Loyalty Programs

SouthWest Airlines (SWA) used to have the best “frequent flyer” program in the world. It was matched, almost identical, to the current Starbucks plan. Seen this before in dozens of coffee shops, and once upon a time in Austin, I used to have two or three “free drink” cards. I was regular in several places, to the extent that I carried more “frequent flyer” coffee cards than credit cards.

That was then. Loyalty is a fickle critter, she is.

Current location, there’s precious few “independent” coffee shops, and the staff at the one Starbucks really is superlative, either by corporate design or fate.

I would tend to trust fate on that one.

The frequent flyer card is simple. After fifteen drinks? A postcard, in the mail, for a free drink. 15 single-shot iced espresso drinks gives one Penta Venti Quad Grande Half Caf Caramel Chocolate Blueberry Raspberry Cappuccino Non-fat Latte. Mocha. FrappAYchino. With whip and sprinkles. 2 Splenda. And one raw sugar. Extra Hot. On ice.

The program is simple, and that’s the point. Buy 15, get one free. Southwest, back in the day, used to have a similar frequent flyer card. 16 trips, like 8 round trips from Austin to Dallas, and it was a free ticket that I could go anywhere — anywhere SWA flew.

Southwest has changed their system, more like the convoluted point systems used by NASCAR and F1 racing. I can’t keep track, it’s not like I could just look at my schedule and count flights.

So the corporate point program doesn’t work for me. The simple way, that does work.

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