Letters – March, 27 2003

Letters – March, 27 2003

Reading Randy
I read with interest your “Opening Remarks” column in the February issue of Inside Flyer, since I have been a Medallion for the last 12 years, and really respect your opinion. Your last words about keeping your word really struck home, for I have said the same thing about not flying Delta every time they lowered their level of service.

I’ve flown with Delta since they bought Pan Am and Western Airlines, when no one else seemed to be doing so. I flew with Delta over the Atlantic, on planes that were 25-percent full. My oceanic segments usually qualified me for Medallion, mostly Silver, sometimes Gold, and occasionally, like this past Thanksgiving, I would take a trip to Europe just so I could qualify for next year.

My point: I was one of those customers that Delta really seemed to appreciate in the late 80’s through the mid 90’s. In the late 90’s their attitude seemed to change. As times got good, they seemed to forget who put them there. More and more management decisions seemed to disregard their loyal customers. They would reduce the amount of ice cream you get in First Class, but then give their pilots a contract that would pay them much more for working less. They were (and are) tripping over dollars to pick up nickels.

I have written Delta a half dozen times in the past 14 years. About four years ago, I noticed a distinct change in attitude in their responses. They simply do not care. They seem to think that it is enough if they just say they care. They have a business model in their minds that tells them they can make money without caring what their loyal (the elite members) customers think.

Thanks for listening, I know Delta won’t.
Richard Bost

Former Loyal Customer
The following letter was sent to Delta Air Lines.
I guess my latest statement from you guys cuts it. Platinum changes to the same upgrade policy as other medallions.

So, I guess it’s off to Continental for me. After 1,681,344 miles of loyal service, I am moving to another airline because of your upgrade policy.

In one fell stroke of the pen, you have made the Platinum program worth 0 to me. I told one of your execs several years ago if you mucked with the SkyMiles program much, you would lose customers. And you did.

See ya, former loyal customer,
Ken Spencer

Happy At Southwest
I would like to share this information with you and request assistance with communicating to Southwest Airlines how grateful I am for their personnel and for extending the highest level of customer service an airline can offer to their patron.

I am a weekly business traveler, and while exiting a rental car shuttle bus at LAX airport on Sept. 15, I fell and fractured my leg. The Southwest personnel responded to my medical needs with exceptional professionalism and care. Since I am a nurse, I felt confident the fracture was serious and was quite aware of the need for appropriate and timely care.

On my first flight after my recovery, while exiting my flight, I received a tragic call on my cell phone that my children’s father had been killed in a car accident while I was in flight. I was quite devastated and incapacitated. I had taken such a late flight out of Kansas City there wasn’t a returning flight that night. The personnel at Southwest’s response was a gift from God. They responded to me with support and care as if they suddenly became my family. They arranged for my transportation to the hotel (I was unable to remember where my reservation had been made) and made all the necessary arrangements for me to return to Kansas City at 7:00 the next morning when I would need to go to my children and tell them what happened.

I wanted to find an opportunity to thank Southwest Airlines for everything they have done for me this year.
Tamala Shields

Your Comments
I’m a Premier Executive traveler on United Airlines. The recent turbulence at United has discouraged me from purchasing any tickets since September 2002.

When the March 2003 issue of Inside Flyer arrived, every reader letter seemed to imply that the end of the world was near. What a wake up call! If the end of the world is coming, we better take our chances and go to Hawaii. This morning we visited united.com and purchased some vacation tickets to Hawaii (Maui) in July.

Your comments — “I practice what I preach” — were an inspiration. Keep up the excellent work.
Neil E. Johnson

Misled On The Benefits
I think you’re missing one of the biggest trends in frequent flyer programs… the tendency of many airlines to require double miles to claim awards such as Delta’s SkyChoice and Northwest’s Rule Buster awards. Standard awards are becoming increasingly more difficult to find.

I think this is one of the results of the airlines’ bad financial condition and slumping revenues. When you make the customer use double miles for award tickets, this has the effect of making people think twice about using their miles, and tempts them to buy the tickets instead. Therefore, more cash flows to the airline.

I recently attempted to use my Northwest WorldPerks miles (I’m Platinum on Northwest) to fly the mundane Houston to Grand Forks or Fargo, N.D. route during July, and most options involved using double miles for the more convenient times. I ended up getting standard awards but at less convenient times.

I checked Delta.com for travel to Hawaii in First Class over the summer and all rewards offered were the SkyChoice awards. When I checked the airplane seat maps, I noticed that all but two seats out of over 30 were still not reserved. Therefore, they were presumably not sold. The fact that 90 percent of the First Class cabin is still unoccupied but I cannot use my miles for two seats doesn’t seem right. I realize that airlines manage their inventory of frequent flyer seats but something is wrong when you do all that flying and no seats are made available.

It seems like frequent flyers are supremely misled on the benefits of the mileage programs. The airlines have no problem in letting you earn all the miles you want, but try to spend them, well, that’s a different story.
Jon Feiwell

Logging On AT&T
Has anyone heard of or experienced problems in receiving their 10,000 bonus miles from AT&T Worldnet Internet service? A few months ago I signed-up for AT&T Worldnet Internet service and paid as required. However, I never received my miles as per the AT&T agreement and advertisement.

I spoke with three separate AT&T service reps. and received the same answer from all three: “We do not award the miles. American Airlines AAdvantage awards the miles.” They told me to call the AAdvantage awards desk. Therefore, I called the AA AAdvantage awards desk. To make a long story short, Here is a list of complaints I have: (1) AT&T has not paid AAdvantage for the miles; (2) AT&T Worldnet reps. are providing customers with misleading information, by asking me to call AA AAdvantage in order to claim my bonus miles; (3) When asked to speak with a AT&T Worldnet supervisor, the service rep. finds every excuse in the book not to do so, and then when pressured enough, they tell you that a supervisor is not available; (4) AT&T Worldnet service reps. are unable to provide me with a snail mail address, so that one may write a complaint letter; and (5) AT&T Worldnet is not following through as advertised and agreed.

Who knows, maybe if I scream loud and I am persistent enough, I will get my miles and they will change their misleading ways! Is it just me? Please let me know.
Mike Mazur

We Are Not Gadflies
I am writing regarding your comments regarding the “Cockroach” movement at US Airways. We have our own Web site, and have sold over 600 pins to date. My post titled “Help Cockroach on My Lapel” on the flyertalk.com bulletin board got the ball rolling and drew significant interest thanks to the St. Petersburg Times and Mr. Steve Huettal, a very enterprising reporter who tracked me down. What started as an inside joke has turned into a grass roots movement designed to let employees know that we support them and appreciate them despite some questionable management decisions over the years. We remain loyal because of the front line employees, not management. Perhaps that’s why a very large percentage of sales goes to employees. I think that makes us unique compared to the other groups. I hardly think it puts us in the category of “gadflys”; rather, I think it shows that our group by welcoming in the employees has created a unique coalition dedicated to making a good airline better. I am most gratified when a US Employee come up to me and says “thanks for flying and understanding.”

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