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New research reveals the best airline loyalty programmes

New research reveals the best airline loyalty programmes

A recent study showed the number of 2022 air passengers increased by roughly 47 per cent compared to the previous year. This is great news for airlines, whose bottom line deteriorated during global lockdowns and pandemic restrictions.

Many are now upping the ante on their loyalty programmes to attract a wider range of clientele — even those who aren’t regular travellers — and to supply winning, timely experiences that consumers now expect.

Leading business travel management company Good Travel Management has provided some destination inspiration by ranking global airlines in order of their best customer loyalty schemes.

To accomplish this, it standardized the latest available data for each loyalty scheme in relevant categories like ‘average monthly Google searches’, ‘points expiry’, ‘lounge reviews’ and ‘minimum leg room’ to rank major airline schemes around the world out of ten.

The top ten best global airline loyalty schemes


Of the 59 loyalty schemes analysed MileagePlus with United Airlines is in first position with an overall score of 7.85/10. Despite, its recent price increases on all tickets to Europe, MileagePlus still has a plethora of ways to earn and redeem miles for the best value, of all the airlines studied. It has over 100 million members and is well-known for its lucrative travel credit card offers.

MileagePlus has the highest positive score for points expiry (10), with points on the scheme having no expiry date.

It also receives a near perfect score for the number of destinations (9.75) it flies to, which is 342. It has one of the highest scores for legroom as well, with passengers being treated to a generous 75 inches to stretch their legs during a long-haul flight (9.22).

In second position is Aeroplan with Air Canada (6.53). It regularly offers unique ways for members to earn points, with the company’s latest partnership enabling members to earn points by linking their account with their Uber/Uber Eats account in Canada.

The Aeroplan loyalty programme also recently had the best showing in its history at the 32nd annual Freddie Awards, as it was named Airline Programme of the Year, and won Best Promotion and Best Redemption Ability.

In Good Travel Management’s study, it has one of the highest global average monthly Google search volume scores of all the airlines studied (8.18), with over 368,000 monthly searches.

It also has positive scores for lounge reviews (7) and provides the same generous leg room as MileagePlus. However, it misses out on the top spot due to a low points expiry (0.25) timeframe of only 18 months, and a lower number of destination options (222 in total).

Completing the top three best programmes is Miles & Smiles with Turkish Airlines (6.23). It has the best lounge review score of the top three airlines (8.57) but loses points because of its limited points expiry of only 36 months. It has significantly less leg room than the top two airlines (6.27), of 60 inches.

The loyalty programme with the poorest rating is Free Spirit (0.73) with Spirit Airlines. This might not come as a surprise as a recent survey asked which major U.S.-based carriers Americans would avoid flying with. Spirit Airlines had the dubious honour of finishing first with 21 percent of the votes. Spirit was also voted lowest in passenger satisfaction in the 2023 American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Free Spirit receives low scores in all categories, with the poorest being 0 for the points expiry category, as they are only valid for 12 months. It also only receives a score of 1.2 out of 5 for its airline Trustpilot score and flies to just 83 destinations.

Volare (0.86) with ITA Airways and myFrontier (0.88) with Frontier Airlines complete the bottom three.

Richard Quelch, Group CMO of Good Travel Management commented on the findings:

“It is positive to see the travel industry starting to recover from the impact of the global pandemic and interesting to observe what airlines are offering to entice more members to join their loyalty schemes.

“We hope to see lots of exciting innovations and extras added to these programmes in the coming months, which will hopefully make flying even more memorable and pleasurable for travellers, whether they are on a business trip or heading off on vacation.”

You can see the full findings from the study here.