According to a recent survey by TheStreet, the majority of Americans (63 percent) do not have a “preferred” airline. The good news is, not playing favorites can work to a shopper’s advantage.
Brand Loyalty Disappears
With airline deregulation in the 1970s (and reaching into the 1980s before its full effects were felt) there wasn’t much difference in airline ticket prices. So airlines had massive advertising campaigns to explain why Airline A was better than Airline X which brought us memorable slogans like, “Delta is Ready When You Are” and TWA’s “You’re Going to Like Us.”
Internet Shopping Changes the Game
Then along came the rise of the Internet with online shopping for travelers and suddenly, fewer seemed to care if an airline was ready when they were. What they cared about was comparing prices to see which airline had the cheapest fares. A new loyalty was born – loyalty to the bottom line.*
*But airlines aren’t dumb; today whenever one of them launches a sale, other airlines that compete on the same routes drop their prices too – so they won’t end up on page ten of a shoppers price query.
Pros of No Favorite Airline
This one’s easy. No favorite means you’re free to find the best deal possible. Sometimes it will be on the carrier you like best and sometimes it won’t because as airfare analyst Rick Seaney says, “No one airline always has the best prices all the time.” This is why you must compare fares – every time you shop – if you want the best deal possible.
Pros of Having a Favorite
This is easy, too: You can earn more miles and maybe earn your way to elite status and all those goodies which might include free checked-bags, early boarding, upgrades and more. Elite status is hard to earn if you don’t fly much, though. If you’d like more information, read the fine print about miles programs on your airline’s website or check with the savvy folks at FlyerTalk and ThePointsGuy.