United Airlines recently discontinued the Silver Wings Plus membership-fee-based travel program for customers 55 and over. Silver Wings Plus offered savings through zone fares for the members and their traveling companion plus other perks such as bonus miles. Jeff Kovick, United’s Public Relations, said that discontinuing the program was part of the company’s efforts to control costs, optimize revenue and to focus on services United’s customers find most valuable. “We thoroughly analyzed customer response to this program and found that less than one percent of our customers were affected by this decision,” he said. Lifetime members of Silver Wings Plus will continue to have unlimited access to zone fares and members who joined before September 2005 will retain access to zone fares.
United is not the only program to discontinue a senior program. Hilton HHonors recently discontinued its Senior HHonors program that offered, among other perks, fast-track to Gold VIP status with half the required stays. The official end date for the program is July 31, 2008. In a letter to Senior HHonors members, Hilton referenced “declining membership” as the reason for discontinuing the program.
Editors’ Note: Discussions on FlyerTalk pondered whether these programs have ended because of lack of interest — or the potential baby boomer bomb if everyone of that age decides to take advantage of the discounted fares/rooms. It’s a valid point and makes one wonder.