Frequent Flyer Roundup

By | December 30, 2006

There has been a lot of talk about Frequent Flyer programs of late…especially considering the issues in redeeming, since more and more people are accumulating mileage through credit cards, and the airlines are offering fewer seats and raising the amount of miles needed to acquire them.

First of all, a frequent flyer ticket isn’t actually free. As the Consumerist recently commented, you do have to pay taxes on award travel. Airlines may have to transport you, but they don’t want to pick up airport taxes, security fees, and for international tickets, immigration, agriculture, and other taxes. They are already losing a seat they could have sold, they don’t want to have to pay the government for it as well.

For those of you holding miles, reminds you to keep an eye on your mileage expiration. Many programs have been adjusting these numbers and not properly advising their members.
Today in the Sky recently asked the question of whether Elite status in a program gives you real perks, or a “de factor insurance policy against more declines in customer service.” United Airlines, for example, is considering offering fares too cheap to check bags or earn miles…where these would be paid add-ons to the fare. Elite flyers would likely be exempt from such charges, as a reward for their dedication. The Consumerist sums it up with their report on the subject, titled Elite Fliers are Better than You.
Airlines insist, however, that elite perks are meant to reward their best customers, not to allow them to devalue the experience of the average passenger. However, if airlines expect loyalty, they will have to do more than just allow frequent flyers to avoid hassles. They will have to offer a consistent and convenient base product with reasonable perks offered to those who fly more often. It is only when an airline can offer something good to start with that they will get the loyalty they want in order to offer more perks.

Just remember…no frills does not mean bad service.

For the programs themselves, Today in the Sky reminds us that the Department of Transportation’s inspector general issued a report last month in which the grades for airline frequent flier programs were hardly positive. Complaints on the subject of redemption of points have grown to the point at which the government may examine and/or regulate the issue.

Perhaps they shouldn’t offer them at all. The Cranky Flier contemplated that last month, with some simple psychological analysis. We know airlines often consider scrapping them..but the deals with credit card companies are so lucrative that they can make a great deal of money.

Author: Guru

Guru is the Editor of Flight Wisdom and a long time aviation enthusiast.