60 Seconds with US Airways Dividend Miles (Ben Baldanza, senior vice president, Marketing; Barry Biffle, managing director, Marketing; and John Reistrup, manager, Dividend Miles).
Fares seem to be the theme these days. But where is Dividend Miles in the transformation?
We think there is a better answer out there, an answer for our members: we can get them to lower fares but not have to give up the frequent flyer program, the ability to upgrade, to be part of a worldwide alliance. That is what we’re trying to create.
In terms of Dividend Miles, is there a 2005 plan for Dividend Miles, or is what you’ve got working for you right now?
We don’t have anything on the horizon.
I hope people will put everything into perspective to what we are trying to do here, which is to create a great consumer airline that has a great value proposition and doesn’t make them not get an assigned seat, that does not make them go to all coach, pull out of transatlantic routes. That’s the mountain we’re heading toward. In between there is turbulence in the press reports. We just hope that some people can keep it in perspective.
Are any of you surprised at the attention and madness that frequent flyer miles receive?
To some extent it’s natural. The frequent flyer balance represents your investment in an airline. You earn the miles to be able to use down the road, if you think that down the road is cloudy, or you have a choice of where to spend your dollar, people start to think. I do think there is a feeding frenzy. People like to write about hysteria, all the things that could go wrong. What frustrates me is that people are writing about what could go wrong but what we’re doing is something everybody should like. Articles that say ‘dump your miles’ are not helpful. They just fuel the nervousness.
Where do you think redemption is right now?
It’s up 13 percent year-to-date, a slight increase. More people are redeeming on US Airways than our partner. That’s good news.
Your true frequent flyers aren’t going anywhere. But these programs can turn ugly, can’t they?
Yes, and that’s why we’re staying out in front of it with the communications aspect. We’re just keeping everyone informed.
You seem to be managing Dividend Miles the same as you always have, even in your best years.
That’s right. The people who hold miles are invested. We want to extend every convenience we can to that group, and for them to know that we’re here for the long term, and we’re making the kinds of changes they will like.