domestic first-class award a 20,000-mile reduction from the previous award level.

Electronic upgrades

This summer, Aviators members will no longer need to rely on paper certificates to claim upgrades. TWA will begin crediting premier members' complimentary upgrades into their accounts so they can be accessed electronically with the swipe of the member's card. The start date for this feature is set for July.

Unfortunately, there is one discouraging change to TWA's frequent flyer program -- expiring miles. TWA used to allow frequent flyer miles to accumulate forever without requiring members to fly airline every now and then.

Now, under Aviators, members must fly TWA or Trans World Express at least once or earn at least 10,000 bonus miles from Aviators partners during a three-year period. If not, members will lose their miles. While this system isn't as bad as actually setting a time limit on miles, it is a sad departure from TWA's earlier no-expiration-date policy. Back to top


  RELATED STORIES

Airlines offer perks to full-fare travelers - June 8, 1998

TWA, America West tops in flier satisfaction - May 12, 1998

  RELATED SITES

TWA


Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNNmoney




graphic

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.