Randy Petersen's Opening Remarks – September, 23 2011

Randy Petersen's Opening Remarks – September, 23 2011

Calls and Intentions

In last month’s editorial, I took on the task of writing an open letter to United MileagePlus in regards to one of the many decisions they are making while integrating the Continental OnePass program. This particular decision is about the OnePass Infinite Elite program. The positives are that I’ve received any number of notes, calls and emails from readers and others praising the stand and my method of communicating how I feel.

And in fact, I was approached recently at a United MileagePlus event in Chicago by several staff members of United who passed along their own comments as well, and I’m glad to lend a hand in helping shape decisions in this area.

But I also received a call from a reader who read it a bit differently. He felt that I should have just sent the note to United like any other member because obviously I was being selfish. He also felt I might have been wasting my time on such a small and narrow issue because “there can’t be more than 20 people with Infinite Elite.” Fair comments and a view from afar.

I’d like to explain something. When choosing to write that editorial, I was not doing so on behalf of Randy Petersen. While I did raise my hand to acknowledge I was a member of the group whose fate is being decided, I’m fairly sure that I have earned into United’s Million Miles and Beyond program and as such, the decision as to whether MileagePlus moves the Continental Infinite Elite program into a higher tier really doesn’t impact me that much.

And I could take issue with anyone thinking that the decision will only affect about 20 people. There are actually a few more things at play here. Foremost, the number of members potentially affected by any policy change around Infinite Elite is in the thousands, not 20 people.

And the real crux for me when choosing to address this is, who is going to help this group along? For the record, I was approached by any number of Infinite Elites starting way back when the potential merger was announced. There was always a level of concern with every member I encountered. Over time those numbers grew and some even banded together to discuss this among themselves.

While I can never represent or put forth a public face on each and every issue that frequent flyers have, I did decide to step forward to make known what I hope is a reasonable and rational concern for Infinite Elites. In the bigger scheme of things, the numbers for this group aren’t extraordinary, perhaps representing just over one percent of the total elites that MileagePlus will have once the programs are fully merged.

For me, the decision to represent this group is less about the absolute strength of its membership than it is to take a look at the implied promises made by Continental and the emotional attachment that has carried this group through all these years–remember, this program is not of the recent past.

So, for the reader who might not have understood the intent and back story of the editorial in support of the Infinite Elite program, I and the others thank you for allowing us one more push in the effort of making a reasonable and rational solution a matter of policy in the new MileagePlus.

And now, I’d like to draw attention to this month’s cover story that was conceived by the editorial staff here at InsideFlyer. Both Lynda and Darcie did their research in determining that not everything is always well with online mileage malls, the subject of last month’s cover story. I’m personally a huge fan of these malls and never start an online shopping experience without first linking through them, and while I don’t follow each and every incident of the offers from all programs, found some of the details of when these mileage malls do not work to be informative even for me.

Ah, the magical month of October. If you are looking for an experience related to your personal choice of frequent flyer programs, head on over to milepoint.com as we have several live chats with executives this month. Southwest Rapid Rewards will take on questions and discuss the integration of AirTran Airways and many other topics of interest to members of Rapid Rewards. As well, I understand we may feature Delta SkyMiles for a live chat this month as well as perhaps both Hyatt Gold Passport–and one that I’m really interested in–United MileagePlus. These are an excellent to ask your own questions of the executives of these programs or simply to read the Q&A. And since they are held in the evenings, it’s an easy effort to log in and participate when there’s just nothing else to do from that hotel room you didn’t wrangle an upgrade from this time. So check out these live chat sessions.

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