Blatantly Selling Status-Leading the Way to the Bottom

Discussion in 'US Airways | Dividend Miles' started by Art234, Feb 17, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Art234
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    Apparently US Airways is so cash hungry, and can't find a way to make money from their primary business that they are now selling Status--openly and blatantly.

    http://www.consumertraveler.com/today/putting-elite-status-up-for-sale-—-usair-removes-all-pretense/

    So how long before the elites who earned status the hard way get that they are NOT valued customers, and that they will be fighting for benefits with people who might not even FLY US more than once or twice a year?

    I am trying to give them every possible break, but it seems to me that they should fix the fundamental problems with their operation, like labor discord and separate operations before they keep coming back to us with their hands out.....

    Then again they could merge with Spirit...;)

    Where is the outrage?
     
  2. LAXNRT
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    LAXNRT Silver Member

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    I understand people getting upset about his but then if people who buy status only fly once or twice a year what impact does that have on us who earned status the hard way. Very little I think in competing for upgrades et al.
     
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  3. RedM3Pilot
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    RedM3Pilot Gold Member

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    The article cited above is flawed. US does not sell EQMs...you can buy the status if you want, but you're still at 0 miles. Or if you buy up from Gold to Platinum...the BIS Platinums will still trump you for upgrades.

    No outrage here...not from someone who made Gold through the FREE Silver trial.
     
  4. kellio
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    kellio Gold Member

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    Nothing new here. BIS miles still trump the bought status.
     
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  5. Art234
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    How do you know that? As far as I know they do not differentiate between BIS status and SOLD status. Do you have any information to the contrary?
     
  6. dcpatti
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    dcpatti Silver Member

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    Where's the outrage at AA where you can churn credit card miles in creative ways and earn Lifetime Elite without setting foot on an airplane? At least US makes you make a specific purchase from them, and limits the benefit to one year (or the next program year, depending on when you purchase). And there are definitely some creative people out there who can churn crazy money through their AA cards and still be out of pocket less than the cost of an equivalent status on US. Or where's the outrage on CO where you can pay a fee and collect extra PQM which count towards your status this year and all of next year? Again, at least US benefit is limited in length.

    Yes this may be another step in the race to the bottom but US is not at all alone in that race and actually has some very interesting company there but I don't see as much angst over AA or CO's approach to monetizing status; in fact, quite the opposite, as there's lots of references out there on tricks to get your lifetime AA status without really flying at all. And personally I see a lifetime elite (especially at the middle tiers and up) as a much bigger threat to my benefits than someone who pays their fee for a year or 18 months benefits.

    Also this program has been out there for years. My guess is US' recent facebook/twitter posts with this offer have been picked up by the travel bloggers and such, and it's become a hot topic because of that and not because of its simple existence.
     
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  7. Art234
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    I am not singling US out for this type of outrage. I have stated repeatedly that status should be earned BIS ONLY, not with CC miles, purchases, or any other method other than butt in seat flying. Anything else dilutes the value of the status. US is just blatant about it, and they are in fact leading the way to the bottom.
     
  8. dcpatti
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    dcpatti Silver Member

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    From the US website:

    If you book a discount fare (any fare other than Y or B class), we prioritize your upgrade by Preferred level and within each Preferred level, by the number of Preferred-qualifying miles you've flown on US Airways and US Airways Express operated flights in the last 12 months.

    So a BIS Silver will always trump a purchased Silver, although it is true that a purchased Gold will trump a BIS silver.
     
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  9. dcpatti
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    dcpatti Silver Member

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    How is US more blatant about it than CO who shows you the price for Status Accelerator (or whatever they are calling it) with every single ticket purchase? US has a rotating ad on their website which isn't always there and doesn't always get clicked.

    Are there any posts in other airline forums on the impact of their purchased Elite programs, regardless of the flavor of the purchasing? All I've been able to find are ways to exploit the programs although TBH I have not scoured every forum and every site.

    And why is the outrage coming now when it's a program that has been around for a while? That's the part that really blows my mind. That Buy-Up Preferred rotating ad has been popping up here and there for at least 2 years. My guess is the travel bloggers and travel sites have figured out how easy it is to get people stirred up and passionate on this topic and are using a new spin on an old/existing program to draw people to their sites. I could understand all the coverage if this were something new but to garner this much attention on something that's not "news" just puzzles me.
     
  10. Art234
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    The fundamental issue is that it should not be happening at ANY airline, but US is the poster child for fees, add ons and other "ancillary" charges. If anything they are being more open about it this way.

    There SHOULD be outrage, at EVERY fee and attempt to buy up. I am surprised that there is not more of an outrage over being charged for Choice Seats--THAT one really puzzles me....

    Unfortunately it is a trend in the industry and we apparently have no say in the matter--but we should.
     
  11. RedM3Pilot
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    RedM3Pilot Gold Member

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    [​IMG]

    It is far too easy and lazy for people to single out US when just a little more depth of thought will reveal that pretty much all the ancillary charges are industry standard among the legacies.

    Characterizing US as the biggest villain is disingenuous at worst, uninformed at best. Sorta like the wrong-headed insistence that WN's boarding process is a "cattle call."
     
  12. Art234
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    Absolutely not-they lead the way with fees, and they have fees which other airlines do not--like Choice Seats and phone transaction charges during weather waivers.

    Nothing lazy about it...I am reporting what's in the news, and it is a pattern which US follows quite regularly--stepping over dollars to pick up pennies.

    The fundamental problem at US is they do not value their employees or their customers--these are viewed as liabilities rather than assets..but that's a discussion for another thread.

    I stand by my original comments.
     
  13. dcpatti
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    dcpatti Silver Member

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    When people are angry about something, don't agree with a policy, and so forth, it's very easy to rant on an Internet forum, and it's usually easy to find someone (or several someones) who agree with the rant. The problem is, it spins out of control, which turns forums like this into a free-for-all rant-session rather than a welcoming place to share information; it also doesn't get your complaint heard by the right ears. You can be mad as hell but posting a sensational thread here or on "that other forum" isn't the right way to get the complaint heard.

    If you see a policy that you don't agree with, there's nothing wrong at all with shaing the information but doing so with inflamatory words and tone just encourages others to jump on the bandwagon; if anyone takes the initiative to write a proper complaint, they're now emotional and wound-up, and therefore more likely to send a rant rather than a carefully worded complaint. Someone recieving the complaint is more likely to want to work to make things right when they're not being screamed at. To put it nicely, people are getting wound up and feeding off of each other but I doubt many of them are following up through proper channels; of those that do, I'd imagine many don't get the right level of attention because of the way they're delivered.

    As a US customer I don't feel like I'n not valued; quite the opposite, on most days. I don't like or agree with everything they do, and I take the time and energy to complain, comment and send feedback. And I encourage others to do the same. What I don't agree with is the sensationalism, the inflamatory statements and the jumped conclusions. US must be broke because they're selling status is along the lines of accusing UA of being broke because I can't call in to cancel a flight without being made to sit through the "Would You Like a Rental Car At Your Destination" speech.
     
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  14. mowogo
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    mowogo Gold Member

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    I am actually fine with this, as it gives US a chance to get more money, and also attracts some of the customers who used to travel but never earned million miler a way into elite status without having the pain of non-elite status. They could easily go the United route and allow for you to buy annual passes for certain benefits, or even the complete elite benefits package for an individual flight.
     
  15. But what business are they driving away to "pick up pennies"? All the other posters in this thread seem to be US frequent fliers and not one of them is upset. Plus it's my guess that the number of people who actually pay for status is so infinitesimally small that it doesn't matter. If I'm wrong and I start missing upgrades as a Plat because the FC cabin is full of $4k purchased CP members then I'll work up the energy to be outraged. Plus, as mentioned above multiple times, every other major airline does a version of this.

    We get it though, you think US is the devil.
     
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  16. Art234
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    Not the devil, the bottom of the barrel of majors. It goes far beyond this issue--it goes to management and their attitudes toward customers and employees..

    I have my reasons for my feelings as you do yours. I have had dealings with their management which have been recounted a number of times-they are not honorable people...

    That said, the outward product is much improved, but there is still work to do.
    With regard to stepping over dollars, there is a large group of high spenders who have reduced the amount of business they give to US, and many have left entirely...at last count we estimated about $5 to $7Million in lost revenue a year...while relatively little it is not insignificant.

    And while every major airline does this, maybe they shouldn't.....which is my main point....
     
  17. DeacFlyer1
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    DeacFlyer1 Silver Member

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    Art, I have to totally disagree with the basic premise of your outrage. As a US elite (Platinum currently, on track for Chairman's this year) and one who got there by flying real miles, I don't feel threatened or upset by this in the least. In fact, I think I can even argue that US's practice of monetizing their elite program protects US elites more than elite programs at other airlines. Hear me out:

    First, a frequent flier who is coming over from another airline is not going to participate in this program. They would do the "Trial preferred" program (another monetization that I'm fairly confident you don't support), and (for example) pay $600 for 90-day Platinum status, and then seek to maintain that status through actually flying. I have zero problem with this because A) they're going to be flying US a lot, and would get status anyway if they're doing this; and B) this is exactly what would happen at other airlines who issues "challenges", except that US is actually charging money for their challenge. So not only does it not threaten me, but it benefits the airline at the same time.

    As for the straight-up buy your status, frequent fliers are not going to do this. Why buy status for a year but then have to requalify by flying 100,000 miles or 120 segments when you can do the trial program? So I have to believe that the purchase status option is going to be used by people who don't fly a whole lot. Again, someone who wants to pay a couple thousand bucks for Plat or Chairmans, and then not fly very much....doesn't threaten me at all.

    In fact, in either case, making people pay money to participate in the elite program is in my mind, a clear disincentive to the folks who would threaten me (whatever that means!?!), which are frequent flyers at other airlines switching over to US. This is how I'm saying that these monetization programs may actually be protecting current US elites. For example: If I'm a 1K on United and want to switch to US, US isn't just going to give me Chairman's status, or even issue me a 90 day challenge where if I fly X number of miles in 90 days, I'll retain that status. I actually have to pay for that status, but then still fly the miles to requalify and maintain it. On the otherhand, if I'm a 1K on UA, and I want to switch to AA, they'll just straight up make me an Executive Platinum member. I didn't have to pay any money for that to happen. So who should feel more threatened, or more "outraged" (to use your words)? I would argue the AA elites and not the US elites, because the potential for someone to walk in from UA and start taking your upgrades is greater there than it is at US because of the fact that US monetizes entry into their elite programs.

    So I totally disagree with your perceived outrage over this.
     
  18. Art234
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    DeacFlyer,

    I respect your opinion, and I think at the end of the day we'll have to agree to disagree.

    All I will say is that the more they do this the more they dilute their respective programs, and that they have lost sight of the original purpose of the programs, which was to create and retain LOYAL customers....
     
  19. Kagehitokiri
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    Kagehitokiri Silver Member

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    US lets you buy top tier for $4K. how much might someone spend via mileage runs?

    AA lifetime doesnt extend to top tier.
     
  20. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    i guess it was only a matter of time.
     
  21. dcpatti
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    dcpatti Silver Member

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    Which leads me back to "why are we getting so angry about this now?" On google I can find references to this Buy Up Preferred program as old as 11/2007 and maybe even older. Why's this all of a sudden news?
     
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  22. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    i just wish BA had some program like AA's and at least i would be over the 1MM BA mile mark. that ought to be worth something? although mostly through CC use
     
  23. mht_flyer
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    mht_flyer Gold Member

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    I'm just surprised this is a new article, US has been doing this for several years now.

    Edit:
    Didn't read dcpatti's thread so ditto to her post :)
     
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  24. Art234
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    I don't know why it is considered news, as I had been aware of it for a long time, however, my fundamental objection to this and all similar offers stands.
     
  25. ArizonaGuy
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    ArizonaGuy Silver Member

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    I object to the relatively low cost. This program has been around since at least shortly after the HP-US acquisition. Prior to May 2009 it was over $10,000 to buy Chairman's Preferred status from general member. $2500, $5000 and $7500 for Silver, Gold and Platinum, respectively. Though I believe one single BIS segment had to be flown at one point. If someone wants to give the airline $10,000 in revenue for very little in return, so be it. At only a few grand like it is now I have a bit of an issue.

    Sometimes they send targeted offers - buy up to Platinum, get a free club membership. No big deal. Since upgrade clearing is not a problem for most of us if we pick the right times and routes, it's obviously not an issue.

    In late 2006 US had a promo where everything counted - you could order $5000 worth of FTD flowers for you significant other and nab 100,000 preferred miles. Similar targeted offer returned at 50% PQM's in 2007. They give away 10,000 PQM's for $25K spend on a credit card and the last two years it's unofficially been 20,000 PQM's for $50K. Multiple credit cards? You could get status courtesy of the US Mint in a month back when you could order 99 boxes of coins at a time.

    My point is selling status is no big deal.
     

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