Randy Petersen's Opening Remarks – July, 20 2012

Randy Petersen's Opening Remarks – July, 20 2012

Business as Usual or Funny Business?

First of all, thank you to all the readers who reached out to ask how we were during the recent and very sad events that Mother Nature unleashed here in Colorado Springs. Fortunately, the House of Miles is on the opposite side of the city from where the forest fires reached the neighborhoods. We’re all good and we as a community are rebuilding after the damage.

This month, I have a comment about a typical business topic and a comment about funny business–you be the judge as to which is which.

A recent news item humored me to no end and reminded me yet again that there are no boundaries to either the importance of miles and points to some and the leverage they can have in the public domain. The Austin American-Statesman newspaper reported that a woman recently was set to sue the Texas School for the Deaf because the school has a policy of keeping the Rapid Rewards points earned on Southwest Airlines flights her daughter took to get back and forth from her home to the school every weekend. The school (which is state funded) pays for the flights of students and says that they save $30,000 a year keeping the points, which can be used to help pay a teacher. The school also maintains that they have the right to pool the bonus points earned to offset some travel expenses, such as paying for chaperones to fly with students.

The mother says that the points belong to her daughter because the school’s policy violates a policy by Rapid Rewards. The school says that they do not violate the policy because Rapid Rewards says points can be used by others.
True, but it is not evident that the daughter provided a signed power of attorney to the school for such action, meaning that unless it could be proven that the school was the actual legal guardian of the student in question the mother may have a proper argument here. However, the rights of parents and the responsibilities of a state-run school are at odds in the way this case has run its course.

The mother was also suing the school because she said school officials violated her daughter’s privacy rights by continuing to provide confidential information, such as her daughter’s home address and phone number, to the airline when they bought her daughter’s tickets, even after she requested they stop.

Furthermore, she was asking for damages to cover the cost of moving from El Paso to Killeen, closer to the school, to avoid the conflict in the airline policy and that of the school’s. She was also seeking compensation for emotional pain and loss of privacy.

After the filing of this last part to the case, the news of it placed the case in the court of public opinion which tried the case with the mother getting skewered from most who commented on its merits. Some saw the mother as “greedy”, others said “get a life” and still others seem to think that the school was overstepping their boundaries.

The latest news from this lawsuit is that the attorney for the mother suing the school is suggesting she drop the proceedings. According to the attorney as reported in the Austin American-Statesmen, because of so much publicity, “There is no real reason to go forward with it. It’s already been tried by the court of public opinion.”

You now know what I know, what say this court of public opinion?

Now, on to my regularly scheduled type of topic. Note if you will that the buzz around Delta and/or US Airways changing their frequent flyer programs to some sort of revenue-based model similar to Southwest and a few others has taken a summer break. (I don’t expect that to continue.) These rumors have been replaced with the almost constant topic of American Airlines and their bankruptcy proceedings including the latest that CEO Tom Horton has now announced that he’s open to the idea of a possible merger. This topic has been the one to watch because it’s not about American Airlines, it’s about the seemingly desperate language from US Airways’ CEO Doug Parker who says that the only way these two airlines can survive is by merging to compete with the giants, Delta and United. One could read into Mr. Parker’s comments that maybe US Airways won’t survive either. While I’ve been known to pick on US Airways for some of their absolutely horrendous frequent flyer program decisions, I would still back Mr. Parker to run the combined airlines should it happen. I’m clearly a fanboy of his ability to run the bigger airline and hope that the frequent flyer thing will find the safe landing it deserves.

This is now scheduled to run as a topic until Dec. 28 when American Airlines has to come up with their restructuring plan. I’m now guessing that it won’t make it that far, which leaves me just enough for next month’s Opening Remarks.

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