12 December 2010

The Professor Sets The Record Straight - The World's First Frequent Flyer Program

In the Spring of 1980 A major US Airline started a revolution that was to change the industry. It was a program that rewarded the traveler for his loyalty.

It was launched on what is still today the most heavily travelled corridor for air travel in the world - Los Angeles (Southern California) to the San Francisco (Bay Area).

Was that airline American Airlines? Nope!
Was that airline United Airlines? Nope!

It was Western Airlines. And the account team at McCann Ericson that came up with the idea. Andre, Mike, Scott, Kim and yours truly.

Here is a quote from Inside Flyer:

About the same time, Western Airlines ("The Only Way To Fly") introduced its Travel Pass program, which might well be called the first real frequent flyer program. The Travel Pass program awarded $50 in travel certificates to passengers who flew five trips with Western. While not mileage based, it did pass the reward test and moved beyond the "earning copper" programs that were already in existence. These earlier programs were designed for the business traveler, and were literally the only marketing efforts by the airlines to this important group. At that time, the airline industry had abandoned the business traveler and was comfortable in turning this customer over to the travel agency.

Somewhere I still have some of the blanks of the TravelPass $50 card.

For a small fee if anyone is interested - I can spin a yarn or two about the TravelPass program. The team that created it at McCann clearly started a revolution and its high time they got some credit.

Cheers Guys!