Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Super elite frequent fliers

I am just a peon frequent flier, but my dad is near the top of the heap.
I think it would be cool to be always in first class but there are several odd things in this article.

First, the definition of super-elite varies widely. Continental has 21 super-elite members, while United has 18,000. I’d think you’d be able to provide a lot better service if you focused on 28 people instead of 1000 times as many. Also, spening $20K on United in one year doesn’t seem much of a bar. If you fly a $500 roundtrip 40x/year you are in. I’m not surprised 10,000 people are in it. United’s highest public frequent flier level is 100K miles. I suspect most people who fly that many miles hit the $20K barrier.
Becoming a member of this beyond-platinum club is "the most coveted award" for the frequent traveler, according to Hal Brierley, a loyalty-program consultant with Brierley & Partners in Dallas. He estimates that fewer than one-tenth of 1 percent of elite-level fliers hold super-elite status.
Using this math, United would have 18 million elite-level fliers, which sounds, uh, a bit high.

I also thought it was bizarre that the frequent flier they found to comment was a law student who complained about not being upgraded when he bought cheap tickets:
Vincent Petty, a law student at Stetson University in St. Petersburg, Fla., and a Platinum Medallion-level member of Delta's SkyMiles frequent-flier program, recently received a letter from the airline promising new benefits that exceeded his elite level. "But things haven't gotten any better," he said. "If anything, they are worse. I wait for an upgrade, and even though I'm the only Platinum-level passenger, the first-class seats go to the Silver Medallions who maybe paid more for their tickets than I did. I don't see how a new program is going to change that.”

I doubt bargain ticket buying students are the the target market for these progrmas

UPDATE: more at View from the Wing my favorite travel blog. Luckily in my work I make only one or two trips a year.


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