Frequent Flyers: It's Tougher to Get What You Want

If you think finding a cheap air fare today is a chore, try lining up a freebie. Last year the airlines awarded 2 trillion new frequent-flyer miles--triple the number handed out a decade ago--yet they haven't expanded the number of available free seats anywhere near that fast. It's no wonder America's 57 million frequent flyers are having a tougher time than ever taking off for nothing.

This fall the airlines are adding a new layer of complexity. As part of three major alliances--Northwest with Continental (still pending), Delta with United and American with US Airways--members will be able to earn miles...

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