Our brother-in-law has two million miles with Delta, and after one million miles received a nice carry-on case. Another friend just finished 500,000 miles with United Airlines – no gift, no card, no thank you.  Every year, depending on how we travel, we have reached some status with one airline or another– this last year it was with Alaska Airlines and US Air.

Airlines compete to get your business- to get you to fly with them, and in return you will attain a status that allows anything from tickets for miles flown, to no charge for luggage, or better seating.

Being a frequent traveler means that we can choose which airlines we like to spend our dollars with, and at the start of the year we check go through our list of airlines and see which ones we like, and often we have arbitrary reasons for choosing them.  ‘

Airlines change- and it is the small changes that make a big difference to frequent travelers. Here is our plan for 2012.

The big plan is that our son turns two years old – so he will go from a lap-child to a full ticketed person.  This will change how we fly – moving us from the front cabin to taking over a row of seats.

US Airways flies in and out of Phoenix a lot, so we use them a lot. Plenty of flights, and every year we attain some status on their flights. In first class they are comfortable and clean. They have direct flights to most cities we go to.

Alaska Airlines was another that we used often, but this year we are going more toward Delta.  One simple reason. We have six full first class seats a year to Alaska.  Delta has larger aircraft and they pay more attention to their customers in first class than Alaska does.  This is what we noticed this last year. While we like Alaska Airlines, it appears they have uniformly cut down on customer service.

Southwest Airlines – friendly, and with three people, this makes it easy for us.

Some of the other carriers are not major carriers where we live. This includes United/Continental, Jet Blue, and American Airlines.

We see trends in airlines change.  For a while Delta’s service suffered and we stopped flying them.  Either they have stayed the same and others have gone backwards or they have improved (probably a little of both).

Lesson learned: being a frequent flier with one airline is not a benefit. Change airlines as they change, vote with your feet. The miles you get with frequent fliers are often not going to be a significant factor.

Delta Was our Winner for First Class service with an infant