Should There Be an Award Category for Worst Program?

As you may already know, voting for the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards — sponsored by KAYAK — is currently under way through February 15, 2013.
However, FlyerTalk member Carolinian wonders why there is not an award category for the worst frequent travel loyalty program, thinking that “we should offer the airlines both the carrot and the stick in seeking to encourage them to improve, not disembowel programs. We are burying our heads in the sand if we think everything these days is positive with ff changes.”
Perhaps Carolinian has a point. There have been a spate of changes in frequent travel loyalty programs as of late which have generally been perceived as negative by FlyerTalk members, including but by no means limited to the following — all of which happened this month alone:

It seems almost as though frequent travel loyalty programs are racing with each other in who can trim the most benefits to their members with little or no notice. If this is the case, should there be an official recognition — as in awarding a frequent travel loyalty program as being the worst?
FlyerTalk member kokonutz thinks so: “I’d be down with a miles and points program version of the Razzies.
“A great idea for some motivated FTer!

  • Biggest devaluation in mile/point value
  • Biggest devaluation of elite benefits
  • Biggest elimination or reduction of awards
  • Program with most difficult to obtain awards (split into free travel/nights and upgrades!)
  • Worst overall program

“That would be fun!”
On the other hand, FlyerTalk member tkey75 notes that “Awards are to bestow kudos for good behavior. Not punish bad behavior.”
Frankly, I am not sure about this one. I have been to a number of award ceremonies for frequent travel loyalty programs — heck, I was even a part of them, organizing them, spoke at them, and personally presented awards myself to the winners after announcing them for at least two years. I have witnessed first-hand the excitement and jubilation from the official representatives of the frequent travel loyalty programs chosen to receive the award won by them. There is the acceptance of the award, the photographic opportunity, and the thank-you speech at the podium before returning to the table with their colleagues who are thrilled — as they should be…
…but is the recognition and excitement of winning an award incentive enough for a frequent travel loyalty program to prevent them from implementing changes in policies and rules considered unfriendly to their customers during the rest of the year?
I would say yes with some trepidation, arguing that awards such as the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards also bring an awareness to those who participate by voting — and I believe that awareness by the members is actually more powerful that the winning of the prize itself. I know that when I voted in the the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards a couple of days ago, I had to think about each frequent travel loyalty program for which I had to choose in each category in each region before giving my official vote.
With that thought process, would an award category for the worst frequent travel loyalty program similarly bring about an awareness amongst members of frequent travel loyalty programs — and perhaps to official representatives of frequent travel loyalty programs as well?
What do you think? Should there be an award category for the worst frequent travel loyalty program, whether it is genuine or satirical?
While you think about it, please vote for your favorite frequent travel loyalty programs in the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards if you have not already done so. You can find out additional details about the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards, including the categories and geographic regions under which the best frequent travel loyalty programs can qualify to compete and win.

3 thoughts on “Should There Be an Award Category for Worst Program?”

  1. peachfront says:

    Industry consolidation makes it inevitable that programs will become less and less valuable, since the consumer no longer has a serious choice. There is really no doubt that Delta has by far the least valuable frequent flyer program. But with so few full service airlines remaining, then I confidently expect a race to the bottom. Who cares if you are “worst” if “worst” can also be described as number 2 oe 3?

  2. DLroads says:

    IMHO, there should be a way to highlight such companies that have vastly (And sometimes, retroactively) removed contractual benefits from clients. I doubt that there would be a sponsor for such a contest, though…

  3. Carolinian says:

    It would be nice if the Flyer Talk awards listed all of the airlines in order of finish, instead of just the winner and runner up. This would also help show who is not cutting the mustard with customers.

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