What is the percentage of women who have top-tier airline elite status?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by Daniella, Dec 27, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Daniella

    Daniella New Member

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    Hello, I'm trying to find some info about the percentage of women who have elite airline status. The Wall Street Journal ran an article last month which included data about the percentage of women within various frequent flyer programs but it doesn't say anything about elite status.

    This is for my blog about women in business. My personal experience is that I'm often the only executive woman in the airport business lounge and then later on the plane's business section. I often ask airline personnel but have never received a response. Does anybody know or have suggestions for how to figure this out?

    Thanks,
    Daniella
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    My impression is that one sees more women (as a percentage of passengers in the cabin) in domestic FC cabins than in the past. This would seem to be some evidence that the percentage of women among elite FFs in legacy USA carrier FF programs is growing. I would genereally expect the fraction of elites who are women to decline at higher tiers.

    Anotherr bit of weak evidence that women are joining the elite ranks in larger numbers is to look at the fraction of full time employees who are female in positions that involve heavy travel.

    I don't know of any airline that makes upgrade lists including first names visible to non employees of the airline, but if the computer or screens at airports were to include first names, this might be a way to roughly count, although the fractions could be highly route specific. Before things were automated, you could stand near the GA's podium in an airport and count how many men and women were called up for upgrades to estimate fractions in the elite tier most likely to get gate upgrades, assuming that you could distinguish such passengers from standbys and those needing (new) seat assignments.

    Most airliness seem to consider data on the demographic characteristics of their FFers to be confidential, so I would not expect the numbers you want to be published or otherwise disclosed.

    A few hotel chains advertise women's floors. They might be willing to share data on the fraction of women among their elites and business travelers as a way to promote these programs.
     
  3. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    ADDED: How about going to an airport and counting men and women who use the elite check in and security lines? This would indicate the fractions among the elite tiers eligible to use such benefits, weighted by the numbers of flights taken at different elite levels.
     
  4. FlyingBear
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    FlyingBear Silver Member

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    Not sure if that's the best method, I see a decent number of non-elites going through that way in the airports I've been to. Also, if it's a family or couple traveling, how do you know whose status it is?

    I do like the rest of your big list of detective type of work to do though :) I had the same question as OP come up just out of curiosity while I was in a lounge recently. I counted all of one woman versus a few dozen men. Obviously there are very many reasons for that, but to me it is also indicative of the glass ceiling not being quite as extinct as many would like to believe.
     
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  5. Daniella

    Daniella New Member

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    Thank you both for your comments. I won't stand near the elite check-in lines, we already know the percentage is very low just from general observation. I have a feeling it's somewhere around 10%. But I will check with those hotel chains and also submit a question to some airline PR reps, I doubt I'll get an answer but it's worth a try.
     
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  6. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    @ JFK this past Tuesday, the Sky Club agent specifically thanked me for being a "woman DM" and said she did not see many of us. That said, I know we're out there! ;)

    I often find I'm in the minority amongst those boarding with elite tags attached to their carry on.
     
  7. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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  8. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    What is the percentage of women who have top-tier airline elite status?
    The question as framed can be easily answered: same as the percentage of men,
    pretty much, which is to say zero.

    Your meaning, though, is clear. What is the percentage of top-tier airline status
    holders who are female. Though the criterion seems straightforward, it isn't. To
    take my most frequently used airline as an example, you might be referring to
    - Global Services - the semisecret high-spend elite;
    - 1K - the most frequent fliers;
    - Star Gold - the two above plus Platinum and Gold;
    - to draw any useful conclusion you might also use all Premiers as the sample.

    Taking MSP's excellent analysis as a starting point:
    paragraph 1 - I believe but cannot prove that MSP is correct.
    paragraph 2 - this might be so but would change the focus of your study,
    which might be a good idea anyway. I.e., to investigate the number of
    women in these levels of various professions: the data would be more
    accessible, and I believe the results would have more utility. Your
    study as framed doesn't seem to be as useful as it might be.
    paragraph 3 - if you seem heartset on this general line of inquiry, you
    might enlist the membership here to serve as your information gatherers.
    It'll all be anecdotal, but you could ask people to count F pax on their
    flights. I will start by estimating that on UA I see about 25% women in
    F, on US, quite a few less, probably 1 or 2 per cabin on average. The
    numbers will be skewed by nonrevs, award redeemers, and so on.

    Counting elite lines would be a useless exercise unless you were bold
    enough to actually interview everyone in the queue. Access to these
    lines is usually not limited to top-tier elites or in some cases elites
    at all.

    paragraph 4 - I fully agree with MSP but also agree nothing ventured,
    nothing gained.

    paragraph 5 - I know nothing about this.
     
  9. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    United has a Global Citizenship initiative that includes a supplier diversity program. The officers in charge of the program are listed on the website. While I would be surprised if they knew the answers to your questions (or that they would be allowed to answer if they did) they may be able to point you to people who can answer or to publicly available information related to the subject. My own personal experience suggests that Premier flyer diversity is up from only a handful of minority or female FFs 20 years ago to a much higher (but still modest) percentage today. Adding to their numbers (but perhaps adding to the confusion) is the companion benefit in the Million Miler program. My wife is a Platinum this year through this program, but would have made silver on her own.
     
  10. Daniella

    Daniella New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your input and advice. I gave up on a dedicated post about this for my blog due to lack of data, but I did add some thoughts about it in a general blog. In case you're interested it's at daniellaalpher dot com/2013/01/02/2013/ (sorry I'm a Newbie so can't post a link yet). It's a general post about career women but the travel part is in the second half.
     
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  11. Laptop Nomad

    Laptop Nomad Silver Member

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    Just to give my two cents I have a close friend who is working on the 3MM mile mark with sky team. She is sitting around 2.5 as of last count. She is also lifetime Platinum with Marriott. So there are some very super elite women in the elite ranks.
     
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  12. FlyingBear
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    FlyingBear Silver Member

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    Unfortunately, this hardly speaks in anyway for the actual number with a FF status.

    BTW, as a point of comparison, there are now 21 women CEOs in the Fortune 500 companies. I am willing to bet a decent beer that the ratio of women to men in top tiers is higher, but not too far off from that.
     
  13. Daniella

    Daniella New Member

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    Interesting, FlyingBear. So you're basically saying 21 out of 500? That's 4.2%. I guessed "below 10%" in my blog post but I didn't think it was as low as four...
     
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