Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rapid Rewards revamp is just one of Southwest

Rapid Rewards revamp is just one of Southwest Airlines' big changes
Reporting from Chicago — Southwest Airlines rebooted its popular Rapid Rewards program this week, and the transition to a more sophisticated frequent-flier program is much like the makeover the carrier itself faces: a necessary, risky upgrade that is certain to alienate some die-hard fans.

Passengers won't be able to check their rewards or request free trips for two days, Sunday and Monday, while the new awards program is loaded to Southwest computer systems. Travelers flying on previously booked awards tickets won't be affected by the outage, Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said.

The $100-million revamp of the program will tie travel awards to the amount that passengers spend to fly, similar to programs at JetBlue Airways and Virgin America. While critics claim the Texas-based carrier will shortchange passengers who take short trips, Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly maintained that most customers would reap greater benefits.






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