Nine years ago next week, B Ben Baldanza tried to shake up the Dividend Miles Program at US Airways by making a game changing announcement: Unless you were traveling on a full fare ticket, your miles would no longer count toward elite status. He actually said. "Someone who flies alot is not necessarily loyal if he always buys the lowest price tickets when he flies. That's not necessarily the type of loyalty we want to reward. We want to reward those people who pay a premium for the services we offer."
The attempt to change the rules of DM, and in particular, the quote above really got under my skin--and the skin of 6 other elite flyers at US. We organized on Flyertalk and began a grass roots effort to let US Airways and B Ben Baldanza in particular, know that from a customer perspective this would not stand. This movement gave birth to what became known as the "Cockroaches", and within 10 days, US rescinded this proposed change, and we moved on to become FFOCUS.
There is a very strong rumor coming out of Chicago that UA/CO is considering similar changes to Mileage Plus for the 2012 calendar year, and it is being as warmly received by FF's as US--if even less so. We think that UA/CO is going down a slippery slope with these proposed changes, and we hope they will take the time to listen to the voice of the customer before announcing the details of the new Mileage Plus.
Below is my post on Flyertalk from yesterday....as Yogi Berra says, could this be "Deja Vu All Over Again"????
We have always advocated that it is better to reward customers who pay more than to penalize those who don't. Mileage bonuses, instant upgrades and other rewards for purchasing higher fares should continue in earnest if their goal is to encourage more spend.
The current rumored changes, while they will certainly weed out some unprofitable customers, will also likely catch some unintended targets in the process. In many cases, corporate travelers are required by company policy to purchase the lowest available fare in a market...and in some cases regardless of airline....but those who CHOOSE to stay with UA but MUST choose the lowest available fare by policy will be penalized by this alleged new program.
New information tools are making it easier for airlines to identify individual travel patterns, which could yield them the ability to balance frequency with revenue when determining elite qualification standards. To rely on either or exclusively at this point will ultimately prove to be a mistake--either for them or for us.
As my colleague SS255 has indicated, our organization was started over a plan alarmingly similar to this one....we can only hope that UA will listen to those of us who can and will speak up, and work together on something which works for everyone.
I am sure our friends at UA/CO will get an earful at the upcoming Star MegaDo 3 when participants meet in Chicago--but don't leave it to them--let UA/CO know how you feel NOW. What we are hearing is that if they in fact go down this path, they may see a significant exodus of customers.....let's help them prevent that if at all possible.