Airline loyalty programs started in their present form in the 1980s. Airlines asked their advertising firms to come up with names for the new programs. It’s impressive that the first two major programs from American and United still have the same names they were given when they were formed. The same isn’t true for other programs.
Due to mergers, rebranding, or a desire to change things up, airline loyalty program names run the gamut from boring to inspiring, with a few truly confusing ones thrown in for good measure.
Here’s my totally arbitrary list of the best, worst and most interesting airline loyalty program names, which has nothing to do with how good or bad each program is for redemptions.
JetBlue – TrueBlue
JetBlue’s marketing has always been consistent with keeping the “blue” theme. Fortunately for them, “true blue” was a phrase already in use to signify being loyal and it makes perfect sense in context for their program.
British Airways – Executive Club
If a program name is supposed to invoke an idea, this one does exactly that. You can imagine being part of an exclusive club and given extra special treatment. In contrast, that’s not how the program works or how the program treats you. Not to mention that they call points in their program “Avios,” which is a made-up word.
Spirit – Free Spirit
Much like JetBlue, Spirit took a phrase already in use and co-opted it for their loyalty program. While not directly loyalty-related, the name invokes the feeling of traveling around uninhibited.
Air France and KLM – Flying Blue
With Air France and KLM’s merger in 2002, their loyalty programs were merged forming Flying Blue. I’m not sure what the program name is supposed to mean. Unlike the best names above, this one doesn’t make me think about anything when I hear it. It’s confusing and forgettable, which is the worst crime imaginable for a marketing name.
Emirates – Skywards
I’m not a fan of this name for the sole reason that every time I see “Skyrewards,” which I think is a much better name. Skywards is an awkward name for a loyalty program.
Turkish – Miles&Smiles
It could be that something is lost in translation but besides rhyming, what else do these things have to do with each other? When I hear this name, I think of a combination oil-change/dental office. Turkish also removed the spaces making the name all one word. ThatIsAnnoying.
American – AAdvantage
The first major airline loyalty program has kept the same name since it was launched. I want to give American grief about using the double AA for everything, but it makes sense because that was their logo for years. Even the tails of their planes had AA on them. Regarding the AAdvantage name, kudos to them for coming up with a name that was about loyalty to the airline but has stood the test of time. AAdvantage stays current while programs morphed away from being about earning miles from flying and more about being point-selling revenue machines.
Singapore – KrisFlyer
While you may know about the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program, have you ever thought about what KrisFlyer means? There’s no information on the airline website about the name’s history, but here’s what I found when searching the internet. The word “kris” (or keris) refers to a dagger used by people of Indonesia and surrounding areas. Some daggers were thought to have mystical powers, either good or evil, and have become a part of the cultural heritage. The logo on the back of Singapore Airlines planes is a bird inspired by the silver kris dagger. Singapore has used the Kris branding for its loyalty program, lounges (SilverKris and KrisFlyer) and even the inflight entertainment system (KrisWorld) and magazine (SilverKris).
Most airlines use a rather ordinary name for their loyalty programs. You can’t go wrong with Mileage Club, Hawaiian Miles or Miles and More. Things get interesting when programs try to get fancy with the name. Sometimes they do a good job and sometimes those names miss the mark. Are there any other programs you like (or dislike) because of the name alone?
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary