On Friday, Sun Country Airlines announced a new rewards program. It replaced the Ufly program, and went into effect Saturday, when the points of all Ufly program members were automatically transferred to a Sun Country Rewards account.

The changes are meant to simplify the rewards process for customers, said Brian Davis, chief marketing officer. He said Sun Country fliers tend to be leisure travelers, not road warriors who may be undaunted by complex reward programs. The program also seems designed to boost brand loyalty and broaden the appeal of the Sun Country-branded Visa.

How is the system simpler? Now, 100 points are worth $1 toward the cost of travel all the time, and there are no blackout dates or point threshold for redemption. Under the retired program, $1 required turning over 130 points during peak times, but 110 at other times. That meant checking — and possibly shifting — dates to get the best value.

Accruing points has also changed, and the new system benefits those who book direct and use the airline’s credit card.

With Ufly, customers earned 10 points for each dollar spent. Sun Country Rewards members earn two points per dollar spent via suncountry.com or a Sun Country agent. Bookings made through other online or brick-and-mortar agents will earn only one point per dollar.

The math looks better for holders of the Sun Country Visa. Starting Jan. 2, when booking Sun Country travel with the airline using the card, fliers will receive an additional three points per dollar spent, for a total of five points. The card will also garner two points per dollar spent on gas and groceries and one point for everything else.

In another change, cardholders will get early boarding, a free premium beverage onboard and 50 percent off seat selection and baggage fees. (Until the change, cardholders and others on their reservation can check bags for free.) The card, free the first year, has an annual fee of $69.

Also, points of active Sun Country-branded cardholders will never expire. For others, points expire after three years.

The changes to a somewhat less generous program will help keep Sun Country flying. Whether it keeps customers happy remains to be seen.

For more details on the new program, go to www.suncountry.com/rewards.


Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.