Randy Petersen's Opening Remarks – July, 28 2006

Randy Petersen's Opening Remarks – July, 28 2006

I’m at a loss for words after stumbling across and reading a post on the FlyerTalk.com Web site. Over the years since InsideFlyer started FlyerTalk, there have been a fair number of kudos and posts by members expressing the value that FlyerTalk has given them. And every single comment has been appreciated on this end. But the comment posted by “IceTrojan” on July 12 really got to me; after all, he has only been a member of FlyerTalk for just over a year. The member was thankful for the information that had resulted in his Platinum status with the American AAdvantage program and the “tons of miles” he felt he would not have earned if not for the advice on the Web site.

But the real impact of his post was the comments he made about the impact of fellow frequent flyers on his life. Read his comments and understand how we all learn from each other: “Now, here is a list that I credit FlyerTalk with:”- Interpersonal skills — in learning how to “deal” with GAs, FAs, and phone AAgents, I’ve learned to consciously smile a LOT more, and this has be useful in my non-FlyerTalk life, and definitely has made life easier. I’ve also become even more tolerant of people (with the exception of the TSA, for whom I have zero tolerance now )”- Adaptability — I was “go with the flow” before, but in learning how to deal with IRROPS, I’ve also learned how to reduce my stress in all facets of life.”- Resilience — I use to dread the 10-11 hour flights to Asia. Now, it’s no sweat.”- New friends — I’ve personally met many people from FlyerTalk, and have not regretted it at all.”- New experiences — I have had a goal to visit all 50 states in my lifetime, and now this goal went from taking forever to being within easy reach. I quite like saying, “Oh yeah, I had lunch in Dallas yesterday…” I’m looking forward to booking my first RTW.”- Family bonding — I haven’t taken a vacation with my family in 5 years… now I’m taking 2 this summer, thanks to my miles.”- A JOB — If you follow my posts, I stated that I got a job up in San Francisco. Yes, if you can believe it, if it wasn’t for FlyerTalk, I would NOT have thought to look that far outside the LA area, and would not have been willing to commute by air. But because of this added flexibility, I got a job that a) is a major advancement in my career, and b) would’ve not even been considered last year. “I think that’s enough of an illustration… let it be known that FlyerTalk has definitely enriched my life, especially the members of the AA forum… not to diminish the other forums in any way, but I DO spend most of my time here.

“I just wanted to take a little bit of time to say thanks.”

Now, to switch gears a little, I recently got a nicely written note from a reader who was kind enough to let me know why she has decided not to renew her subscription to InsideFlyer. To recap, she wasn’t happy with the “dozens of laudatory pages about the 25th anniversary” we devoted to the topic in the May issue. She was of the mind that InsideFlyer hasn’t done much for the frequent flyer and that she would rather spend $49 for JoeSentMe.com.

I’ve prepared a reply to her since she did take the time to contact me, and thought I’d share some of my thoughts on how she perceives InsideFlyer. When any reader feels we’ve never done anything for the frequent flyer, I do take it personally. It’s only natural.

I think the public record for some of the things we’ve done over the years is complimentary. Gordon Bethune, past president of Continental Airlines publicly credited InsideFlyer with their decision to roll back elite-level changes in the 90s. United did the same when we took them on in the 90s for introducing Saturday-night stayover and two-week advance requirements for the 25,000-mile awards in the 90s. More recently, Delta SkyMiles has referenced our efforts with SaveSkyMiles.com (we funded and hosted the Web site, etc.) when they rolled back the change to offer fewer number of miles earned for discounted airfares. Even Joe Brancatelli himself credits us with convincing US Airways to reverse their announced changes for the very same thing. I don’t recall a frequent flyer program ever crediting anyone else for any rollbacks to changes within their programs.

And while this reader finds Joe’s advice more to her liking (and as I’ve stated many times before, I consider Joe a friend and a mentor), I do recall that Joe told readers to burn all their United and US Airways miles because those two airlines were not going to make it. On the other hand, InsideFlyer told members to stand pat, and despite the risks, especially for US Airways, we actually preserved members’ ability to have awards to use today. In fact, one might easily argue that the US Airways miles are far more valuable to the average member today because of our advice, since they now have a larger system with America West and the partnership with United and the Star Alliance.

Also, InsideFlyer can take credit for creating FlyerTalk.com, which most consider to be the most influential thing in the industry today. I don’t like to sound like I’m bragging, but I think the facts of just how much InsideFlyer has done for the frequent flyer speak for themselves. For instance, we spent more than $300,000 in getting FlyerTalk up and running over the years. I’m not sure anyone else can claim spending anywhere near that for the benefit of creating value, information and a voice for the frequent flyer.

Want to know more of what InsideFlyer has done for the frequent flyer? Re-read the first part of this column — a frequent flyer influenced by InsideFlyer sees it much differently.

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