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deangreenhoe
06-29-2007, 06:20 AM
Excellent column! Although I play the frequent flier game myself, I try not to let it influence my purchase behaviour before considering the advantages and disadvantages of all options.

I think the rules change just a bit for the real high mileage road warriors because there are more valuable advantages to maintaining a certain status level with one's preferred carrier, including complimentary space available upgrades, mileage bonuses, more leeway (sometimes without penalty) in changing travel plans on the fly and just plain better treatment by the airline's employees in most cases. However, if a traveler has little chance of obtaining that elite status, it doesn't make sense to blindly adhere to brand loyalty while forsaking comfort and convenience on the occasional trips they do take.

I assist a number of clients with the management of their travel vendor affinity programs. Part of that function is evaluating their expected potential annual volume with any given airline and determining if it makes sense (or not) to focus as much as possible on one carrier or another. For those who have little chance of obtaining elite status on one specific airline on a consistent basis, todays column should be required reading.

weblet
06-29-2007, 08:01 AM
Ditto Deano! Don't let someone who is an elite flyer tell you differently! They have a whole different agenda than the casual flyer!

Ned
06-29-2007, 08:50 AM
As an elite frequent flier, I thought Charles' article excellent for the casual flier, but then again, not for me.

wrp96
06-29-2007, 08:59 AM
I appreciated the article today because too many articles dealing with frequent flyers do focus on the elite flyer. I fly several times a year, but not enough to make elite flyer. I definitely don't book a flight based on frequent flyer miles, but rather on schedule, price, and service. As it happens my last several flights have all been on American because the combination has been just right for me, not because I have the most miles on AA. BUT if all other things are equal I will look at the one which I have the most miles on - but only after I've considered everything else.

vacationagent
06-29-2007, 09:08 AM
I liked the article for infrequent flyers. Big thumbs up to him!

deangreenhoe
06-29-2007, 09:11 AM
As an elite frequent flier, I thought Charles' article excellent for the casual flier, but then again, not for me.

Exactly, Ned. The average active member at FlyerTalk would probably have a hissy fit over the advice in that article. LOL.

But as with all things, it's impossible to compose a one size fits all advice column. I do see some small fish who are big whale's in their own minds throwing a lot of money away (quite often their employer's, actually) chasing after miles that in reality are worth far less than the cost to accrue them. If the flier's goal is simply to earn one or two minimum mileage level domestic tickets a year, they may as well just buy the tickets outright rather than jumping through the hoops (financially and service-wise) to earn them.

I think we can agree that it's an apples and oranges discussion between casual travelers and those who fly enough to achieve elite status with a specific carrier.

Ned
06-29-2007, 09:54 AM
Actually, I think that discussion has a much wide chasm than that. I would call it apples and broccoli.

I think what I do, and what a casual traveler should do are vastly different. That being said, even for me, sometimes it doesn't pay to chase the miles for some routes.

My number one priority is getting somewhere comfortably, quickly, with as few flights as possible (non-stop direct is #1, when possible) and at a reasonable cost. Now I will make every effort to see if I can do that within my main frequent flier accounts, because I benefit greatly from that strategy. US Air and therefore Star Alliance is my main airline at this point, however, I now travel Continental to Dallas or Houston instead of US Air for my Texas meetings, because of US Air's choice of plane for the 4 hour trip. Anyone who solely chases miles, even if they're elite, are fools.

I think we can agree that it's an apples and oranges discussion between casual travelers and those who fly enough to achieve elite status with a specific carrier.

travelgourmet
06-29-2007, 10:02 AM
I feel it a bit unfortunate that Charles didn't identify what an infrequent traveler is. Someone who flies 2 or 3 transcons and a transatlantic flight each year may find themselves knocking on the door of elite status, without thinking of themselves as a frequent flyer. And it is that elite status which can change the whole valuation game. Think about what you can get with an NW or Continental silver elite card, for instance:

1) Preferred seating on quite a few carriers. Often not a big deal, but take a look at the difference between the front and back sections of coach on a NW A330. Power ports and extra legroom is a decent perk.
2) Priority boarding. Nice on a crowded flight, so that you can put your bag up, rather than in front of you.
3) 50% mileage bonus. All of a sudden, your 25k miles turns into 37.5k miles.
4) Increased reward availability. I can't stress how important this is, particularly with Skyteam airlines.
5) Domestic space-available upgrades.

And with the alliances, I think it is relatively easy to stay loyal to one program, while still ensuring you get a fair deal on your flights. Sure, Continental may not match that American price, but Northwest or Delta might. Or just go with Alaska and earn on AA, NW, Continental, Delta, and more.

Oh. And for what it is worth, I would still recommend that the folks in the article take JetBlue. It would take a lot of miles for me to give up the 36" of legroom they offer.

deangreenhoe
06-29-2007, 10:04 AM
Anyone who solely chases miles, even if they're elite, are fools.


You mean like one of my frequent corporate travelers who regularly flies a certain carrier (for the miles) to Eastern Europe on a 4 segment, 3 connection itinerary with a forced overnight on the return in an expensive European hotel as opposed to a single connection, same day journey on a competing carrier so his wife can use those miles to fly her relatives around the country for free...if she can find the space?

Is that what we're talking about? :lol:

weblet
06-29-2007, 11:54 AM
You mean like one of my frequent corporate travelers who regularly flies a certain carrier (for the miles) to Eastern Europe on a 4 segment, 3 connection itinerary with a forced overnight on the return in an expensive European hotel as opposed to a single connection, same day journey on a competing carrier so his wife can use those miles to fly her relatives around the country for free...if she can find the space?

Is that what we're talking about? :lol:
Ummm, could be....

Ned
06-29-2007, 06:03 PM
Damn, you caught me. :p

Actually, yep!:lol:

You mean like one of my frequent corporate travelers who regularly flies a certain carrier (for the miles) to Eastern Europe on a 4 segment, 3 connection itinerary with a forced overnight on the return in an expensive European hotel as opposed to a single connection, same day journey on a competing carrier so his wife can use those miles to fly her relatives around the country for free...if she can find the space?

Is that what we're talking about?