Living up to its legacy, Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) Rapid Rewards was honored with first place awards for Best Customer Service, Best Bonus Promotion, and Best Award Redemption at InsideFlyer magazine`s 15th annual Freddie Awards ceremony last week in Colorado Springs.
“These three awards really define what Rapid Rewards is all about,” said Debra Benton, Southwest`s director of loyalty and partnership marketing. “We strive to offer our members outstanding bonus promotions so they can earn free trips—and then give them the flexibility to use those free trips—all while providing them with the best Customer Service in the industry.”
Each year, InsideFlyer magazine invites members of all frequent traveler programs to vote for the programs they feel deliver the best combination of benefits, awards, and returns on loyalty from the traveler`s point of view. Winners are determined not only by how many votes a program receives but by the overall merits of each program as reflected in “value voting,” in which voters rate their favorite programs on a scale of one to ten.
Southwest also was honored with second place awards in the categories for Program of the Year and Best Web Site, and it received a third place ranking for Best Newsletter. The airline has won several Freddie Awards from InsideFlyer over the years and has been given high marks for many program elements. “History has told us that our members love the benefits of Rapid Rewards,” Benton said. “For that reason, Southwest has made no changes to the program or the awards, such as adding fees or limiting seats. Rapid Rewards is still the simple, yet lucrative program our members rave about.”
More than 175,000 frequent flyers submitted ballots to Freddie Awards organizers, casting votes for programs worldwide.
Southwest`s Rapid Rewards program lets frequent flyers stop counting miles and start taking trips. “Simplicity is the key to our program,” said Benton. “It`s easy to earn trips, and it`s even easier to redeem them. It`s a program members can actually use, not just dream about.”
Members earn credits by flying or doing business with the program`s preferred partners. A roundtrip equals two credits (one-way ticket equals one). Members must fly eight roundtrips or earn 16 credits in a 12-month period to receive an award ticket. Once the award ticket is earned (by flying, buying, staying, driving, surfing the Internet, or talking on the phone), Southwest automatically sends it to the Customer-free travel fast with no hassle. Plus, Southwest allows the member to transfer the award ticket to anyone.
Rapid Rewards also offers a bonus (which won Best Bonus Promotion for the 4th consecutive year) when members book online at the airline`s web site, www.southwest.com , and travel by Dec. 31, 2003. That means travelers can earn a free ticket in as few as four roundtrip flights purchased online. At the elite level, Southwest offers members who fly 50 roundtrips (or earn 100 credits) within 12 months a Companion Pass, which allows a member to designate a traveler to fly with them free of charge for 12 months. Again, with the bonus for booking online, it would take only 25 roundtrips.
Southwest is the nation`s fourth largest carrier in terms of Customers boarded. The airline currently operations nearly 2,800 daily flights to 59 airports in 58 cities in 30 states. Southwest employs more than 35,000 people nationwide.