Airline Loyalty Programs Losing Appeal Among Gen Z and Millennials

Airline Loyalty Programs Losing Appeal Among Gen Z and Millennials

Kazuki Nakamura
2 min read

Airline Loyalty Programs Losing Appeal Among Gen Z and Millennials

A recent survey conducted by OAG, a prominent travel data company, has divulged a concerning trend for traditional airline loyalty programs. The survey, comprising 2,000 North American flyers, exposes a noteworthy decline in enrollment among the younger generations, particularly Gen Z and millennials. Shockingly, only 65% of Gen Z and 70% of millennials are currently participating in frequent flyer programs, representing a substantial drop compared to older demographics such as baby boomers and Gen X. Notably, lack of consistent travel with a single carrier and prolonged redemption processes were revealed as the primary reasons for this disinterest, compounded by heightened concerns about data privacy among younger travelers. These revelations challenge the long-held belief within the airline industry that loyalty programs serve as a pivotal revenue source, prompting a call for airlines to realign their strategies to better engage and retain younger clientele.

Key Takeaways

  • A substantial decline in the participation of Gen Z and millennials in airline loyalty programs.
  • The persisting challenge of consistent travel with a single carrier hinders younger travelers from joining loyalty programs.
  • OAG's survey urges airlines to revamp loyalty strategies and consider allowing points for other travel purchases to enhance brand loyalty, reflecting a need for innovative measures to address shifting consumer behaviors.


The evident shift in consumer behavior, illustrated by the diminishing participation of Gen Z and millennials in airline loyalty programs as underscored by OAG's survey, presents a pressing need for the airline industry to innovate its loyalty strategies. With the looming threat to Delta's projected $10 billion loyalty program revenue, airlines are compelled to pivot and adapt, envisaging potential short-term revenue downturns and necessitating immediate strategic recalibrations, including an expansion of point redemption options. In the long run, airlines are mandated to redefine loyalty to encompass more flexible benefits and address privacy concerns to ensure sustained revenue and customer retention. The failure to adapt could precipitate further deterioration of brand loyalty and market share among younger demographics.

Did You Know?

  • OAG (Official Aviation Guide): A leading global travel data provider offering comprehensive insights into schedules, capacity, and on-time performance benchmarking data, vital for aiding airlines, airports, and travel companies in comprehending market dynamics, tracking competitors, and optimizing operations.
  • Gen Z and Millennials: Gen Z encompasses individuals born between 1997 and 2012, while millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996, distinguishable for their digital nativity and distinct consumption patterns in contrast to older generations like Baby Boomers and Gen X.
  • Frequent Flyer Programs: These loyalty programs, provided by airlines to reward loyal customers, bestow benefits such as complimentary flights, seat upgrades, and access to airport lounges. Members accumulate points or miles based on various factors, redeemable for various travel perks.

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