The fate of airline frequent flyer programs

Over the last few weeks, I have been asked the same question by a multitude of clients, friends, colleagues and fellow students at a two-day sales management training.  That question, surprisingly to me was, “…with all the airlines merging, will they stop frequent flyer programs?”  Having worked for major airlines and travel management companies, I am used to and enjoy talking about travel. In my friends’ minds, the four major airlines, post mergers, would have no reason to offer traveler incentives.  I foresee the exact opposite.  Not only will frequent flyer programs at Delta, United, Southwest and the new America continue, they will be enhanced.  Here’s my reasoning: