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What are the issues? Do you believe their study findings are valid? What concerns do you have, or what alternative explanations do you have for the results that they found?
Frequent-flyer programs are loyalty programs offered by many airlines. An airline customer who enrolls in a frequent flyer program is assigned a unique ID (often embossed on a membership card) which enables the airline to record his or her airline-related travel activities (e.g., flights, spending and accumulated miles) in its database. The customer receives program points (often based on some combination of miles traveled, flight segments and dollars spent) that can be redeemed for air travel or other goods or services. Based on this data, airlines often "tier" customers based on their level of activity (e.g., miles flown), and customers in higher tiers (e.g., "Gold") receive additional benefits such as upgrades, airport lounge access, priority bookings, etc. Frequent flyer programs enable airlines to track their customers, reward loyalty, and provide better services to their best customers, and are intended to incentivize customers to make extra efforts to reach the next tier.
An airline wanted to find out whether customer participation in its frequent flyer program affected the number of miles they traveled. For its study, the airline measured the number of miles traveled in the 12 months before and in the 12 months after each customer joined its frequent flyer program.
When the airline compared these numbers, it found an increase in the number of miles customers traveled after joining its frequent flyer program. The airline concluded that participation in frequent flyer programs leads to an increase in miles flown annually.
1- What are the issues? Do you believe their study findings are valid? What concerns do you have, or what alternative explanations do you have for the results that they found?
2- What would you do? Describe what you would do to improve their study design.