Frequent Flyer Program Problems?

Ron Dugay
Ron Dugay

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- It's been 27 years since the start of airline frequent flyer programs. And, while many travelers are flying high with rewards of flights and upgrades, others have been burned by problems with the programs.

Like millions of other travelers, Ron Dugay is getting frequent flyer miles.

"Whichever airline I can get on, I try to sign up for their program," says the Aiea resident.

And because he's at the airport a lot for business, he is rewarded.

"If I get up in points to the preferred status, it allows me to get special treatment, to get on the plane early, get better seats and I can use it for travel," said Dugay.

But not everyone checking in, has checked out airline rewards programs and like what they see.

"I don't want to be tied into any particular airline I like to just go on the computer get the best price and use that," said Makiki resident, Robert Mito.

With many airlines, your mileage totals can really take off by charging up your credit card linked to your account. And for busy business travelers, like Jen Chun, the added mileage was a big perk.

"I used to fly two to four times a week, every week for years on Aloha. And I had a lot of miles racked up," said Chun, a Pearl City resident.

Enough for 32 inter-island trips on Aloha.

But those miles disappeared when the airline went under.

"319,000 Aloha miles lost," says Chun.

American Airlines, which started the first frequent flyer program, is still going strong. But because other airlines have suddenly cut off service, Chun offers this advice to travelers who want to take advantage of free flights or perks.

"If you have a lot of miles use them now."

While some airlines partner with others companies and reward mileage can be used between them, if an airline ends operations, just like with Aloha, those frequent flyer miles may not longer be any good.