Airline capacity cuts are making it harder than ever to redeem frequent-flier miles for free travel. Fliers have banked some 10 trillion miles worldwide, even as carriers park aircraft in the face of lagging demand. The result is widely differing redemption rates among airline frequent-flier programs. According to a study by IdeaWorks, some carriers are able to fulfill more than 99% of requests for award tickets, while others can accommodate just 10% to 12% of requests.

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