Airline industry consider frequent flier miles programs as their great business. American Airline was the first one who started a loyalty program in 1981. As time goes by, this type of program has become more and more popular.
In the beginning, these programs made sense to both airlines and customers. Airlines had extra seats that needed to be filled, and frequent fliers were rewarded for their loyalty to the airlines. But, as these programs expanded over the years, airlines realized just how much money they could make off of them. Airlines began selling miles to companies, including your credit card company, and started making millions from these deals. Soon, the airlines just couldn't get enough of these programs.
Recently, frequent flier mile holders have begun to worry about airlines with all their financial trouble and mergers. They are afraid that they may be getting ready to lose their miles. This is why consumption of frequent flier miles has risen over the past few years as passengers try to use as many miles as possible before "their airline" goes under.
But, while that is a possibility, the amount of money that is being made off of these programs pretty much squashes any chance of you losing your miles. Most frequent flier programs come under bankruptcy protection when an airline is looking to restructure. If one company takes over another, the airline frequent flier mile programs are just rolled into the new company's program.
As a consumer, you don't have to worry about your frequent flyer miles disappearing in the black hole of financial trouble. You should be worrying about the ability to use those miles. Recently, the number of black-out dates for using frequent flier miles has risen, especially to popular destinations like Hawaii and Las Vegas. Or, if the dates aren't blacked out, you may have to earn more miles before you can get a ticket.
Now, you only have a short amount of time to use those miles before they expire. And, if they're getting close to the expiration date, you can sell them with sites like FlyHub.com, but you may have to fight for that right since airlines like to control what consumers can or cannot do with their hard earned and paid for miles.
Whatever the current climate, airline frequent flier programs aren't going anywhere. Fliers still want the perks that come along with the programs, including not having to wait in boarding lines and earning miles towards free tickets. And, airlines still want the millions of dollars that they are making off of the programs.