Long term, I've called for the government to require the airlines to collect and report data on their programs' award availability. That's the only way full transparency will be achieved.
Without it, airline passengers' loyalty is just a leap of faith.
Tim Winship is Editor at Large for SmarterTravel , as well as the editor and publisher of FrequentFlier.com, and a frequently quoted expert on frequent flier programs. SmarterTravel provides expert, unbiased information on timely travel deals, the best value destinations, and money-saving travel tips.