UA joins AA and DL in making it harder to track your balances

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Roaddoggin, Dec 10, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Roaddoggin

    Roaddoggin Silver Member

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    Per TripIt Pro customer communication...

    "United no longer allows third-party services to access MileagePlus accounts. Starting tomorrow, TripIt Pro can no longer track your United MileagePlus miles, but we'll continue to store your account number for you."

    I suspect AwardWallet et. al. will be blocked in due course, if not already.
     
  2. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Ugh... so I'm sure all the other aggregators are not far behind.
     
  3. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    And don't forget Southwest.
     
  4. TravelerRob
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    TravelerRob Silver Member

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    I don't use any third party services but I'm just curious what the big deal is about this. Is it because you can no longer view all FF account balances on one screen?

    -Rob
     
  5. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    It's a matter of convenience... if you belong to 3-4 programs then it's not a big deal to check the programs individually, but once you go Milepoint Crazy, you start having accounts for Alitalia, Iberia, TAM and all the other programs so you can take advantage of some mileage runs or some crazy sale.

    Next thing you know you're managing 10 accounts for you and 10 for your wife, and checking all that crap by hand is just wasteful. :)
     
  6. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Which was the first to block these sites.
     
  7. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    But only a limited number of folks cared. For obvious reasons.

    Plus with Southwest it matches their history, they've gone after 3rd party sites for a long time (which popped up back in the day to help folks check in as soon as online checkin opened to get in the earliest boarding group)
     
  8. JoeCortez

    JoeCortez Silver Member

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    I'm sure there is a legal reason or something to block the aggregators (legal compliance, fraud, California Privacy Laws, etc.). But I also strongly feel like the airlines are missing a major marketing opportunity. Aggregators have proven to be a dedicated place for frequent travelers to flock to. With a captive audience, they could very easily market up specific upsells to that community. I (still) feel like there's a way to work together here between the aggregators and the airlines.

    But what do we know? We're just the lowly consumers.
     
  9. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    There are legal JUSTIFICATIONS for the threats but certainly no legal requirements that the programs do this.
     
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  10. Roaddoggin

    Roaddoggin Silver Member

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    My understanding, mostly from ya'll's blogs (yes, I'm from Brooklyn), is that at least in the case of AA and possibly DL, they're looking for companies willing to pay license fees to access their frequent flyer data.

    I don't remember where I read this, but I'm certain I didn't just make it up. Does this sound familiar to anyone here?

    I know the airlines say it's their data; the members say it's their own, but the airlines have deeper pockets and attorneys on staff not to mention the ability to change program T&C at will. It's crappy customer service, but not much you can do about it if the airline conspiracy monopoly industry wants to do things this way.
     
  11. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I think the airlines don't get it, and probably never will. I have ZERO problems going to the Delta site or AA or whomever to book a flight if that's going to guarantee me the best price, or the right times, or whatever it is I'm looking for. In this whole mileage-earning game, we've all learned that sometimes you have to go the long way to find what you need, but often come right back to the airline to book.

    But the airlines see the loss of any eyeballs as a bad thing... and the fact that a lot of these sites have been "enhanced" to sell you stuff rather than just track, sort of lends credence to their argument. They don't want you going to TripIt, or AwardWallet, or UsingMiles, or anywhere else while looking at your balances and being presented with any opportunity to book a flight. Hell, if it was up to them you should book your flight, hotel, vacation, cruise or whatever through them... you're on the site already so why not? :)

    But at the end of the day there's not much that we're going to be able to do. I know it would suck if United dropped from all the aggregator sites out there, but unless there's genuine outrage like when they removed the R inventory I doubt anything is going to change.
     
  12. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    It seemed plausible early on that American might be open to commercial relationships in exchange for allowing services to help customers to access their own data. But I haven't seen much good faith negotiating along those lines.
     
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  13. Mackieman
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    Mackieman Gold Member

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    You're right in that the airlines (and companies doing eCommerce in general) like the idea of a captive audience, but they want that audience on their terms, so it makes sense for them to disallow access by third party sites without some level of remuneration involved. What does TripIt offer that UA, AA, or any other airline can't offer on their own site, aside from balance aggregation and the like? Airlines couldn't not possibly find less of a reason to support third party balance aggregation as that does nothing to drive customer engagement or revenue.
     
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  14. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Indeed. I remember the earlier arguments from AA / Delta about impact to the servers or what-not, which were insulting at best. I know they want me on their site, and I don't necessarily want to go... the one thing that they do have though is my balance, and they're using that as a carrot to lure everyone over.

    Personally, the recent changes haven't really forced me to behave much differently though. Now instead of going to one site and checking on everything I curse whenever I remember I have to go to the airline to see my balance, and I do it once a month -- if that. I haven't really started going to AA / DL first to check on flights, so if that was their plan, it most certainly hasn't materialized.

    And I doubt that anybody that uses one of these sites behaves differently. I can't really see the people with 10-15+ programs to check deciding that they're going to change their habits and visiting delta.com first rather than ITA or whatever to find flights.
     
  15. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Yes, they are. And United is no different. This is what I just got from their PR group when inquiring on this issue:

    ETA: Just heard from another site that they were also C&D'd. They are working on their response still.
     
  16. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Many, many things.

    Until an airline is able to aggregate all my travel plans from disparate providers into a single view they're just wasting my time. They have every right to do so, but let's not pretend that any one of their sites is the same as TripIt, even without the points tracking (a feature I don't use).
     
  17. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I guess the good thing is that they're offering the option to access the data, even though not every airline is playing the same game. UsingMiles doesn't have access to AA or DL, but I'm sure if they signed up with UA they figured it was worth the price. Either that or they looked at their users and figured it would be a blow to use United as well so they might as well play ball.
     
  18. JoeCortez

    JoeCortez Silver Member

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    From a purely marketing standpoint, this is where I see it as a lost opportunity for travel providers - or even a financial company that has interest in travel like AmEx or Chase. You have so many ways to bring your travel back and forth, and convert miles and points into so many different things. It seems like a value-added proposition for a airline/hotelier/financial company to be able to aggregate all of that in one place to continue to drive customer loyalty. A chance at an E+ upgrade doesn't excite me. But being able to track an entire reservation in one place, from start to finish, does get me more interested. And with all the partnerships in the three alliances, it seems like this would be something of incredible value.
     
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  19. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Well for companies it's more about expense tracking and accountability than convenience for the users -- as anybody that has used Concur can tell you. :)

    There is pseudo-aggregator functionality in the stuff from Carlson-Wagonlit, but that's more built towards making sure you know what your travel plans are, rather than making it easier for you to manage multiple accounts. Besides, at the end of the day companies rarely have the same requirements as we do... they'll have a handful of preferred airlines and hotels (if that) and all their business will be funneled in that direction.

    But the problem is that outside of the enterprise it's a completely different animal. The consumer wants access to data from a variety of sources, and they're really all competing with each other -- AA would LOVE for you to fly AA meta, no matter what alliances and codeshares they have :)
     
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  20. Roaddoggin

    Roaddoggin Silver Member

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    This is more or less what I remember reading about AA and DL months back. Either it's BS, or TripIt and AwardWallet and MileBlaster and every other aggregator doesn't want to go through the airline's process to get the info. I'm inclined to believe the former (or that the licensing fees being requested are obscene and show-stopping).

    I don't need value adds. I need a safe, comfortable ride from point A to point B. Don't try to bundle in a bunch of other crap. Concentrate on safety, comfort, speed and efficient operations. I don't need you to try to develop the spiffiest iPad app in the known universe. It would be nice to be able to book, check in and change seats. Beyond that, stop. I don't need games or social media from my airline.

    In case there are any airline employees watching...
    I will never book a hotel or rental car via an airline. Stop asking.

    Sorry for the rant.
     
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  21. JoeCortez

    JoeCortez Silver Member

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    We use Concur here at Travel Insurance Services. And I don't mind it. Its kind of rigid...but its not bad. Its easier than some of the paper-and-pen forms I've had to use. :rolleyes:

    Using your example: I agree that UA (becase we're in the UA thread :p) wants me to fly UA metal - there's more revenue earned that way. But UA would also like me to rent my car from their portal, and refer me to my hotel from their portal - as they'll probably get some referal income from those channels as well. So why not make it easy for me to not only track my single trip from their website/app/etc., but also keep my MileagePlus/National Exec Credits/HHonors points in one single location? If I know that I can track all of that in one place, I'll keep coming back to them to fly and fly and fly. The problem that I now forsee (as I put this all in paper) is that Hilton may not play because they want their piece as well. But that being said, they double dip with UA and DL...so why wouldn't they want to retain customers with convenience?

    I feel like I'm getting WAY too deep about this. :confused:
     
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  22. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Would you expect UA to also track your Delta and AA balances and activities? And would you expect Delta and AA to be okay with that? ;)
     
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  23. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Precisely... UA wouldn't mind doing it for you, but Delta and AA would have a problem, just like they do with other sites.

    And I agree that it would be convenient, but only slightly better than it is now. When you think about it, the only thing they MIGHT give you access to is a dashboard to track your UA MP balance and hotel points, but no other airlines. Now assuming that becomes a trend, you'd have to have a similar setup with Delta and AA and who knows where else. The nightmare of having to update all of these if you change your HHonors password for example is enough to deter anybody from trying :)
     
  24. wombat18
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    wombat18 Silver Member

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    Not exactly what you were saying, but I think there's an important point here - whose data is it? I dislike these claw-backs because the airlines are claiming the information about me is owned by them, whereas I feel as though the information about me is partly me. If it is mine, then I can give permission to other people to access it (regardless of where that data is housed). If it is the airline's, then only they can give permission to other people to access it.
     
  25. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    I once booked a Hilton reservation through United because UNITED was advertising that booking a room at Hilton could earn both HHonors points and MP miles. Well guess what... Booking through United's site earns nothing. It is viewed as a third party vendor, so I paid the same as if I had booked directly through Hilton, but I got zero credit.

    For that reason alone, I will never book another hotel through anyone other than the hotel's site for points or Priceline for a deal. I just got mad all over again just thinking about it.

    Car rentals, on the other hand, have been good to me this year. Hertz's 35% discount + 3x miles + Premier bonus + online booking bonus has earned me a lot of miles at UA this year without costing me much if anything. I'll look for that kind of deal every time before going to Priceline to get the cheapest vehicle of the class I need.

    As for the third-party aggregate blockage that is now trending, I hate it. That said, we live in a very short-sighted business world these days. AwardWallet offered me convenience in reviewing my balances. That's it. I can't figure out why AA, DL and now UA won't let me see it all on one page anymore, but it's a PR disaster for them all.

    The only thing I really like about business self-centered activity is how much of an opportunity is has provided for those of us who have chosen to move in the opposite direction. We treat our customers like royalty at my company, and that sets us apart more and more very day. Imagine what a US based airline doing the same thing could do.
     
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