Deciding between four airlines

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Nov 4th, 2013, 08:12 PM
  #1
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Deciding between four airlines

I just moved away from my hometown and will be traveling back and forth a lot, I'd like to start collecting some miles consistently by choosing one airline and getting their frequent flyer credit card. I don't always need the cheapest flight, but I want the flights to go as smoothly as possible. What are your opinions between these airlines, based on delays, customer service, ticket prices, and frequent flyer program? I'm choosing between Delta Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest, Frontier, and Virgin America.
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Nov 4th, 2013, 09:22 PM
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I'll comment on Southwest which is my airline of choice whenever possible within the US. But I use it because of it's business model, not because of the FF program. I don't use it enough to accrue benefits as most of my travel is to Europe and Asia. If I was more concerned about the FF benefits I'd do it on an airline that has useful program alliances. So if you wish to accrue miles to use for flights within the US or hotels then Southwest may be a contender. If your desire for the miles is likely to take you farther afield then look into the ones with other airline partners.
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Nov 4th, 2013, 10:22 PM
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If your travel will mostly be domestic, I'd stick with southwest and jet blue. Southwest's ff program is terrific.

But if you want to use your miles to travel overseas, then you'll want one of the legacy airlines in one of the alliances.
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Nov 4th, 2013, 11:07 PM
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janisj nailed it.
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Nov 4th, 2013, 11:48 PM
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What route of routes are you flying? I can't think of a market where all those 5 airlines you mention offer non-stops. Where you connect is a big thing too.
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Nov 5th, 2013, 08:43 AM
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When comparing loyalty rewards programs, one consideration is whether there is an expiry date for using points earned. As well, some airlines in alliances will book points flights with their partners.
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Nov 5th, 2013, 09:25 AM
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Extending the expiry date for miles is as easy as buying something on a shopping site linked to the airline FF program page. I'm guessing most of the ones you're considering has such a link.
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Nov 5th, 2013, 02:19 PM
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You should also consider whether you are checking a bag. Bags go at no charge on Southwest.
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Nov 5th, 2013, 04:51 PM
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Bags go at no charge on Southwest.

from what I hear, not much longer..... Southworst is considering charging for bags.
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Nov 7th, 2013, 02:13 PM
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A little late to the party, but I'll offer my advice...

First off, I'd say ditch Virgin America and Frontier from the discussion if you are looking to find a carrier and stick with them. Both are financial basket-cases and it is simply too difficult to know whether they will be around tomorrow or what they may look like. Frontier, in particular, seems to be trying to morph into an ultra-low-cost-carrier. You don't want to fly an ultra-low-cost-carrier with any frequency. Virgin America is great, but they are in pretty bad shape.

With regards to the FF program, I disagree that Southwest has the best. Indeed, Southwest and JetBlue have switched to revenue-based models that severely limit the value of those programs. Additionally, you cannot use their miles for redemptions for long-haul flights or premium cabins, which is where you get the most "value". Both programs should be viewed as more of a rebate program than a true frequent flyer program.

That being said... I think you should assess what you value out of the FF program and just how much you are going to fly. For example, will you fly enough to reach elite status with Delta (minimum 25k miles and $2,500 in spend on flights)? If so, there are benefits to that status that are valuable on their own. If not, then not only do you not get those benefits, but you may have difficulty reaching the high mileage values needed for those long-haul premium awards.

So... short answer is that I would do the following:

- If I was going to fly over 25k miles (and meet the spend), then I would go Delta. Operationally, Delta has been kicking butt and they have transformed into what is, frankly, a darn good airline. If you have elite status with them, the experience is almost pleasant.

- If you weren't going to fly over 25k miles, I'd fly Jetblue. I think they are simply better than Southwest. In particular, the lack of assigned seats and the nonsense around that makes Southwest a non-starter for me.

The one reason to consider Southwest would be if you plan to often change your flights, since their change policy is exceptionally liberal.
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Nov 7th, 2013, 02:15 PM
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from what I hear, not much longer..... Southworst is considering charging for bags.

It was a bit more nuanced than that. The CEO said: 1) that customers seem to be more accepting of the charges, 2) that customers may even prefer it, and 3) that they would consider it in the future. He did say that it won't happen during 2014, so there is no immediate concern.
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Nov 8th, 2013, 05:24 PM
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The OP seems to be a one-and-done poster; without knowing where he/she lives/flies, it's very hard to make a suggestion.
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