Survey: Some reward programs difficult to cash in

ATLANTA – Airline reward programs sound great in theory. But, the reality is, booking flights with points isn’t as convenient as airlines make it sound.

That’s the upshot of a new study from Wisconsin-based IdeaWorks, which publishes the “ezRez Guide to Loyalty Marketing by IdeaWorks.” The publication is touted as the first dedicated to frequent flier programs.

In fact, during February and March 2010, the company conducted 6,160 booking queries on 22 frequent flier program websites for travel dates from June to October. Tempe, Ariz.-based U.S. Airways ranked last, with a 10.7 percent success rate, followed by Atlanta-based Delta Airlines, which returned a 12.9 percent rate.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, which does not serve the Atlanta market, topped with list with a 99.3 percent success rate.

“More airlines are choosing to solve reward availability issues by allowing members to redeem miles, kilometers, credits, and points for hotel accommodations, car rentals, personal services, and merchandise,” said John Swanciger, senior vice president, sales & marketing for ezRez Software. “These methods provide more opportunities for members to spend frequent flier currency.”

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