Southwest Airlines best for frequent fliers; United among most improved

Southwest Airlines best for frequent fliers; United among most improved

Denver Business Journal by Mark Harden, New Media Editor

Southwest Airlines, one of Denver International Airport's    top three carriers, is rated the world's most generous airline when it comes to redeeming frequent flier miles, according to a new survey by consulting firm IdeaWorks Co.

It's the second straight year that Dallas-based Southwest (NYSE: LUV) has won the top spot in the annual report.

Twenty-three airlines worldwide were rated on how often they award free tickets in response to website inquiries on redeeming frequent-flier miles.

For its third annual Switchfly Reward Seat Availability Survey, IdeaWorks evaluated the carriers by making 6,680 web requests for a standard-mileage award for travel dates from June through October 2012 on top routes.

Southwest and Air Berlin were the only airlines that awarded free seats 100 percent of the time in IdeaWorks' survey.

The only other airlines with award rates better than 90 percent were Brazil's Gol (97.1 percent), Luftansa/Swiss/Austrian (92.1 percent), Singapore Airlines (90.7 percent) and Virgin Australia (90 percent), the report said.

United Airlines, DIA's No. 1 carrier, was tied for seventh place with an award rate of 87.1 percent. IdeaWorks said United was the second most-improved airline from its 2011 award rate, up 15.7 percentage points.

Delta Airlines was rated last for the second year in a row, with an award rate of 27.1 percent, IdeaWorks said. Also scoring low among U.S. carriers were US Airways (33.6 percent) and American Airlines    (45.7 percent).

American also saw the biggest decline from last year, down 17.2 points.

Denver-based Frontier Airlines was not included in the study.

> Click here for the full report from IdeaWorks

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