If you take a delayed United Airlines flight and want compensation for your troubles, you may need to ask for it.
In the world of airline loyalty programs, many are waiting for the other shoe to drop: Will American and Delta raise requirements for earning airline elite status?
United last month changed its 2020 loyalty program to push up the annual spend requirements for top-tier status dramatically from $15,000 to $18,000 or even $24,000.
The move comes only a few years after all three carriers aligned and shifted to loyalty programs in which a flyer earned elite status not only by distance traveled but also by the size of her pocketbook.
Then, last year, the carriers raised the requirements for top-tier qualification from $12,000 to $15,000. (Delta, notably, was already at that mark.) Just as the legacy carriers fell into line on a strategy around spend, now it seems only a matter of time until American and Delta follow United on its current path of ratcheting up the requirement yet again.
If that does happen, it’ll be the end of an era for budget travelers, who often — if not more often — were just as loyal to airlines as their deep-pocketed peers. Right now $15,000 is a high hurdle to jump on a diet of monthly $300 tickets to San Francisco and the annual holiday to Hong Kong or Barcelona. Bumping up that figure to $24,000 is aspirational to the point of delusional, like staring at a GT3 through a showroom window or gushing over foie gras foam at Alinea.
Times have changed. As seats become closer to one another, overhead bin space goes to the highest bidder, and revenue is prioritized over loyalty, each year it becomes harder for the common traveler to earn elite status. In many ways, the heady days of mileage runs and qualifying mile bonuses and last-second upgrades have gone the way of the 747.
Strategically, loyalty is also now embedded deeply into corporate strategies — and as we move forward, it makes sense to mix that content into the proper airline, hotel, or other industry beats.
Keeping loyalty inside of our respective sectors ensures that we write stories that focus on business strategy and marketing. It adheres loyalty more closely to Skift’s B2B mission.
The Centre for Energy Policy and Technology at the Imperial College of London last month suggested that to curb future carbon emissions, a frequent flyer tax should be considered instead of a frequent flyer incentive. Looking at the world today, maybe it’s not a bad idea. Perhaps in 20 years when my son takes that trip to Mombasa, he’ll go by ship instead of by air.
By: Grant Martin
United will offer a first-class cabin in a 50-seat jet when it launches flights on its Bombardier CRJ-550 fleet starting Sunday October 27, 2019. Continue reading United reveals unprecedented regional jet
Many U.S. road warriors have given up on the frequent flyer miles awarded by airlines. For all but the most profligate spenders, miles are tougher than ever to earn from flying, and they’re not so easy to redeem. Continue reading United Airlines Simplifies Seat Upgrades With Points Incentives
United Mileage Plus members no longer have to worry about their frequent flyer points expiring. Continue reading United Ending Point Expirations for Mileage Plus
Bus drivers might hold the door for a sprinting late arrival. Gate agents at the airport? Not a bet most passengers would want to make. But you just might catch a break on your next United Airlines flight. United is trying to get smarter about figuring out when planes can afford to wait for passengers with tight connections so that they aren’t stranded mid-trip. Continue reading Tight air connection? Your next United flight might wait for you
By fall, United will extend to all hubs its usage of a data tool designed to reduce the number of missed flight connections. Continue reading United Airlines Extends Use Of Flight-Connection Optimizer
Back in 1972, the United Nations established June 5 as World Environment Day in an effort to raise awareness of the various harmful ways humans affect the planet. This year, air pollution is the theme. Continue reading Airlines Roll Out Green Schemes to Boost Environmental Credentials