2016 has been a big year for me accruing points and miles, and also a big year for the loyalty program industry in general. Here are some of the biggest events in the world of points and miles in 2016:
Long hailed as the premier hotel loyalty program and most valuable reward currency, Starwood saw a contentious bidding process for their chain that ultimately led to its purchase by Marriott. Currently you are able to link your programs and transfer your points back and forth.
American Airlines AAdvantage Program Changes Announced
AA was the last legacy carrier to convert from distance-based earnings to revenue-based. Additionally, a fourth status level will be introduced in 2017 known as Platinum Pro between Executive Platinum and Platinum.
American Airlines Devalues Award Chart
AA also made several changes to their award chart, almost all of which increased the number of miles required for a free ticket.
Chase launches the Sapphire Reserve
The Reserve is widely recognized as the greatest travel rewards card of all time, thanks to its dining and travel earning rates of three points per dollar and a straight $300 travel credit good for flights, hotels and more. And if that wasn’t enough, it came with a 100,000 point signup bonus.
American Express Announces Platinum Card Changes
A late announcement by Amex, in an effort to keep up with newer premium offerings from Citi and Chase announced changes to both personal and business version of its legendary Platinum card. The personal Platinum Card now earns an industry-leading 5x points on airfare. The Enhanced Business Platinum card now offers 50% of your redeemed points back when you use points to book airfare through the portal.
Alaska Airlines buys Virgin America
A fairly confusing bidding process led to Alaska paying a hefty premium for the highly decorated (but limited in network) Virgin America. They still haven’t announced whether or not they will fold Virgin into Alaska or if they will continue to operate it as a separate entity.
Alaska Raised Emirates Partner Awards Without Notice
Ask any point and mileage enthusiast what the most valuable redemption was and they would tell you it was booking Emirates A380 First Class Suite from JFK to Dubai using only 62,500 Alaska Airlines miles one way. Well, Alaska raised that price overnight to 90,000 just for business class. Ugh. So not cool.
So as you can see this was a monumental year in the points and miles game. Here's to hoping next year will be a great year!