Employers, Employees, and Customers Win with Airline Travel Incentives

by: Nichole Gunn May 19, 2011

Employee rewards are an intricate factor in incentive strategies, and points-based or miles-earning programs are effective strategies airlines use to motivate businesses.

Thanks to American Airlines Business ExtrAA program, businesses based in California have the opportunity to earn travel incentives by enrolling in the initiate. And, United Airlines has its own incentive that urges companies to demonstrate their appreciation for productive workers with Reward Miles.

Focusing on small and mid-sized businesses, Business ExtrAA utilizes a complimentary customer loyalty strategy that lets these businesses earn points when their personnel fly American Connection, American Airlines, or American Eagle for business. These flights are required to be booked through the company’s Business ExtrAA account. Each business flight booked with the company’s account number provides the company with earned points. An added bonus to this program is that the employees can also “accrue miles on their personal frequent flyer accounts when traveling under the Business ExtrAA number.”

Regional vice president of American Airlines' western sales division Cathy Berg explains that in the U.S. it’s the small and mid-size organizations that are steadily moving the economy forward. Because of this, she notes, “we're excited to offer this promotion to help new member companies minimize their travel costs and get a jump start to earning travel awards in our Business ExtrAA program."

The program, and its promotion, is geared toward helping the airlines expansion in Los Angeles.  In early April of this year, American Eagle and American Airlines implemented thirty-two new round-trip flights spearheading the expansion. The flights include nonstops to Salt Lake City, Houston, Pheonix, and Shanghai, China. The new strategy has boosted American Airlines service at LAX 28 percent.

Director of small and medium enterprises products, marketing, and sales strategy for American Airlines Karen Buls is optimistic about the expansion initiative, "We believe our new routes out of LAX will be of high value to small and medium businesses who rely on face-to-face meetings."

Utilizing automatic tracking of purchases and account updates, Business ExtrAA allows businesses to redeem their reward points for more than fifty travel awards. The various awards include, AAdvantage Gold Status, Admirals Club exclusive airport lounge features, flights, and upgrades. Another feature of the program is that companies are allowed to donate their accrued points toward their own employee incentive programs.

According to Business Traveler International Magazine, United Airlines' Mileage Plus Reward Miles, a comparable program, won Best Frequent Flyer Program by the readers. The airline received this honor five consecutive years. The Miles Plus program allows employers to award employees with ‘miles’ that can be redeemed for food, online access, and even free flights. The companies also have the option of using their ‘miles points’ to reward their own customers, thereby enhancing loyalty and business ties.