Southwest Takes Top Honors in Best Airline Miles Program Survey

A recent survey of more than 1,000 members of the top five airline frequent flier programs in the U.S. shows a lot of frustration out there. In fact, some travelers in the MileCards survey found it “nearly impossible” to redeem awards miles for flights. But one airline came out on top in nearly every category.

See which miles programs are changing – and how

Southwest Tops in Overall Satisfaction

It will come as no surprise to fans of Texas-based Southwest Airlines that its Rapid Rewards miles program ranked number one in overall satisfaction. It was not quite a runaway, though; the percentage of members likely to recommend the program to others was just 62 percent but that was significantly high than the others (see the MileCards graphic below).

Best and Worst – Satisfaction Levels

This is the overall satisfaction levels with miles programs and the percentage indicates the members likely to recommend the program to others:

  1. Southwest Rapid Rewards – 62%
  2. United MileagePlus – 55%
  3. American AAdvantage – 52%
  4. Delta SkyMiles – 49%
  5. US Airways Dividend Miles – 43%

Best and Worst – Ease of Getting Flight Awards

Once again, Southwest is number one but it should also be noted that 8 percent said it was nearly impossible to get the flight they wanted via Rapid Rewards.

  1. Southwest Rapid Rewards – 64%
  2. American AAdvantage – 56%
  3. United Mileage Plus – 53%
  4. Delta SkyMiles – 48%
  5. US Airways Dividend Miles – 45%

Best and Worst – Miles Credit Card Programs

Interestingly, the most recommended credit cards are not airline-branded cards. Also note US Airways spot in the cellar (but now that its merger with American has finalized, the rewards programs will eventually merge as well).

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards – 66%
  2. American Express Membership Rewards – 66%
  3. Southwest Rapid Rewards – 64%
  4. Capital One Venture / No Hassle – 62%
  5. American AAdvantage – 56%
  6. United MileagePlus – 55%
  7. Delta SkyMiles – 54%
  8. Other – 48%
  9. US Airways Dividend Miles – 35%

Here is the graphic from the MileCards website. MileCards is an airline rewards credit card comparison site which says, “we believe earning rewards travel should be more transparent and less frustrating.” We believe that too. Now if we could just get all the airlines onboard, too.


Published: February 11, 2014