Update on the 2011 Plan... "Fly the Trip"

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by 1KMM, Nov 7, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. This year, I've significantly modified my thinking about loyalty and affinity, and it has impacted my travel patterns a lot. As a continuous 1K since 1992, I've always given United virtually 100% of my business, even if it was nominally less convenient, like taking a connection or a less desirable flight time. The benefits of status outweighed it.

    Since that is no longer the case, and will clearly be deteriorating further, I vowed to myself this year to simply "fly the flight." That means taking the airline that works best for me, based on schedule, pricing, and the elite benefits that I don't have to roll the dice to get. The results have been positive and interesting:

    1. I am a pass plus secure contract holder, so on my very frequent LAX-JFK flights, UA still gets almost all of my business. Until that contract expires (or longer if the new program is about as good), they will continue to get that business.

    2. When traveling with family on non-award travel, everyone likes Virgin America, and I can often upgrade to Main Cabin select for a fair enough prices. That's worked very well for my South Florida travel.

    3. For other business travel, I've flown American & Delta several times each this year. It was a good experience in every case. Even in economy, I minimize my time on the plane, and I've bought first class several times, plus the odd upgrade. First Class is in many ways better than the UA/CO domestic product on both.

    Bottom lining it, United lost about 40% of my travel this year, and about 50% of my spend. Depending on what they do with Pass Plus Secure in 2012, it may increase. I don't angst about them anymore... they're just another vendor. They gave up affinity, and so did I.

    As a side benefit, all my travel planning happens a lot faster.
     
  2. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    kudos for taking the time to rethink and adjust, I know I used to be brand blind to what else was out there.
     
  3. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    I think most people would agree that if loyalty programs weren't a factor and VX had all the routes that the legacy boys do, VX would get all the traffic. However, VX doesn't go everywhere and doesn't have aspirational rewards nor elite benefits... which is why many of us will keep flying the legacy carriers until Sir Richard significantly expands the network.

    Too bad all the Virgin programs aren't connected... That would be a loyalty program worth earning points with.
     
  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Hi 1KMM, interesting post! How many status miles do you expect to have earned with each program this year?
     
  5. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    I appreciate your post 1KMM. I have been hanging on this year being the true internal optimist just hoping the new UA will keep the things I appreciated most and merge it with the good things CO had going.

    But yesterday I just finally had enough and will not keep my loyality to UA anymore. It's sad for me because I enjoyed so many good years being a 1K with UA. But it's the new UA which decided to no longer be loyal, not me. And just like a previous marriage of mine, it hurts to go through the divorce, but once it's over life goes on and things work out better than planned.

    I still will make 1K this year but will focus on opening up my eyes next year to other airlines. I know from experience that the grass is not always greener on the other side, but maybe there is an international airline that would enjoy having me, and treating me, as a good customer.

    John
     
  6. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    1KMM, would your outlook have changed if you were not guaranteed some status b/c of your MM? My problem about "flying the trip" is that I will not get status anywhere if I do that, and even though 1K and 1P aren't quite as good as they used to be, it's still better than no status at all. Did you make status on any of the other airlines this year (VX, AA, DL)?

    BTW, I love the LAX-JFK P.S. flights.
     
  7. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    Personally, I can easily make the switch next year because I have status from DL & AA. I was lucky in that I was gifted DL Gold and got AA Plat via status match through a corporate agreement.

    But even if you don't have status on DL or AA, if you believe that they will keep the 100% mileage bonus at the 50k level, then even losing the 50% bonus on UA as a 1P for 1 year would be worth it in the long run earning it from AA or DL. Now if you are a 1K, it's probably a different story.
     
  8. I've got about 110K status miles on UA this year, will probably get another 10-15k before the year is over. If they had earned all of my business, it would be about 175K. But here's the thing... it barely matters. Status is, for now at least, only marginally useful on any airline.

    If Pass Plus Secure returns in reasonable form after my contract expires, I'll renew it and use it for LAX-JFK, unless another airline decides to steal United's lunch money on this route. The booking in Y class means I can almost guarantee an upgrade, and if that ends, I'll wind up paying more for business and end the upgrade roulette. And if Pass Plus Secure doesn't come back in reasonable form... well, someone will want my business. Sometimes I'll pay more, sometimes less. That's life. But the notion of loyalty to a vendor ended when they essentially ended their useful loyalty to me.

    I think other airlines are watching what UA is doing, and are working through their own plans. My guess is that we'll see a number of opportunities for "freelance fliers" to take advantage of premium classes at quasi reasonable fares, and get the other benefits of status without taking a loyalty pledge. Since a lot of my highest revenue travel is last minute and unpredictable, someone other than UA is likely to benefit from this, although I'm happy if UA does too. All they have to do is beat their competition. Routes, fares, schedules and amenities, in more or less that order.

    The loyalty system has turned into a shell game, and like most such games, the guys moving the shells around tend to be the only ones with enough information to prosper. Sometimes the only way to win is to simply decide not to play.
     
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  9. sithlord
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    sithlord Silver Member

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    I hope all high revenue ,ugs,and ua mm all go to aa . Legacy co passengers are very happy.
     
  10. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Too be honest, I am one of those who doesn't like VX (yes, I've flown with them). Given my knowledge of other people's preferences, I am sure they are great. Other people also like bagels, Twitter, and reality television. But I am a curmudgeon who finds the whole experience annoying. I'm actually kind of glad that VX and WN exist to take those people off my UA flights. As long as we're all happy, that's good in my book. :cool:
     
    Flyer1976 likes this.
  11. I have a trip to London planned for February. In past years, I'd just book UA in economy with either available upgrade space, or operate from the presumption that I would clear with a SWU. But, lowest upgradable fare on my dates is just under $1200, and requires a connection in each direction to confirm the upgrades. So I looked around, and Air New Zealand has premium economy for about $1300, with 150% EQM using my OnePass number, non stop flights that are timed just right for me. Refundable, though with $300 penalty, if a big biz class sale opens up. Unfortunately not upgradeable. But still.

    Sorry, United. Better luck next time.
     

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