Top 5 Mileage Programs for Entrepreneurs
Alaska Airlines has just announced its acquisition of entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin America. At $2.6 billion, the acquisition will make Alaska Airlines the fifth-largest airlines in the U.S., after American, Delta, United and Southwest.
San Francisco is set to become a second major hub for Alaska. SFO flies an average of 50 million passengers per year and its close proximity to Silicon Valley makes it a hotspot for entrepreneurs and business travelers. Americans spend a lot of money on business travel, making mileage programs a must-have for business travelers. Total U.S. business travel spend is forecasted to increase in 2016 to a hefty $292 billion, up from $274 billion in 2013.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs can save valuable travel dollars enrolling in a mileage or frequent flyer program. Especially if traveling for business is an integral or necessary part of running your operation (pair that with a second phone line specifically for your business-related needs, on a device you already own, and you’re good to go). Additional benefits of these mileage programs include various business class upgrades, flights, hotel stays, rental cars and even restaurant awards.
Here’s a list of the top mileage programs for entrepreneurs:
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
Southwest’s Rapid Rewards is the easiest airline to redeem miles with. Award redemptions are based on the cost of ticket, which is different than other mileage programs. According to Southwest, the the cheaper the ticket, the fewer the miles you have to redeem. The best thing about Rapid Rewards is that there are no blackout dates. Business travelers need not worry about being able to redeem miles for holidays, seasons or big events. However, popular Southwest routes might be more expensive than others. Another plus is that the company is the only major airline that allows customers to fly bags for free, so business travelers don’t have to prepay for checked bags.
- American Airlines AAdvantage
American AAdvantage is the largest frequent flyer program in the world, with more than 100 million members. Members earn miles when they fly American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Oneworld Alliance and other participating airlines. American AAdvantage has more than 1,000 retail partners that also help you earn miles. Redeeming miles is relatively easy and the cost per trip is reasonable. For example, you can fly for as low as 12,500 miles (one way), but watch out for all the blackout dates. You don’t necessarily have to fly American to rack up miles, but the easiest way to earn miles is to sign up for a co-branded credit card that you can use for business or pleasure.
In 2015, Forbes named Virgin America as the best U.S. airline for business travel. Business travelers found that traveling on Virgin America did very little to disrupt their busy schedules. Most flights are equipped with live streaming and satellite Wi-Fi so you can check email, use messaging apps and browse the internet. Virgin’s Elevate frequent flyer program doesn’t have blackout dates and you can use your points with international airline partners.
An annual study of award availability showed that JetBlue Airways had ample availability on their flights. JetBlue’s TrueBlue also prices their seats as cash or points, so the higher the price the more rewards members use. The average award price for a round ticket is just over 18,000 points. Another plus to this program is that points don’t expire and you can even pool them with others. The downside — JetBlue best serves business travelers on the east coast who fly domestically. It has fewer destinations than larger airlines.
Oneworld offers a rewards program from 15 different airlines, many of which are international. It’s the best mileage program for access to destinations all over the world. Business travelers can book flights in over 900 destinations in 150 countries. Mileage plan members can enjoy priority check-in, access to lounges, preferred boarding and even fast tracking through security. Oneworld offers their benefits in a tier status, so the downside is that unless you’re traveling internationally, you might not reap the benefits of their program.
Traveling internationally? Learn how to save if you’re a Line2 user.
Originally published at blog.line2.com on April 8, 2016.