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Best Travel Card Awards

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The suspense is over, InsideFlyer finally announced the winners of the 10th Annual Freddie Awards in association with MCI and American Express SkyGuide at the Westin New York Hotel.

An unprecedented 44,000 frequent travelers voted, rating airline and hotel programs in eight categories Program of the Year, Best Award, Best Bonus, Best Program Newsletter, Best Web Site, Best International Program, Best Elite-Level Program and Best Customer Service. A Freddie was also awarded for the Best Frequent Traveler Affinity Credit Card Program, and Petersen singled out four programs for Special Recognition awards.

“Frequent travelers around the world know what the best programs are. They travel with them daily. We’re honored that for the last ten years they’ve chosen to allow the Freddie Awards to represent their votes,” said Petersen. “Only a handful of programs embody the sort of excellence it takes to earn the honor of a Freddie Award.”

The Continental OnePass and Marriott Rewards frequent travel programs snapped up the first etched crystal trophies for the coveted Program of the Year awards. Continental went on to win additional Freddies in four more categories Best Program Newsletter, Best Web Site, Best Elite-Level Program and Best Customer Service. Buoyed by the revamping of their program, Marriott Rewards also won four more Freddies Best Award for its 200,000 point Choice Award, Best Program Newsletter, Best International Program and Best Customer Service.

Hilton HHonors made a respectable showing with three Freddies Best Bonus for its “Double Dip,” Best Web Site and Best Elite-Level Frequent Guest Program. Diners Club topped the list for Best Frequent Traveler Affinity Credit Card and Virgin Freeway took the Freddie for Best International Frequent Flyer Program. A surprise showing in this year’s Freddie’s came from Southwest Rapid Rewards, which garnered second place wins in two categories Best Frequent Flyer Program and Best Customer Service. Petersen believes this reflects changes in the voting process. For the first time, Freddie ballots included a value vote which allowed voters not only to choose the best program, but also to rate their choice with 10 equating the highest score possible. This was a change from the popular vote which was used in the first nine years. It was not a matter of how many votes a program received but the overall merits of what each program has to offer which determined the winners. The addition of the value vote and a record number of voters made the Freddie Awards for 1997 the most comprehensive and accurate ever.

This year Petersen gave special recognition to several programs and individuals he believes demonstrated exceptional management and commitment to frequent travelers. He commended Reno Air QQuick Miles for a program debut promotion akin to Hilton’s “Double Dip;” Northwest WorldPerks showed commitment to frequent flyers by allowing members to access award seat availability online; Sheraton Club International created Instant Rewards, a program which allows points to be used as currency in its hotels; Continental OnePass used Internet email to alert members to weekend award specials; and finally, Petersen lauded the efforts of Senators John McCain, Bob Graham and Kent Conrad for their efforts to fight new tax on miles.

The Freddie Awards are named after Sir Freddie Laker who attracted fame for his pioneering marketing ideas within the travel industry in the 1970s. The “Freddies” were introduced to members of frequent traveler programs in 1988. Petersen, then the editor of FREQUENT, decided to poll members of various frequent traveler programs. The Freddies have since grown in stature and importance and are the oldest and most prestigious awards solely voted on by frequent flyers themselves.

Sponsors of this year’s Freddie Awards include the following

InsideFlyer, a monthly magazine dedicated to the coverage of frequent travel programs around the world, helps more than 80,000 readers optimize their mileage and point earning potential through in-depth news coverage of programs, their partners and special bonuses and promotions.

MCI, headquartered in Washington D.C., offers the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio of communication services. With 1996 revenues of $18.5 billion, MCI ranks as one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies. MCI is also the world’s third largest carrier of international voice traffic and operates one of the world’s most advanced Internet networks. Since its founding in 1968 MCI has been a leader in bringing the benefits of long distance competition to businesses and consumers and is now leading the charge to open U.S. local calling markets to competition.

SkyGuide, published by American Express, is a monthly pocket sized airline schedule guide used by frequent business travelers.

                            Freddie Award Winners
                     Numbers Represent Value Vote Rating

    Program of the Year

     Airline
      Continental OnePass                9.30
      Southwest Rapid Rewards            9.12
      United Mileage Plus                8.98

    Hotel
      Marriott Rewards                   8.58
      Hilton HHonors Worldwide           8.44
      Westin Premier                     8.37

    Best Award

     Airline
      Delta SkyMiles - Hawaii coach award for 30,000 miles
      American AAdvantage - Reno Air/Midway Airlines
      partner awards for 15,000 miles
      United Mileage Plus - shuttle awards for 6,000 miles

     Hotel
      Marriott Rewards - 200,000 point Choice Award
      Hilton HHonors Worldwide - Point Stretchers
      Hyatt Gold Passport - Equal reward redemption levels
      for regular and resort hotels

    Best Bonus

     Airline
      American AAdvantage - "Drive and Dream" promotion
      United Mileage Plus - "United Connection" online bonus
      Continental OnePass - BusinessFirst double miles promotion

     Hotel
      Hilton HHonors Worldwide - "Double Dip"
      Marriott Rewards - "Double Take" promotion
      Hyatt Gold Passport - "Nights after Nights" promotion

    Best Program Newsletter

     Airline
      Continental OnePass Update         8.63
      United Mileage Plus Mileage Plus   8.40
      TWA Frequent Flight Bonus Update   8.34

     Hotel
      Marriott Rewards Marriott Rewards  8.24
      Hilton HHonors Worldwide Update    8.09
      Westin Premier Preview             8.06

    Best Web Site

     Airline
      Continental OnePass                8.88
      Northwest WorldPerks               8.73
      TWA Frequent Flight Bonus          8.65

     Hotel
      Hilton HHonors Worldwide           8.34
      Marriott Rewards                   8.21
      Sheraton Club International        8.19

    Best International Program

     Airline
      Virgin Freeway                     8.49
      Qantas Frequent Flyer              8.12
      Thai Royal Orchid Plus             8.08

     Hotel
      Marriott Rewards                   8.64
      Hyatt Gold Passport                8.46
      Hilton HHonors Worldwide           8.40

    Best Elite-Level Program

     Airline
      Continental OnePass                9.28
      United Mileage Plus                9.02
      TWA Frequent Flight Bonus          8.91

     Hotel
      Hilton HHonors Worldwide           8.62
      Westin Premier                     8.51
      Marriott Rewards                   8.47

    Best Customer Service

     Airline
      Continental OnePass                9.19
      Southwest Rapid Rewards            9.18
      United Mileage Plus                9.01

     Hotel
      Marriott Rewards                   8.72
      Hyatt Gold Passport                8.59
      Westin Premier                     8.58

    Best Frequent Traveler Affinity Charge or Credit Card

     Diners Club Club Rewards            9.45
     Marriott Rewards Visa Gold          8.77
     American Express Membership
      Rewards                            8.74

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