The Best Airline and Hotel Loyalty Programs Are…..

I’ve been helping organize the Freddie Awards for the last few years which means I’ve gotten an up close view to the best in airline and hotel loyalty programs as they’re announced every year.  The Freddie Awards recognize the best airline and hotel loyalty programs, but their different than other awards.  These awards are determined by frequent travelers. Each of us gets one vote so it really is up to the programs to show their best so enough members vote for them.

I’ve got all the winners listed at the bottom but there are a couple of highlight items.  These are things that are most interesting to me, so might not be super intriguing to everyone:

  • American Airlines AAdvantage won less Freddie Awards this year versus the year before.  But, they won the two important ones, Best Elite Program and Program of the Year.  It’s not that Best Promotion isn’t a “good win”, but Program of the Year is the one I would value most highly.  After that, I would value Best Elite Program since that indicates your best members are enjoying the service they’re receiving.
  • Hyatt Gold Passport won 3 awards this year.  They won Best Elite Program and Program of the Year in the Middle East & Asia/Oceania region.  I think that speaks a lot to the growth Hyatt has seen overseas.  They’re a smaller program than Marriott, IHG or Hilton, but more and more of that disparity is in the US as they continue to expand overseas.  They serve their members well (Park Hyatt Tokyo was one of the best stays I’ve ever had) and these awards show that.
  • IHG won Best Promotion for their “Big Win” promotion in both Europe/Africa region and the Middle East & Asia/Oceania region.  While I didn’t participate, I thought the promotion was very imaginative.  The results show me one of two things.  Either the folks in the regions they won really like “gamification” or folks in the US are WAY too brainwashed by Marriott Rewards.
  • Suzanne Rubin took a moment on stage when they won Program of the Year.  I can’t say I remember the exact words, but her point was to semi-publicly establish that she knew they had to try harder and get better at listening to their members.  It’s certainly the first time I can recall that sort of speech at a Freddie Awards.  I like hearing Suzanne continue to say things like this.  I took some flack when I posted a few days ago that I still trusted her, but I’m still okay with my position and I’m glad Suzanne got up and said what she did.

It was a pretty awesome venue, sitting underneath an SR-71 Blackbird at the Museum of Flight while the awards were being announced.

and Hotel


It was a great night in a great venue.  The full winners are:


Airline Awards

Best Customer Service — Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards
Best Promotion — Avianca – LifeMiles
Best Elite Program — American Airlines – AAdvantage
Best Redemption Ability — Avianca – LifeMiles
Program of the Year — American Airlines – AAdvantage

Hotel Awards

Best Customer Service — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Rewards
Best Promotion — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Rewards
Best Elite Program — Hyatt – Gold Passport
Best Redemption Ability — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Rewards
Program of the Year — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Rewards

Best Affinity Credit Card — Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards Premier Card


Airline Awards

Best Customer Service — SAS – EuroBonus
Best Promotion — AIR FRANCE/KLM – Flying Blue
Best Elite Program — Lufthansa – Miles & More
Best Redemption Ability — AIR FRANCE/KLM – Flying Blue
Program of the Year — AIR FRANCE/KLM – Flying Blue

Hotel Awards

Best Customer Service — IHG – IHG Rewards Club
Best Promotion — IHG – IHG Rewards Club
Best Elite Program — Starwood – Starwood Preferred Guest
Best Redemption Ability — IHG – IHG Rewards Club
Program of the Year — IHG – IHG Rewards Club

Best Affinity Credit Card — Flying Blue American Express

Middle East & Asia/Oceania:

Airline Awards

Best Customer Service — Virgin Australia – Velocity
Best Promotion — Virgin Australia – Velocity
Best Elite Program— Virgin Australia – Velocity
Best Redemption Ability — Virgin Australia – Velocity
Program of the Year — Virgin Australia – Velocity

Hotel Awards

Best Customer Service — Starwood – Starwood Preferred Guest
Best Promotion — IHG – IHG Rewards Club
Best Elite Program — Hyatt – Gold Passport
Best Redemption Ability — Starwood – Starwood Preferred Guest
Program of the Year — Hyatt – Gold Passport

Best Affinity Credit Card — ADIB Etihad Guest Card

About the Author

My goal in life is to fill my family’s passports with stamps, creating buckets of memories along the way. You’ll find me writing about realistic ways for normal people to travel the world, whether you’re on a budget or enjoy luxury. I also enjoy taking us on the occasional detour to explore the inner workings of the travel industry.

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