The airline loyalty program for pets

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Korean Air’s Skypets loyalty program for pet passengers has made some aviation experts wonder whether U.S. airlines will provide such a program of their own.

Domestic animals that fit in a carrier earn their own frequent-flyer miles on Korean Air when they travel with their human companion. Pets receive one “stamp” for each domestic flight that they take and two stamps for each international flight. Twelve stamps add up to one no-cost domestic flight; 24 stamps earn a free international flight.

Ross Aimer, who is the CEO of Aero Consulting Experts, which is an aviation consulting company, considers this to be a marketing gimmick on Korean Air’s part that, if it’s proved to be successful, will become a permanent policy. Aimer says he doesn’t see Korean Air paying much of an additional cost to provide the program. He adds that if other airlines see it working as a result of increased revenue, they will do the same.

Steve Cowell, who is an aviation expert, believes that the promotion is terrific for pet owners, but he doesn’t expect other airlines to copy it. Cowell says airlines view a pet as cargo, which gives it no consideration beyond what the airline would give a case of flowers, for example. Furthermore, pets that travel on flights represent a small portion of an airline’s revenue, and only a certain number of pets are allowed in the cargo compartment depending on an airline’s policy.