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Caterpillar Uses Frequent Flyer Currency For Daily Flights

Construction and mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar has found an effective way to automate what for many travel managers is the worst possible nightmare—appropriating travelers’ frequent flyer miles and using them to buy air tickets for others.

To achieve this success Caterpillar is using TravelWare, a third-party company based in Salt Lake City that specializes in tracking and optimizing mileage for corporate clients.

Caterpillar has calculated that it is saving 10% on its air bill by obtaining tickets with mileage rather than cash, with some parts of the business reaping even higher rewards.

Under the TravelWare deal, every flight booked with the company’s agency is automatically queued to TravelWare.

They scan its database to see if anyone in the traveler’s business unit has enough mileage points to pay for the flight. If so, TravelWare attempts to buy the ticket on barter...using that mileage.

One in five of these attempts is successful for a total of 20 flights per day. To further optimize its resources, Caterpillar only uses mileage on more expensive flights which tend to cost fewer points per real mile.