AirTran Leaving Membership Rewards on March 1, 2012

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This is not exactly a shocker since AirTran and Southwest Airlines are merging, and Southwest is not a Membership Rewards transfer partner, but it is still important to make a note of the date that AirTran will be leaving the Membership Rewards program.  All transfers from Membership Rewards to AirTran must be completed by 2/29/2012.

Although this isn’t a surprise, it is still another loss to the Membership Rewards program.  True, they have fairly recently added Choice Hotels and Virgin America, but I have my fingers crossed that they have more quality additions to the program coming soon.

In case you aren’t familiar with the transfer rates from Membership Rewards to AirTran A+ Rewards, the rate is 1,500 Membership Reward points to 1 A+ credit.  Normally you earn an A+ credit by taking one coach flight on AirTran.  It takes 8 A+ credits to book a one-way flight.

We don’t yet have the information about how the merged Southwest and AirTran frequent flyer systems will operate, but my bet is that it will more closely resemble the Rapid Rewards 2.0 system where points have a fixed value to be used towards the monetary cost of the reward flight, rather than the current AirTran system that is solely based on credits regardless of the cost of the reward flight.  I also bet that previously earned AirTran credits will be treated similarly to previously earned Rapid Rewards 1.0 credits.  During the Rapid Rewards 1.0 to 2.0 transition, you can use points from the new system to “top off” credits earned from the previous system.  This is just 100% my guess, but it does mirror how Southwest treated the previous frequent flyer program transition.

If you want to top-off your AirTran balance before the merger, you can add 15,000 Membership Reward points to your point collection (enough for 10 AirTran credits) by getting the American Express(R) Premier Rewards Gold Card and spending $1000 on the card within the first three months.

Are you going to be transferring some MR points to AirTran to top-off some rewards before the merger with Southwest?

HT to Beltway for sharing this info on Flyertalk.

Also, remember to enter to win a free CARES Harness so that your little ones can fly safely (without lugging a heavy car seat on the plane).

Comments

  1. I think (IMHO) that SW knew they would have to change the rewards program once they bought Air Tran since they would have an expanded route map and I’m sure when they sat around the board room figuring it out they elected to change it to the current 2.0 setup where it devalued the flight segments. Just speculation but I’m not as big of a fan of SW as I used to be just because of the rewards changes. It’s like Good news: you can redeem and fly to the Caribbean. Bad News: Reward flights will cost you more.

  2. I am sitting on 66K left of Membership Rewards after I burned through bonuses. I did not have them in time to transfer to Mileage Plus…so I am not sure what to do with them! I am currently working on Southwest points and have considered opening an AirTran account just to transfer them to before the merger. I just wish I had a better idea of how this will all work as far as the “value” of AirTran credits. I “topped off” under the Southwest transition and got stuck with “standard awards” that were impossible for me to use! So many black out dates! Tomorrow night we are using some of those “standard” awards and only had the worse flights to choose from when we booked! I hope we will have more info as time gets closer before I make my decision on using my MR points.

  3. Since WN only has RR2.0 for a short time, the chances are small that they will overhaul the program again in the near future. I think they are very comfortable with the RR2.0 – sure it is huge devaluation for short-haul flyers but this year along we have seen so many other programs devaluating. Anyhow, even if AirTran’s departure is expected, it is undoubtedly another blow to Amex MR.

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