There’s nothing cheap about loyalty,” the George Clooney character says in “Up in the Air,” a film about a dedicated mileage junkie. Or is there? Just as air travel has lost its luster in the post-9/11 era of security hassles and foodless flights, airline loyalty programs have lost a bit of their glamour since they were first launched more than three decades ago. Once seen as a way to win the hearts of customers through the novel promise of free travel, today they ...

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