Freddies Voting has Begun!

Voting for the Freddie Awards is now open and will last through February 28.

I voted for United as program of the year and best elite level. It has a truly industry-leading award chart — fewest miles for the best international premium class awards (think 90,000 miles for business class to Australia) — and its 1K program can’t be beat for international upgrades from reasonable fares without a co-pay.

On the other hand, not a single one of my votes went to Northwest, Delta, or Continental. Together they’ve been increasing mileage costs on premium-class awards and (Continental and Northwest especially) offer generally poor award availability. Skyteam really is the leftover alliance, with equally stingy partners Air France and KLM.

On the other hand, best redemption has to go to American… (with a nod to all Star Alliance carriers for making it possible to easily travel to Asia in business or first class on points.)

I didn’t vote in the best newsletter category. I really don’t have an opinion on this one. I guess Delta’s is pretty good for offering bonuses, I like United’s emails, and I don’t particularly find anything useful from Continental. But I don’t really have a strong opinion.

Here’s one a bit out of left field, I’m not really an active member in the Aeroplan program but I voted Air Canada as having the best website for one and only one reason: Air Canada allows you to search and book Star Alliance awards online. This is huge. (ANA is a new entry into this field, too new to warrant a vote in my view however.)

I had considered voting Hyatt as best hotel website, but decided not to since they took the ability to book gift certificate stays off-line. Removing website functionality gets a big thumbs down from me. Starwood is a perennial winner here but I really can’t understand why, except as part of a general trend towards rewarding the program (which has a great award scheme and a good Platinum program but which is weak on the earning side outside of the SPG Amex).

Every year Randy Petersen and his team make great efforts to ensure the validity of the voting process. And I wouldn’t expect him to divulge internal processes (since that might make it easier to game the system…). But I wonder how allowing multiple votes is avoided, since all you seem to need is a unique email address. I wonder if one couldn’t just create a bunch of Yahoo accounts (being careful to avoid IP matches)?

I also wonder about categories like best bonus where programs have several different bonuses up for voting. Now, maybe each bonus really is standing on its own. But it seems like a program offering lots of bonuses throughout the year could wind up competing with itself. Starwood partisans might be split between nights and flights, cash and points, and 5000 bonus miles for transferring 20,000 to an airline program. Then a program with only one bonus listed might run away with the award.

Finally, I’m not a fan of ‘value voting’ where you vote not just for a program or award but also give it a score, and then average scores are tallied in order to name the winner. Each person’s scale is different. Some folks might think they’re rating a bonus highly if they give it an 8 but another person might value it the same way and give it a 10. I understand this procedure gives smaller programs with fewer members a chance to be recognized, but it seems quite imprecise and problematic when ties are often broken by several decimal places. That said, there aren’t usually too many surprises so it may work in practice.

Anyway, go cast your vote! It’s a great opportunity for programs to hear our voices — they do take these awards seriously, as evidenced by the campaigns that many of them mount with their members to get out the vote, and the ads they run touting their Freddie awards they’ve won.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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