And now, an angry rant…
Now – I’d normally chalk this up to a bad coffee, bad weather or a rough nights sleep, but none of these are the case. I feel absolutely fine, yet I find myself bewildered by a recent spate of airlines reducing seat size, slashing benefits from loyal customers and raising prices using points, making it even harder for people to cash in their mystifying “loyalty” currency. While the obvious finger to point would be directly at airlines, the story has become so repetitive, it’s beginning to feel like one of someone who knows they’re being cheated on – yet does nothing about it – over and over again. Which begs the question: are we passengers to blame for airline cuts?
Many call the state of current airline affairs the “race to the bottom” – and as it stands, we’re all lubricating the finely tuned racing machines. One airline cuts something – the world seems to be outraged, yet next thing you know, the airlines balance sheet goes up, and so do passenger numbers. So what does that tell the next airline? Let’s see how far we can take it. After all, they got away with it! And so then the next major cut comes, this time from a new airline. We’ll stop there, because that’s where the story should end. If we had any collective backbone, we would’ve turned our backs on the first airline that tested our patience. If we had, share prices would’ve fallen, yields would’ve dropped and it wouldn’t have signaled to every other airline on the planet that cuts are not only tolerated, but are also the way forward. We’re addicts.
Many airlines make more money off of selling points than they do flying planes. That’s a fact, and it’s worth a quick pause to reflect on. Too many stories of travel bloggers like myself experiencing extreme luxury via points and miles has fueled the airline points sales pitch. They sell you 50,000 points for $750, and there’s absolutely zero oversight to protect your investment. Today, those points may be enough for a one way business class ticket, while tomorrow, they can’t get you an economy seat. What other industry on earth sells goods, and then unilaterally changes the value, without any form of rebuttal or refund for the customer? Now don’t get me wrong – buying points can be fantastic. I do it regularly. But if I do, I burn just as fast as I earn. It’s the only way. I will never be the fool sitting on millions of points when the hammer comes down.
Are we to blame for airline cuts? You bet, but so are they. We can’t help but to entertain our natural desires to see the world and experience the best things in life. As the only people with airplanes, they’ve got us there. I can’t really see Beijing without hopping on a plane. We also must provide for ourselves and our families, and this is where airlines have become disingenuous. A customer means nothing to them. A corporation means everything. Most of the high roller tickets purchased on airlines are purchased by companies. They don’t care about loyalty, they care about price. The person flying on the ticket has no choice in the matter and just goes where they are told. Airlines are mistaking these two customers, and the good they can do to keep these niche customers with the will of the people – and that’s wrong.