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Poll results: Mostly thumbs-up for Southwest's frequent-flier program changes

January 14, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Southwest Airlines passengers buckle up for a flight departing Love Field in Dallas last week.
Southwest Airlines passengers buckle up for a flight departing Love Field… (Jim Mahoney / Dallas Morning…)

Southwest Airlines has moved on (well, actually backward) from a lively discussion that began last week over changes it plans to make March 1 to its frequent-flier program. Its blog's Flashback Friday post shows upbeat "luv"-centric print ads that date back to the airline’s beginnings 40 years ago.

I'm not going that far back, but a quick recap is in order: I wrote a blog post last week that was mostly positive about the revamp of the airline's Rapid Rewards program. Some people didn't agree, so I wrote another post explaining their position. I then asked you all to weigh in.

So here are the results of my informal, unscientific, uncorroborated poll on the Los Angeles Times Travel blog as of Friday afternoon:

229 readers think the new Rapid Rewards program will be better; 153 think it will be worse; and 14 think it's a wash.

(For those who have been living in a cave for the past couple of weeks -- and I'm not saying that's a bad thing -- here's how Southwest explains the new Rapid Rewards program and also some comments that it received on its "Nuts About Southwest" blog.)

Here a sample of comments that I received as well:

--"Personally I like it. As a business traveller, you often wonder why the guy next to you is racking up free flights at the same rate as you are when your ticket is costing you 10x more" -- "emmaco"

--"Yes, Southwest is a business, and they have the right to conduct business any way they want. But people also have a choice (as the flight attendants always remind us), and with SWA's prices not being the lowest anymore, there are very few differentiators now to encourage our loyalty." -- "Dawnd470"

So there you have it,  from both sides of the airline aisle.

And one thing's for sure: Frequent fliers are careful about how they spend their airline dollars and what perks they get in return -- something that airlines should be sensitive to in this new fee-for-all era of flying.

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