Loyalty program guru Randy Petersen started the Freddie Awards in 1988 to give loyalty program fans the opportunity to recognize the world’s best frequent travel programs.  Awards are open to all airline and hotel loyalty programs that issue miles, points, or other credits in a frequent flyer program or frequent guest program.

The “Freddies” are named in honor of Sir Freddie Laker (1922 – 2006) an English airline entrepreneur best known for founding Laker Airways in 1966 and pioneering the “low cost / no-frills” airline business model. Queen Elizabeth II knighted Laker in 1978 in recognition for his contribution to commercial aviation and the British economy.

Members of travel loyalty programs determine Freddie Award winners through online voting.  Everyone is eligible to vote for their favorite airline, hotel and credit card travel loyalty program in one of three geographic regions: The Americas, Europe/Africa or Middle East/Asia/Oceania.

Visit this site and select your language and the region you wish to vote in. This sample ballot shows categories for voting. Vote before April 1.

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The awards ceremony this year will be held on April 21 at the World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The National World War II Museum

Freddie Awards are essentially popularity contests that reflect the level of satisfaction with loyalty programs voters belong to or have heard about.  Loyalty programs participate in the awards, but some don’t want to win. 

A few years ago, the head of Delta’s SkyMiles program said he would consider it a failure if Delta won.  Delta’s goal was not to be the best as judged by customers but to generate a high level of loyalty and revenue while costing the company as little as possible. 

When it comes to earning and rewarding loyalty, airlines like Delta think that offering more than average benefits is cause to come up with new “enhancements,” i.e., devaluations that put them back in the middle of the pack. That philosophy, however, doesn’t apply when airline executives compare their compensation to their peers at other companies.

Japan Airlines first class

My favorite airline program is American Airlines’ AAdvantage program because of (1) the ability to earn a few upgrades to business class on international flights, (2) access (even when flying in economy) to amazing first class lounges when flying Oneworld Alliance partners like Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Japan Airlines, and (3) the ability to use American miles to book first class international flights on Oneworld airlines.

Qantas First Lounge Sydney Australia (SYD)

Based on experience with Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton and IHG (Holiday Inn/Intercontinental), Hyatt’s World of Hyatt is my favorite hotel program.

Grand Hyatt Athens

Do you participate in airline and hotel loyalty programs?  If so, what are your favorites? Thanks for stopping by today.