Letters – August, 31 2004

Letters – August, 31 2004

Whose Side Are You On?
I just about flew through the ceiling when I saw Randy Petersen’s remarks about the availability of award flights. Whose side is Randy on: ours, or the airlines? For him to say that the airlines have done a good job of managing award availability is simply not true. For him to go on to say that every seat is available on every flight (if we will just pay an incredible number of miles for that seat) is like a slap in the face.

The fact is, we have indirectly paid for those miles, and to pay double miles just to get on a flight which would otherwise fly out with empty seats — that is shabby treatment of the customer by the airlines. For Randy to act like that is okay suggests to me that Randy is not on our side. I know Randy gets umpteen million miles (or so), so maybe it doesn’t matter to him, but it does to us.

We have heard way too many stories of people calling months in advance, and being told there are no award seats available. That sort of nonsense from airlines is absolutely inexcusable. The airlines should not be holding out the temptation of “free” flights (which are far from free) or award flights, and then yanking the reward away from us when we have earned it. That is outrageous. And we, the traveling public, must be quick to change our loyalties away from such airlines. (However, it must be said that some of us live in areas with limited airline choices for our preferred destinations). And I would hope your magazine would give us information as to which airlines might be guilty of such horrible practices. But Randy and y’all, please remember which side you are on. Either you are going to excuse the inexcusable airlines, or you’re going to fight like hell for us and give us the information we need so we can put bad airlines out of business! This is harsh language, but I think it is entirely justified.

Otherwise, you have a fine magazine, and I just renewed my subscription for another two years. Keep up the fine work. And do I sound like Joe Brancatelli, yet?
Mark Terry

Editor’s Note: Mark, I know Joe Brancatelli and you’re no Joe Brancatelli, yet. To your question about whose side is Randy on? I never realized that you had to be on a “side.” The purpose of the research was not to spout out personal and emotional comments as “fact.” Rather, we entered into the research not knowing what we’d find. It does mark the first time that anyone-USA Today, The Wall Street Journal or any other travel publication or media outlet-actually took the time to test the system. Don’t you find it strange that no one has ever bothered to really check these things out? Anyway, let’s look at facts, not emotions and by the way, I said a ‘good’ job, not a ‘great’ job. Why ‘good’ and not ‘abysmal?’ Well, the fact is these programs gave out more than 30 million free tickets last year and that counts for something. Why not ‘abysmal?’ Well, for starters, for every person that has a problem claiming an award, I’ve found several who have no problems whatsoever. You’ve never heard that? Well, if you’ll look over the popular bulletin board, FlyerTalk, you’ll find many posts by members who state they have no problems with award redemption. Yes Mark, they are out there. Should I simply join the other “travel experts” in an easy to do chorus of “they done me wrong?” Mark, I would think you would expect more of InsideFlyer-we actually did the research. As for the slap in the face by stating that every seat, every day is available for award redemption, just answer this little quiz: is this or is this not a factual statement? Come on, you can do it. As for the “incredible number of miles for that seat” argument, well, that is a matter of perspective. Between 1981 (the advent of these programs) and 1988, every single award ever redeemed for a coach award was 40,000-50,000 miles with the major programs. There were no “saver” awards. During that stretch of seven years, not a single member of these programs ever despaired that 40,000-50,000 miles was an “incredible number of miles for that seat.” Excuse me, but I think some of us may have been spoiled by “the award discount.” And please, my miles matter just as much as yours. The reason I have millions of miles is quite simple: I follow my own advice. And don’t worry about the “harsh language,” it’s acceptable to demand more from us. While I could continue this friendly banter for days, I hope you did notice a few things: we’re the only ones that have ever done actual research on this issue-research, not rethortic. And the results were only for those city pairs identified. Additional research will likely find different results. As you’ll note in this issue, we are continuing with our research and on a monthly basis you’ll see who’s hot with rewards and who’s not.

Thank You
I’ve only been a subscriber since May 2004, but I have to say that InsideFlyer has exceeded my expectations in every way! I wish I had found out about this magazine and the all the benefits it provides years ago. Keep up the great work!
Rick Packo

No More Upgrades in the U.S.?
First of all, as a 1-K member with United Airlines and a Mileage Plus member, I enjoy reading the informative and interesting articles on your Web site.

I recently found this out through corporate headquarters of United Airlines regarding their domestic flight operations: United Airlines is in the process of converting ALL of its domestic flights to Ted, by the end of 2005.

What this means for us 1-K frequent flyers on United Airlines is that there will no longer be available upgrades on domestic flights. This is very apparent on flights presently in and out of Las Vegas, where I live.

Just thought I would pass on this information to you and all of your readers.
Dale Chaney

Cathay Pacific Feedback
I lived in Hong Kong for many years and became one of the first group of Cathay Pacific flyers to gain permanent top elite level (lifetime membership in Marco Polo Club and Emerald-level membership in Asia Miles) after flying 2 million kilometers. This status gives fine “emotional” benefits such as being personally greeted on every flight and priority in bookings, etc. and frequent free upgrades, but the Asia Miles program itself is miserly in terms of awards compared, for example, to United Mileage Plus which I now use extensively since I live in San Francisco. Bottom line: Cathay is an excellent airline to fly that strives hard to recognize and benefit their elite customers, but one should not expect much in the line of award travel from their Asia Miles program.
R.P. Piccus

More Thanks
I have been reading your columns for a while now and I would like to tell you how much I enjoy them. They are so informative and answered the questions I may have had. I don’t really have any questions to ask of you at this time but want you to know I will continue to be a loyal reader.
Tony Inzerillo

Editor’s Note: Tony, it’s Friday afternoon, I’ve had a long week of magazine deadlines and I can sure tell you that this note of yours ends my week on a great high note. I view it as a reminder that these programs aren’t really that easy to fully get all the benefits from and that I play an important role for our readers. Again, thanks, and I sincerely hope that your summer was the best summer ever.

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