It sure does not look like any airline really gives a hoot about the customers who fly them regularly. I just blogged a week or so back about how, as a Star Alliance member, my choices and benefits were divided by thirds and partially removed because of the American Airlines merger with US Air. I have no more access to the old US Air clubs and many cities that were Star Alliance hubs have just vanished for me.
Well, American Airlines today just made the new merged airline worse for those flyers trapped with American (people who flew from US Airways hubs). Take a look at this:
No more blackout days for redeeming miles on US Airways, matching the policy at American.
- For U.S. travel on or after June 1, American members can redeem miles for an unrestricted “AAnytime” award at 20,000 miles, 30,000 miles or 50,000 each way instead of the current 25,000-mile flat rate. The less-flexible “MileSAAver”awards will continue to start at 12,500 miles.
- Mile requirements will change on many international trips.
- There will be no more free checked bags for American Airlines passengers traveling on miles they earned or who paid full price for an economy seat.
- Some elite-level frequent fliers on both airlines will get to check one less free bag than before.
- The charge for a second checked bag on trips to South America is being dropped.
Does it not seem a bit arrogant to pull benefits and obligations from the same flyers that routinely pay your bills? Who can afford this total disregard of customers? I’ll tell you who…MONOPOLIES. And the airlines are just that. They don’t care because, as flyers, we have no choice.
Fly out of Newark, Dulles, O’Hare (they have two choices), Houston San Fran, LA, or Denver and you are OWNED by United. Fly out of Atlanta or Minneapolis and Delta owns you. Fly out of Charlotte, Philadelphia, or Dallas and American owns you. They can make any decision they want and the market is still indentured.
So step up. Will one of the airlines understand that what looks like a self inflicted wound by expanding frequent flyer benefits would have the same positive impact that CVS got from banning cigarette sales? Sure it looks as though it hurts profits, but in fact it says that customers matter. That being a provider of hospitality is really what you are. Transportation is simply how you dimensionalize it.
So United and Delta, will either of you step up to the plate and declare on the side of your customers and, more importantly, your prospects? Give equal status based upon the most recent American Airlines status and throw in a few more perks that says you are starting a war for our branded hearts? Would I drive 50 miles to a different airport to take advantage of it? You bet. Flights are so bad right now that half of my connecting flights are delayed or cancelled anyhow. I’m up for it. I would love to know that someone in the industry gets it.