Since 1988, the Freddie Awards have recognized popularity in travel loyalty programs and promotions. The awards honor both airline and hotel loyalty programs and are based entirely on online votes from travelers around the world. After a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic, winners of the 2021 Freddie Awards were announced last night in a ceremony in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Awards are open to all airline, hotel, or credit card loyalty programs that issue miles, points, or credits in a frequent flyer program or frequent guest program. More than 4 million votes were cast for airline and hotel programs in three regions – the Americas, Europe and Africa, the Middle East, and Asia/Oceania.
A 210 Award is given to the best scoring program that is ranked by fewer than 10% of voters. It’s meant to recognize an up and coming program delivering value to members that may not yet be on the radar of many frequent travelers.
There are some clear cut winners such as Singapore Airlines and TAP Air Portugal which swept all five airline categories in the Middle East & Asia/Oceana and Europe & Africa regions, respectively. ITC hotels and Accor also did very well in those regions.
Here are the 2022 winners:
Program of the Year — Southwest Airlines > Rapid Rewards
Best Elite Program — American Airlines > AAdvantage
Best Promotion — Avianca > LifeMiles
Best Customer Service — Southwest Airlines > Rapid Rewards
Best Redemption Ability — Air Canada > Aeroplan
210 AWARD — Air Canada > Aeroplan
Program of the Year — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy
Best Elite Program — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy
Best Promotion — Caesars Entertainment – Caesars Rewards – Earn for Next Year
Best Customer Service — Caesars Entertainment – Caesars Rewards
Best Redemption Ability — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy
210 AWARD — Hyatt Hotels – World of Hyatt
Best Loyalty Credit Card — Southwest Airlines > Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase
Middle East & Asia/Oceania
Program of the Year — Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer
Best Elite Program — Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer
Best Promotion — Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer – Earn Status Credit without Flying
Best Customer Service —Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer
Best Redemption Ability — Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer
210 AWARD — Garuda Indonesia – GarudaMiles
Program of the Year — ITC Hotels – Club ITC
Best Elite Program — ITC Hotels – Club ITC
Best Promotion — ITC Hotels – Club ITC – Reduced Requalification Requirements
Best Customer Service — Marriott Hotel – Marriott Bonvoy
Best Redemption Ability — ITC Hotels – Club ITC
210 AWARD — Shangri-La – Circle
Best Affinity Credit Card — American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card
Europe & Africa
Program of the Year — TAP Air Portugal – Miles&Go
Best Elite Program — TAP Air Portugal – Miles&Go
Best Promotion — TAP Air Portugal – Miles&Go – Black Friday
Best Customer Service — TAP Air Portugal – Miles&Go
Best Redemption Ability — TAP Air Portugal – Miles&Go
210 AWARD — Virgin Atlantic – Flying Club
Program of the Year — Accor – ALL Accor Live Limitless
Best Elite Program — Accor – ALL Accor Live Limitless
Best Promotion — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy – Better Two-gether
Best Customer Service — Accor – ALL Accor Live Limitless
Best Redemption Ability — Accor – ALL Accor Live Limitless
210 AWARD — GHA – GHA Discovery
Best Affinity Credit Card — American Express – Membership Rewards
Since there is no requirement that voters have any experience with or knowledge of any, much less all, of the programs they are eligible to vote for, Freddie Awards are essentially a “beauty contest” that identify the most popular programs.
I’m most familiar with loyalty programs based in the U.S.. Rating and comparing frequent flyer programs is hard to do because it depends on many factors including a member’s level within the program, if travel is for business or leisure, and if the member travels domestically or internationally.
For airlines in the Americas, I think the best frequent flyer program just happen to be ones that I’m belong to — American Airlines AAdvantage or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Both airlines are members of the oneworld Alliance, which has outstanding international partners such as Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Japan Airlines and Qatar. International travel benefits are what I value most.
The results for hotels in the Americas surprised me a bit. Although I’ve been credited with than 1,400 nights (about 30 credited nights per year by virtue of holding Marriott credit cards) in Marriott and Starwood properties since 1998 and have been pleased with those stays, I would say Hyatt has a better program at least for those able to reach the highest level and can reserve suites upgrades at booking if available. Marriott is much bigger than Hyatt, but Marriott has been struggling recently with hotels that use deceptive practices to charge customers more than than they should and deliver benefits that are less than what the program promises. For example, some Marriott hotels have tried various tactics to charge members for a full breakfast that should be complimentary.
Loyalty programs participate in the awards, but some view winning as a failure. A few years ago, the head of Delta’s SkyMiles program said its goal was not to be the best as judged by customers but to increase customer loyalty and revenue while costing the company as little as possible in benefits. Delta thinks a finish in the middle of the pack is sufficient to reach that goal.
Which airline and hotel loyalty program is your favorite? Please comment below. Thanks.