TribLIVE

| Business

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pittsburgh airport joins national frequent-flyer perks program

Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review - Travelers walk past the new Armani Jeans store at the Pittsburgh International Airport, Wednesday, June 18, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Keith Hodan  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Travelers walk past the new Armani Jeans store at the Pittsburgh International Airport, Wednesday, June 18, 2014.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review - Travelers are blurred as they hurry past the new Armani Jeans store at the Pittsburgh International Airport on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Keith Hodan  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Travelers are blurred as they hurry past the new Armani Jeans store at the Pittsburgh International Airport on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review - With the new Armani store in the background, Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive, speaks about a new program called FlyPIT Perks, which rewards travelers when they shop, dine, or park at the airport.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Keith Hodan  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>With the new Armani store in the background, Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive, speaks about a new program called FlyPIT Perks, which rewards travelers when they shop, dine, or park at the airport.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review - With the new Armani store in the background, Jim Gill, acting executive director of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, announces a new program called FlyPIT Perks, which rewards travelers when they shop, dine, or park at the airport.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Keith Hodan  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>With the new Armani store in the background, Jim Gill, acting executive director of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, announces a new program called FlyPIT Perks, which rewards travelers when they shop, dine, or park at the airport.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review - Travelers are blurred as they hurry past three new stores, Pinko, Furla, and Tumi, at the Pittsburgh International Airport, Wednesday, June 18, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Keith Hodan  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Travelers are blurred as they hurry past three new stores, Pinko, Furla, and Tumi, at the Pittsburgh International Airport, Wednesday, June 18, 2014.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Signing up

People can register any credit or debit card at www.thanksagain.com/PIT and then use those cards at participating locations and the Airmall. Points and miles automatically accrue. New members will also receive 100 bonus miles when they enroll with a mobile device by texting FLYPIT to 82257.

Source: Allegheny County Airport Authority

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Bobby Kerlik
Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 11:43 p.m.
 

Pittsburgh International Airport officials hope a rewards program that allows customers to earn frequent-flyer miles and other perks when paying for such things as purses and parking will make the airport more attractive to passengers and get them to spend more.

The announcement on Wednesday was made at the airport's core, which had a $10 million renovation, adding several new stores.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has said his priority at the airport is to attract more flights and passengers and that the loyalty program will enhance customer service.

“We have customers who love our Airmall, and they have more reasons to be repeat customers,” Fitzgerald said. “To attract new flyers we also need to have the highest regard for the customer experience at the airport and that's what we want to make sure of — that people enjoy their experience when they use our airport.”

Customers earn one frequent-flyer mile for every dollar spent, or two hotel points.

Jim Gill, acting executive director of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, expected that earning rewards for parking would be popular. He said 7,000 people in the Pittsburgh area are signed up through other airports that offer the program around the country.

“If I was aware of it, I might have signed up,” said Eric Bruno, 41, of Franklin, Tenn., who bought a hat at Lids. “If I knew I was going to buy something anyway and I knew this was offered, I would probably buy it here rather than (outside the airport).”

Bill Swelbar, a research engineer at MIT's International Center for Air Transportation, said airports across the country are trying strategies to prod customers to come back often. Pittsburgh's program seems reasonable, he said.

“Honestly, I think we're in an incubation period for airports that are providing incentives for customers,” Swelbar said. “If customers spend money at the airport, ultimately that lowers the costs. I know that's important to (Pittsburgh International).”

The program, run by Atlanta-based Thanks Again LLC, will cost the airport authority up to $66,000 annually plus a $5,000 launch fee. The costs include a $1,000 monthly program fee, which is waived when there are 50 non-airport merchants signed up to participate. The rest of the cost is from a 4 percent transaction fee with a cap of $4,500 per month. That cost drops to 3 percent once the program reaches 20,000 enrollments within a 75-mile radius, airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said.

Sales at the Airmall slumped after US Airways dropped Pittsburgh as a hub a decade ago but have remained consistent during the past five years. The Airmall was named the nation's best concessions program for a midsized airport by trade publication Airport Revenue News in 2013. Jay Kruisselbrink, vice president of development for concessions manager Airmall USA, said revenue totaled $56 million last year, up 2.2 percent from 2012.

Sales revenue reached $90 million in 2001 when 20 million passengers used the airport. Last year, about 7.85 million passengers did.

Businessman William Krol signed up on Wednesday.

“(The airlines) are making the frequent flyer miles harder than ever, and this is another way to build up your points,” said Krol, of Franklin Park.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. Post-Gazette offers voluntary buyouts in bid to avoid layoffs
  2. Stocks bounce back from big losses to close relatively flat
  3. Muni bond funds stressed
  4. GNC to convert more stores to franchises as sales, profits slip
  5. Kennametal expects to consolidate plants as it shrinks manufacturing in continuing streamlining; profit drops
  6. Ambridge’s PittMoss takes off with help from TV show, Mt. Lebanon native Cuban
  7. EPA ordered to ease limits on cross-border air pollution that involves Pennsylvania
  8. Travelers find direct Web route to Priory’s spirited past in North Side
  9. PPG puts brand 1st in strategy to reach commercial paint market
  10. Range Resources cuts workforce 11%
  11. Urban rentals pit old vs. young