By Ken Walker
Airlines have been consolidating for decades. Smart small businesses make sure they retain travel rewards earned with consolidating airlines.
Many travelers fail to maintain and claim their rewards, thinking they have been lost due to a merger of airlines. While the threshold might change for when travelers are able to redeem benefits and tickets based on points, it is not the case that rewards are lost.
Using rewards is one of the best ways that small businesses can save money. A business trip paid for with rewards saves cash that can be used to fund growth and pay other expenses. Managers and employees can save their business real money by knowing how to retain rewards when airlines merge.
To highlight how small businesses can keep track of their rewards when airlines consolidate, consider the example of the Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines merger that was completed in January 2010.
Small businesses and travel managers can learn from how the Delta merger with Northwest applies to subsequent airline consolidations, and how they should work to ensure travel rewards are carried over.
Transferring rewards wasn't an automatic process for people who had standing NWA accounts. Travelers with WorldPerks rewards had to initiate the process of merging NWA miles and status into the Delta rewards program.
Here was the process for transferring rewards:
1. Identify or create an active Delta rewards frequent flier account.
2. Using Delta account credentials, log in to the Delta website.
3. Scroll over “Manage Account” and select “Link WorldPerks Accounts."
4. Enter a valid WorldPerks account and PIN number.
5. Here, the number of WorldPerks miles earned from NWA was displayed. Members then were allowed to enter the total amount of miles they wished to transfer to the Delta rewards program.
Once this request was made, Delta sent out an email saying, “We are pleased to share with you that the WorldPerks® program has fully transitioned into the SkyMiles program. And this e-mail confirms your request to merge the following SkyMiles and WorldPerks accounts!” Northwest Airlines frequent flier cards were replaced with Delta cards as well.
This process is emblematic of what customers of merging airlines might have to do in order to transfer rewards. Of course, each airline might have a different process. Typically, merging airlines will notify customers of impending changes to their account, as well as options to merge travel rewards. This notification might come via regular mail or email.
Businesses can search the airline's website as well to find out how the merger will impact the mileage and rewards they have earned. Determine the transfer process merging airlines use so that your business can take full advantage.