Opening Remarks – November, 19 2012

Opening Remarks – November, 19 2012

Starting at the End

Do we start at the end? Do we start with the possible long goodbye to US Airways? Or perhaps a long goodbye to American Airlines? Given the continuing challenges of American Airlines, their recent totally unexpected problem with loose seats on several of their planes, angry passengers and their generally damaged reputation, it looks more and more like the conversations between PHX and DFW are all the more important to both airlines.

I suppose we could end up with both brands co-existing a la KLM and Air France. But something will likely have to give if indeed this possible merger gets moving. Recently, American asked for yet another extension of their “exclusivity period” to reorganize and it is likely that the judge will grant that, but given that would be the airline’s third extension, it does not bode well.

However, if we believe in the Mother Nature rule, we would believe that the scheduled chat between American and US Airways was interrupted by Hurricane Sandy for a reason–either to give the two more time to think or a sign that the merger was not meant to be.

Regardless, something is going to happen and it may not be all about these two airlines. At a party recently, friends asked (two different sets of friends actually) about the possible merger of American and US Airways. I do not consider myself any more knowledgeable about general airline mergers than the next passenger, but please don’t do anything irrational with your miles in either of these two programs as there is absolutely no need to rush to panic.

While I remain confused about the rationale behind the recent end of grandfathered miles from AAdvantage, I’m convinced I can live with whatever happens with miles fully vested in each program. However, I will remind readers that I do expect some unexpected changes to come from some of these programs and I would not be surprised if it came from one or both of these two airlines and their frequent flyer programs.

Can someone tell me what the theme of 2012 was for travel loyalty programs? Fact is that I don’t know myself. When I look back at the year, there just does not seem to be anything that really stands out. Sure, there are the merger talks referenced above between American and US Airways, but heck, there have been merger rumors annually for the last 10 years. Kind of boring. A bonus offer here and there, a few large credit card offers but those have become so repetitive that they no longer shape the future of the industry. The only topic I can recall which really had me researching, and figuring out a good strategy for our readers, was the buzz about a few more airlines adopting the revenue-based model for their frequent flyer schemes. It didn’t happen and I suppose not because no one was trying. That’s about the only topic I can recall that gave me, and you as fellow frequent flyers, a different topic to consider in the earn and burn equation regarding which program remains best for us.

So at the end of yet another year with you reading me and me listening to you, I bid you a most wonderful series of holidays that will re-charge us from travel in 2012 and then charge us up for travel in the new year. I hope to see some of you out there somewhere as I have travel every week for the remainder of the year. If you see me–I’m the one always in need of a haircut–give me a shout out and let’s talk.

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