More than two-thirds of business travelers questioned in a recent survey valued airline loyalty programs but complained that it was difficult to redeem the miles they earn.
One-third said the ability to redeem miles was the most important factor in choosing an airline, but four in five also said on-time schedules and price were also important, the American Small Business Travelers Alliance and travel Web site ExpertFlyer.com said Tuesday.
The groups surveyed 600 business travelers about changes in the airline industry and passengers' travel habits.
The difficulty of redeeming miles has long been a gripe among travelers, and lately some U.S. carriers have begun charging fees for using miles to upgrade to business- or first-class. Still, the groups said only one in every six business travelers they surveyed had more than 50,000 award points with any one airline. Nearly one-third said they don't have a preferred airline loyalty program.
Officials with the travel alliance and the Web site said that finding indicated people were redeeming some points but are increasingly drawn by low fares and less by loyalty programs.
Chris Lopinto, partner at ExpertFlyer.com, said the survey results "should put the airline industry on alert."
"The price of travel is forcing small businesses to be even smarter about how they spend their travel dollars," Lopinto said.