Frequent travelers have a variety of ways to rack up perks: frequent flyer miles for using the same airline, an airline-branded credit card, hotel perks when you book with the same brand and even rental car perks. Now frequent travelers have a new source of perks – the airports. Yes, even the airports are getting into the travel bonus business.

Kelli Grant with CNBC reports that, “More airports are adding their own incentives for frequent travelers, including discounted parking, exclusive lounges and bonus airline miles on in-terminal purchases. It's a way for airports to compete against each other as airline consolidation shifts routes and raises prices.”

Don’t get too excited if you typically fly out of major airports like LAX or LaGuardia, most of the rewards programs are cropping up in smaller regional airports that are trying to woo passengers. 

After reading Grant’s report, I decided to check out my local regional airport, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Gateway used to be Williams Air Force Base but when budget cuts closed the base in the early 1990s, the community was left with an eyesore. Eventually the area turned into a new satellite campus for Arizona State University and a commercial airport.  

Unfortunately for travelers that use Gateway, there doesn’t seem to be any loyalty programs in place. The airport is only about a 35-minute drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor, perhaps that is too close for it to compete for flyer’s attentions with something like a loyalty program. 

I live much closer to Gateway than I do to Sky Harbor and I’ve never even considered using the regional airport instead. I don’t see the benefit, honestly. Maybe if the airport offered a reward program, though, my husband and I would consider using it for business travel. Perhaps the regional airports that offer frequent traveler perks are on to something.

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