The best for flyers is where you pay a fixed number of points, and can get significant value. For instance, a 25,000 mile award might get you a $500 ticket… or a $1000 ticket.
It’s bad enough when a program goes ‘revenue-based’, say that a point is worth a penny apiece and a $500 ticket costs 50,000 miles and a $1000 ticket costs 100,000 miles.
Southwest went revenue-based in 2011. They weren’t even offering a fixed value per point. Instead, points were worth less as tickets were in the more expensive fare classes.
- “Business Select” cost 120 points per dollar ($0.0083 cents a point)
- “Anytime” cost 100 points per dollar (1 cent per point)
- “Wanna Get Away” fares were 60 points per dollar ($0.0167 cents a point)
In 2013 Southwest proved that even revenue-based programs devalue. Just two years in they reduced the value of points on Wanna Get Away fares from 1.67 cents apiece to 1.43 cents apiece.
Yesterday Southwest devalued again. Only this time they broke away from even having a fixed value for points.
Instead of being revenue-based where points are worth a certain amount period, or a certain amount for certain types of fares, they now have a value which changes — and is unpublished.
Based on some early searches it appears that what Southwest seems to be doing is charging amounts between 70 and 80 points per dollar of airfare (so between 1.25 and 1.43 cents per point). And they are giving you less value for points on more expensive itineraries.
In other words, the more you need your points the less valuable they become. And since there’s no longer a promised value, they can change it at any time.
I still like that their award tickets are cancellable without penalty. But I wouldn’t be motivated to earn their points in all but the largest quantities with least effort.