So American Airlines has some “new” ideas for its AAdvantage loyalty program. They were announced earlier this week and lots of people have written a variety of stories, ranging from rants to unsurprisingly waffling series of notes about why to switch to another program followed immediately by why not to. I’m going to skip all of that this time around in favor of making just three simple points about the change:
It was inevitable
We’ve known for a long, long time that the program would shift to revenue-based. The company has not been shy about discussing that. The only reason it took this long was to allow the merger integration to take priority and IT infrastructure to be properly upgraded to support the new business rules. Expecting that it would be substantially different than what Delta and United are doing was foolhardy.
And, FWIW, we also know that “basic” fares are coming so try to not freak out too much in a few weeks or months when those details are shared.
It is boring
There is virtually no creativity in the changes. Not that I was really expecting any, but I had a sliver of hope that things would be different in one way or another. Upgrades for top-tier elites on award tickets is probably the closest thing to that in my book, and that’s a nice nod to those customers, but the overall changes really are boring. In one discussion online a friend suggested:
In any event, now the big three have done what I think is a service in a perverse sense. With no really significant differentiation in FFP, the equation for most will truly be schedule, price and the intangibles. FFPs are now mostly irrelevant (with some exceptions no doubt). YMMV.
The only problem I have with this view is that it ignores the history of the programs whereby 5 or 10 years ago they were also all pretty much the same on the basic earn/burn rules. They were just all different than they are today; plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
So much hype, so little substance
Boarding Area alone has had 20 posts about the changes since announced earlier this week by 13 writers (21 & 14 now, I suppose). Apparently the changes are so massive that it needed multi-part, detailed analysis on why to leave, quickly followed by why to stay. Which is just stupid. All that hype, so little substance. Yes, the changes do matter for many passengers. But doing the math on where you fall in the spend v earn scale is really easy.
If you buy expensive tickets the changes are likely good for you. If you buy cheap tickets the changes are likely bad for you. Besides, haven’t the airlines been telling us for a long time now that co-branded earning is the way to go??
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