Randy Petersen's Opening Remarks – April, 30 2012

Randy Petersen's Opening Remarks – April, 30 2012

Drill, Baby, Drill

In my role as Editor here at InsideFlyer, I spend all my days and time with the topic of frequent flyer miles and points. It makes me happy and I’ve been justly rewarded by following my own advice–and as those know who know me best, I tend to collect and collect and collect. Anyway, I do spend time reading all the affiliated topics concerning the general airline industry and of course travel. In a given year I likely read thousands of newsbites of interest to me. But in the last five years I don’t recall a topic that has me as interested as the recent news that Delta Air Lines is looking to purchase an oil refinery. I’m not sure why this topic just captivates and fascinates me. While it seems that the early coverage of the news is being met with skepticism and scratching heads … and I’m not an expert in the field … but I find this sort of out-of-the-box thinking to be pretty refreshing in an industry that seems to hiccup every time there is any sort of movement in the world oil markets. I’m a few hundred stories into this topic and have watched dozens of local news videos on the topic. The strangest thing for me is that this seems like a reinventing of the industry, and I guess at first glance, I might have expected such an idea to come from one of the upstarts like JetBlue or Virgin America, or frankly, even Lufthansa who has certainly done some out-of-the-box thinking over time. But Delta? For much of their history they’ve followed a fairly industry standard approach, even the acquisition of Northwest Airlines, in an age of other airline consolidations. But oil refinery? It seems it wasn’t all that long ago when fuel hedging seemed exotic in this industry. Anyway, it’s been sort of fun to step outside my box and consider other topics. I for one want to encourage Delta to do the deal if it makes good business sense and really want to encourage it if it leads to fewer fuel surcharges on SkyMiles awards. Okay, I’ve had my fun, time to return to my office and study up more on Avios and its effect on the global currency of frequent flyer miles for British Airways Executive Club. Imagine, an airline owning an oil refinery, what next, a frequent flyer program owning an airline?

These names may not mean anything to you–but they do to me: Brian Cohen, Charles Witt, Oliver Majumdar, Tommy Danielsen, Seth Miller, Gary Leff, Alan Anderson, Ed Pizzarello, Ralf Schumann and Richard Baum. Let me explain. You see, two years ago when I made a decision to take a break from hosting the popular Freddie Awards hosted by InsideFlyer magazine, these 10 individuals along with many others, realized that for the 21 years that the Freddie Awards were around, they enjoyed having their voices heard as frequent flyers through the awards. Without the Freddies, they wondered who would hear their voice? Somehow, these 10 individuals banded together and created the Frequent Traveler Awards, thus continuing a long tradition of the frequent flyer acknowledging and honoring the best efforts of the popular travel rewards programs. They did well. And because of their efforts, they will certainly always be viewed positively by me. Of course the reason is simple. In this day and age when some travelers would like to create a category of ‘Razzies’ for these loyalty programs, there remains the spirit in which the Freddie Awards were created, and that is to honor the best efforts and to promote recognition and reward for those who help to create tremendous value in our lives as travelers. Sure, there are times when we just want to cut up our elite card, but those times are rare compared to the times when we feel appreciated for our loyalty. For two years the Frequent Traveler Awards carried on that voice of the frequent flyer, and there’s a small bit of pride here at InsideFlyer and certainly for me personally, in seeing their effort emerge from the Freddie Awards. After two years, I became comfortable that my goal and need as a mentor and ‘boss’ to my employees was fulfilled with the quality time I was able to give them. So, with a request for some help from some of the Frequent Traveler Awards volunteers, I decided to end the hiatus of the Freddies and it feels good. So regardless of whether the effort is the Frequent Traveler Awards or the Freddie Awards, InsideFlyer is quite pleased for the 24th year, to present the voice of the frequent flyer as we all honor the achievement and efforts of frequent travel loyalty programs from around the world.

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