Score Rewards for Flying: How Airline Customer Loyalty Programs Work

Jay Pagkatotohan

Jay Pagkatotohan

Last updated October 27, 2022

When you travel, you’re not just visiting a destination. You’re also seeking rewarding experiences, be it in the form of freedom, new friends, and new memories. Traveling becomes even more rewarding when you’re flying with air carriers that have the best airline customer loyalty programs.

Like other companies in the travel industry, airlines vie for their customers’ loyalty since it means business to them. But how do airline customer loyalty programs exactly work? We’re covering that and more in this handy guide.

What are Airline Customer Loyalty Programs?

what are airline customer loyalty programs

Commercial airlines reward loyal passengers with air miles or points through loyalty programs, also known as frequent-flyer programs. In the Philippines, AirAsia has AirAsia BIG, Cebu Pacific has Go Rewards, and Philippine Airlines (PAL) has Mabuhay Miles.

Airline loyalty programs work like typical customer rewards programs of malls, bookstores, and gas stations. Each time you buy a product, you earn corresponding points. When it comes to airlines, you earn points or miles when you book a plane ticket, buy from the airline's partner outlets, or use an air miles credit card

6 Benefits of Airline Customer Loyalty Programs

Booking flights under a loyalty program is a great opportunity to rack up rewards points. Take advantage of these frequent-flyer program benefits.

benefits of frequent flyer programs

1. Free and Easy Membership

Airline customer loyalty programs usually offer free registration. Usually, you don’t have to submit complicated documents and requirements. You can register via the airline’s website or app. You can even earn rewards points as soon as you sign up!

2. Earn Miles from Flight and Non-Flight Purchases

Whether you're a frequent or just a casual traveler, it's easy to collect rewards points under airline customer loyalty programs. Earn points not only when you fly with your preferred airline but also when you purchase from its local and overseas partner establishments.

3. Redeem Miles or Points for Free Flights and Other Freebies

Who doesn't want to fly for free? Keep earning air miles as a member of an airline loyalty program, and you'll reach enough points to snag a free flight. Once you do, you can buy a plane ticket with your miles as you would with cash or a credit card.

4. Exclusive and Priority Access to Seat Sales

Always on the lookout for seat sale promos? Airlines usually give first dibs on seat sales to their loyalty program members before they make the promos available to everyone. This is especially helpful during peak travel seasons like summer when low-fare seats fill up too quickly.

5. Exclusive Access to Promos

Members of airline customer loyalty programs enjoy a wide range of exclusive deals. These include bonus points, freebies, and even discounts from the airline’s partner businesses and establishments. If you have the airline’s mobile app, turn your notifications on so you won’t miss out on these exciting perks.

6. Long Validity Periods for Air Miles

Unused accumulated miles won't easily go to waste. Your points remain valid for a long time, depending on the airline loyalty program. If you’re a frequent flyer with a lot of miles who’s planning to travel next year, you can use them until then.

Read more: Air Miles, Travel Insurance, and More: Best Travel Credit Cards in the Philippines for 2022

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Airline Customer Loyalty Programs in the Philippines

Three leading air carriers in the Philippines offer airline customer loyalty programs. Check out the features of Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Miles, Cebu Pacific’s Go Rewards, and AirAsia’s BIG.

✈️ PAL Mabuhay Miles

airline customer loyalty program - pal mabuhay miles

The frequent flyer program of the country’s flag carrier, PAL Mabuhay Miles offers a slew of useful features other than miles for flight and non-flight services. These include Buy Miles, Reinstatement of Expired Miles, and Miles Transfer.

The Buy Miles feature lets you add a maximum of 150,000 miles to any single account within a calendar year.[1] Reinstatement of Expired Miles allows you to activate your expired miles within a specific period. Meanwhile, Miles Transfer lets you transfer up to 150,000 miles from your account to another Mabuhay Miles member.  

Mabuhay Miles Features and Privileges

  • Free sign-up
  • Earn miles for domestic and international flights
  • Earn miles on eligible codeshare flights with a Philippine Airlines flight number
  • Earn miles on qualified car rentals at providers, such as Advantage Rent A Car, Avis, and Hertz
  • Free flights and service class upgrades when you transfer AUB Rewards points to your Mabuhay Miles account
  • Convert Shell Go+ points into Miles
  • Convert Miles into Petron Value Card points
  • Convert Bank of Commerce points into Miles
  • Convert 1 Infinite point from Power Mac Center’s rewards system into Miles
  • Convert SM Advantage Card (SMAC) points into Mabuhay Miles

How to Sign Up for PAL Mabuhay Miles

The quickest way to sign up for Mabuhay Miles is through the Philippine Airlines website. You can also download the Mabuhay Miles app from the App Store, Google Play, and Huawei AppGallery to create an account.

For the web portal application, here are the steps to take note of:

  1. Go to Philippine Airlines’ official website.
  2. To access the frequent flyer program of Philippine Airlines, click Mabuhay Miles on the homepage. Then click About Mabuhay Miles.
  3. On the next page, click FAQs and then On Enrollment.
  4. Then click the enrollment link in the Q and A section. 
  5. On the next page, fill out the enrollment form, tick the Terms and Conditions/Data Privacy Policy box, and click Submit.

How to Redeem Mabuhay Miles

Philippine Airlines says you can redeem a travel award after you reach 3,500 miles. The air carrier reminds members they can redeem their desired awards as soon as they accumulate the required Miles.

The Mabuhay Miles redemption is relatively easy if your award is a flight ticket. You’ll need to call Philippine Airlines Reservations to book your flights and claim the award tickets at your desired ticketing office. You’ll also need to present the following:

  • One valid ID with photo and signature (driver’s license or passport since it’s required for international travel award redemption)
  • Authorization letter from the member if applicable
  • One valid ID with photo and signature of an authorized representative
  • Applicable fees, taxes, and surcharges

When Do Mabuhay Miles Expire?

According to Philippine Airlines, expiry for miles has been extended to January 31, 2023.

Read more:

✈️ Cebu Pacific Go Rewards

airline customer loyalty program - cebu pacific go rewards

Go Rewards is the centralized rewards system of the Gokongwei group, bringing together GetGo, Cebu Pacific’s former loyalty program, and other partner establishments. This means you can use your Go Rewards membership to enjoy deals, discounts, and promos not just at Cebu Pacific but also at accredited stores. If you have a GetGo account, your points will be converted either into Cebu Pacific Travel Fund and/or Go Rewards points.[2]

Go Rewards Features and Privileges

  • Free sign-up
  • Earn and redeem rewards points at over 2,000 accredited stores and lifestyle partners nationwide
  • One Go Rewards point is equivalent to ₱1 when used for your next purchase at accredited stores
  • Matches the price of Cebu Pacific tickets with points. This means that you can redeem a Piso Seat Sale using one Go Rewards point
  • Upgradable to Go Rewards Black, which has the following perks:
    • Exclusive Black Members Lane a the Marketplace and Shopwise
    • Access to sales
    • Exclusive deals and offers from partner shops
    • Exclusive customer hotline
    • Free gift-wrapping service at Robinsons Department stores
    • Free delivery for the first 5 km with purchases from Savers Appliances
    • Free parking at select The Marketplace branches for first four hours (no minimum purchase required) and first three hours at Shopwise branches (no purchase required) 

How to Sign Up for Cebu Pacific Go Rewards

The fastest and easiest way to register with Go Rewards is via the Go Rewards app. However, you can also become a member by buying a Go Rewards card at any partner retail store or participating in promotional offers that require the creation of a virtual account.

For Go Rewards app registration, here’s what you need to remember:

  1. Download the Go Rewards app from the App Store, Google Play Store, and Huawei App Gallery.
  2. Click the Join Us button.
  3. Supply the required information.
  4. Tap Sign Me Up. Wait for a code to be sent to the mobile number that you registered.
  5. Enter the code sent to you.
  6. Once the code is validated, set your password.
  7. Once your account has been created, verify your email address by clicking Send Now on the Email Verification pop-up.
  8. Input the verification code received via email.

How to Redeem Go Rewards Points  

Redeeming Go Rewards points is easy. You just have to present proof of membership, such as a physical card or QR code, at any of the participating stores. Redemptions don’t even require a minimum number of points.

When Do Go Rewards Points Expire?

Membership and points won’t expire. But a Go Rewards account will be closed and points will be forfeited if the member doesn’t do at least one of the following within three consecutive years:

  • Successful log-in to the Go Rewards account using the Go Rewards app and/or website
  • Successful earning of Go Rewards points
  • Successful redemptions of Go Rewards points
  • Successful redemption of a coupon

Read more: 13 Best Co-Branded Credit Cards to Check Out: Savings, Perks, and More

✈️ AirAsia BIG

airline customer loyalty program - airasia big

BIG is AirAsia’s loyalty program for its frequent flyers. Other than earning BIG points from flights, you can also get them from different partner merchants. You can even exchange your AirAsia BIG Rewards points with points from other loyalty programs.

With AirAsia BIG rewards, you can also give your points as a gift. On top of that, you can enjoy various airline privileges and bonus points with AirAsia’s credit and debit cards.

AirAsia BIGFeatures and Privileges

  • Free sign-up
  • Instant flight discounts for AirAsia Rewards members
  • 24-hour AirAsia Rewards members-only priority access to sales
  • Exclusive access to monthly sales
  • Full redemption for free flights
  • Free gifts and exclusive offers during your birth month
  • Access to contests where you can win prizes, such as passes to screenings, festivals, and other events
  • Exclusive perks for Platinum and Black members, such as priority check-in and baggage collection

How to Sign Up for AirAsia BIG

  1. Visit airasia.com/rewards or download the AirAsia Super App from the App Store, Google Play, or Huawei App Gallery. Then click Sign Up Now.
  2. Supply your personal details, such as email address, password, date of birth, and mobile number. Then click Continue.
  3. Click the Request OTP button. Enter the OTP sent to your mobile to proceed with the registration.
  4. Activate your membership account by clicking the link sent to your email address.

How to Redeem BIG Points

You can earn BIG points through the following:

  • Final Call Sales – Get a one-way flight for as low as 500 BIG points
  • Final Call X Sales – These are AirAsia X flight deals that can give you up to 80% savings
  • Everyday Promo Flight –  Use your BIG Fixed Points to redeem flights with up to 70% discount based on your flight’s travel time
  • Hotel Booking – Use your points to book accommodations
  • Travel Attractions and Activities – Use your points to access activities and attractions at over 150 destinations
  • Lifestyle – Purchase what’s hot and trendy at over 238 lifestyle partners
  • Flight Price Reduction – Because BIG points are as good as cash, you can use them to reduce a portion of your flight’s price

When Do BIG Points Expire?

According to AirAsia, points are valid for 24 months from the date of issuance. Keep in mind that AirAsia won’t reinstate any forfeited points.[3]

Comparing Airline Customer Loyalty Programs in the Philippines

To help you decide which of the airline customer loyalty programs is right for you, here’s a summary of each rewards system’s features and perks.

Airline Customer Loyalty Program Membership Fee Availability Rewards Points/Miles Validity Key Features
Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Miles Free Website and app (App Store, Google Play, Huawei AppGallery) Extended to January 31, 2023
  • Earn miles on eligible codeshare flights with a Philippine Airlines flight number
  • Earn miles on qualified car rentals at providers, such as Advantage Rent A Car, Avis, and Hertz
  • Free flights and service class upgrades when you transfer AUB Rewards points to your Mabuhay Miles account
  • Convert Shell Go+ points into Miles
  • Convert Miles into Petron Value Card points
  • Convert SMAC points into Mabuhay Miles
Cebu Pacific Go Rewards Free Website and app (App Store, Google Play, Huawei AppGallery) Technically no expiry. But the account and the points in it will be forfeited if there are no successful activities for three consecutive years
  • One Go Rewards point is equal to ₱1.00 when used for your next purchase at accredited stores
  • Matches the price of Cebu Pacific flights with points. This means that you can redeem a Piso Seat Sale using one Go Rewards point
  • Rewards points can be earned and redeemed at over 2,000 accredited stores and lifestyle partners nationwide
AirAsia BIG Free Website and app (App Store, Google Play, Huawei AppGallery) 24 months from the date of issuance
  • Instant flight discounts for AirAsia Rewards members
  • 24-hour members-only priority access to sales
  • Special access to monthly sales
  • Full redemption for free flights
  • Exclusive perks for Platinum and Black members, such as priority check-in and baggage collection

Read more: 

Final Thoughts

From new friends to new memories, traveling is indeed a rewarding experience. But you can make your journeys even more rewarding through airline customer loyalty programs.

Choosing the right program doesn’t have to be difficult. All you need to do is focus on your travel style and usual budget. But if you want to be particular about your selection, there are a few things to think about. 

First, consider the number of destinations the airline offers, especially if you frequently travel both locally and internationally. Second, check if credit card points can be converted into miles and vice versa. Third, see if there are other ways to earn miles. Finally, determine the ease of redeeming your miles or points.

Once you factor all of these in, you’ll find the right loyalty program for you.

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Jay is a marketing communications professional who specializes in short-form and long-form content. He has written ads for TV, radio, print, and digital. He has also produced corporate blogs, magazine features, white papers, product listings, reviews, and press releases for clients here and abroad. When he’s not writing, Jay plays the piano or takes pictures for his visual diary. Follow Jay on LinkedIn.