When planning a trip, it's a given to pick up loyalty miles and points from the airline, hotel and car rental company. But travelers might be missing out on valuable rewards from another source: The airport.
More airports are adding their own incentives for frequent travelers, including discounted parking, exclusive lounges and bonus airline miles on in-terminal purchases. It's a way for airports to compete against each other as airline consolidation shifts routes and raises prices, said Dean Headley, a professor of marketing at Wichita State University and co-author of the annual Airline Quality Rating study.
"Airlines offer the service that airports ultimately have to keep up with," he said, "And let's face it; fliers want convenience, price and schedule. If they can get a better deal by driving an hour, they'll do it."
Perks are more prevalent among small regional airports, which often come up short in such comparisons. "We are seeing a lot of local airports lose traffic to larger airports where there's more service, and therefore lower fares," said George Hobica, founder of AirfareWatchdog.com. "Loyalty programs are the next step in enticing passengers to use their facilities."