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Originally published August 19, 2013 at 11:48 AM | Page modified August 20, 2013 at 11:19 AM

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Spokane passengers can bump up mileage awards

Spokane International Airport’s new customer rewards program gives participants air miles for parking and shopping at airport, and for stays at some Spokane hotels.

The Spokesman-Review

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Frequent fliers in the Inland Northwest can now bump up their airline mileage accounts by joining Spokane International Airport’s new customer rewards program.

Airport officials last week announced that enrolled participants will receive air miles for money they spend on parking and retail purchases at the airport.

In addition, the rewards will apply to dining and lodging at the Ramada Spokane Airport and Wingate by Wyndham hotels.

Other restaurants and businesses outside the airport could be added to the program, officials said.

The new rewards program follows a series of changes intended to improve what airport officials call the “customer experience.”

In the past two years, the airport has started providing free time on its Wi-Fi, eliminated charges for baggage carts, added a cellphone waiting lot for passenger pickups and created a mobile website. The airport staff also has placed rocking chairs throughout the terminal.

“We’ve been focused on improving the customer experience here,” said Larry Krauter, airport director and CEO.

Participating airlines are Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, United and U.S. Airways, with Southwest joining the program this October.

Frequent fliers who use an airline bank card can now earn double miles if they sign up as participants using that card for purchases under the airport reward system, Krauter said.

Participants will designate their frequent flier account when they sign up.

The rewards system began in Anchorage, Alaska, in 2010 and has spread to 43 airports across the U.S., including all of the direct destinations from Spokane.

A company called Thanks Again is providing the network services under a $36,000 annual contract with the airport, Krauter said.

He said he expects the rewards program to be popular.

Denise Vickerman, general manager of the Ramada hotel at the airport, said, “We know customers are always looking for value added to their purchases.”

Marc Ellis, CEO of Thanks Again, came to Spokane last week from his headquarters in Atlanta to introduce the service.

He said participating airports and businesses have seen increases in revenue as a result of the program. He also said large companies whose employees travel a lot are being signed up for the rewards.

As part of the program, the airport will receive marketing reports on the buying and flying habits of participants. That will allow the airport as well as businesses to better hone their services and products to customer habits and needs, Ellis and Krauter said.

To sign up, go to thanksagain.com/GEG or text “FLYGEG” to 82257.

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