Southwest, Marriott top 2019 Freddie Awards

Southwest Airlines' frequent flier program and Marriott Hotels' Bonvoy loyalty program have been accorded the honor of being named Loyalty Programs of the Year in the 2019 Freddie Awards.

The winners were announced at a ceremony at American Airlines' (NASDAQ:AAL) C.R. Smith Museum near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) the evening of April 25.

Southwest's (NYSE:LUV) Rapid Rewards programs was accorded the honor of being named Airline Program of the Year by an airline serving the Americas region while the recently rebranded Marriott Bonvoy (NYSE:MAR)  program was named best frequent guest program in the same region by frequent travelers who cast ballots in the annual competition.

As in 2018 and 2017, travelers also voted Southwest Airlines' Rapid Rewards credit card Best Loyalty Credit Card.

Recipients of the 29th annual Freddie Awards were decided upon by more than four million travelers worldwide who voted for their favorite airline and hotel loyalty programs from among 223 different programs spanning five separate categories including Program of the Year, Best Promotion, Best Redemption Ability, Best Customer Service and Best Elite Level.

A sixth category, Best Loyalty/Affinity Credit Card, covers both airlines and hotels.

Introduced in 2018 was the "210" category, which recognized the "Strongest programs off the radar of voters." Programs that received more than two percent but less than 10 percent of the vote were accorded the 210 honor.

In the AMERICAS category, the categories were each dominated by a single player. The winners were:

Airline Category

Program of the Year — Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards 
Best Elite LevelAmerican Airlines – AAdvantage 
Best Promotion — Avianca – LifeMiles
Best Customer Service — Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards 
Best Redemption Ability — Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards
210 Award - Air Canada Aeroplan

Hotel Category

Program of the Year — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy
Best Elite Level — Hyatt – World of Hyatt
Best Promotion — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy
Best Customer ServiceCaesars Entertainment – Caesars Rewards
Best Redemption Ability — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy
210 AWARD - Caesars Entertainment – Caesars Rewards

Best Loyalty Credit Card - Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards Premier Card

The Freddie Awards also presented “best of” awards for the Europe/Africa region, and the Middle East and Asia/Oceana region.


Airline Category

Program of the Year -
Norwegian Air  Norwegian Reward
Best Elite Program - Aeroflot Bonus
Best Promotion - Air France/KLM – Flying Blue
Best Customer Service - Aeroflot Bonus
Best Redemption Ability Air France/KLM – Flying Blue
210 AWARD  - TAP Portugal – Victoria Programme

Hotel Category

Program of the Year - Accor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels
Best Elite ProgramMarriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy
Best Promotion - IHG  IHG Rewards Club 
Best Customer ServiceAccor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels
Best Redemption AbilityIHG  IHG Rewards Club
210 AWARD - NH Hotel Group – NH Rewards

Best Affinity Credit Card  - Norwegian Air  Norwegian Reward – Bank Norwegian Norwegian Card 


Airline Category

Program of the Year - Virgin Australia – Velocity 
Best Elite ProgramVirgin Australia – Velocity
Best Promotion - Virgin Australia – Velocit
Best Customer Service Virgin Australia – Velocit
Best Redemption AbilityVirgin Australia – Velocit
210 AWARD - ANA – ANA Mileage Club 

Hotel Category

Program of the YearIHG  IHG Rewards Club
Best Elite Program Hyatt – World of Hyatt
Best Promotion IHG  IHG Rewards Club
Best Customer Service -  Accor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels
Best Redemption AbilityIHG  IHG Rewards Club
210 AWARD ITC Hotels   Club ITC 

Best Affinity Credit Card  - American Express – Membership Rewards  – American Express 

Introduced in 1988 by InsideFlyer magazine’s Randy Petersen, the “Freddies” are named in honor of Sir Freddie Laker (1922-2006) and have grown in stature and importance to become the most prestigious member-generated awards in the travel loyalty industry, according to the Freddie Awards’ website. The goal of the Freddie Awards is to give voice to the frequent flier and to honor the efforts of an industry that counts more than 300 million members worldwide.

Known for his pioneering marketing ideas within the travel industry, Laker founded Britain’s first all-jet air carrier, Laker Airways Ltd., in 1966, which eventually became the largest individually and privately owned airline in the world. Laker was one of the first airline owners to adopt the "no-frills" airline business model that has since proven to be very successful worldwide with companies such as Southwest Airlines, Ryanair, easyJet, AirAsia, WestJet and Virgin Australia.

He also founded the “SKYTRAIN” service, which revolutionized the airline industry by offering the first no-reservation, low-cost air service.

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Photo by Carl Dombek
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