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Old Apr 11, 14, 12:19 pm   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nsx View Post
Wow, Ben really excoriated AA!

OTOH, AA would not be sad to lose customers whose travel purchase patterns resemble Ben's.

When Southwest changed to a revenue-based program they knew it would upset everyone who had learned how to game the old program. From the company's point of view that effect was a benefit. The company's objective was a program that benefited the 95% who are NOT willing to take the time to become experts.

I predict that FF programs will eventually have both revenue-based redemption without capacity controls and chart-based redemption with capacity controls. The former will satisfy the 95% who don't want to do any homework (including current Capital One customers), while the latter will appeal more to the other 5%, including FT'ers.

Both the 95% and the 5% abhor breaches of trust. I don't believe that zero-notice change is in the interest of any type of program, but management seems to disagree with me.

Here's a thought experiment. Suppose you were running Chase Ultimate Rewards and you decided that you were "overindexed". Too many people were redeeming for United, Hyatt, and Southwest points. You needed to devalue those redemption options. Would you give advance notice, risking a run on the bank? Remember that unlike, say, AA miles, UR points can be redeemed in a flash without any need to lock the points into a specific trip.
I am shocked that anyone is shocked by this. Hotels frequency program point earning has been revenue-based since their inception. And it's a far more logical way of measuring how 'important' a customer is in a de-regulated airline industry, too. So we need to get used to it, prepare for it, and act accordingly.

As for the lack of notice, to me that's a natural result of the oligopolization of the airline industry. As I said in one of the blogs' comments section: anyone who rooted for the AA/US merger, or who criticized the DOJ for trying to stop it, was NOT on the customers' side. Ahem, http://boardingarea.com/viewfromthew...far-from-over/
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Old Apr 11, 14, 12:22 pm   #17
  
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I wonder about the following:

1) How many Explorer tickets did AA issue in 2013?
2) How many "free one-ways" did AA issue in 2013?
3) How many unique passengers took advantage of the above?

I bet a very small percentage of the overall population of AA FF's were taking advantage of these. I love the idea of these tickets in theory (playing with GCM was sorta fun at night), but I never had the opportunity to use them. Don't forget, the people here are the most extreme travellers and are definitely the exception to the rule. I'd also bet that many of the exception people aren't even earning their miles by flying, but through other means.

I think that people forget that the airlines are running their business the way they think they can maximize shareholder value etc. Airlines are not here for the bloggers, trip report writers etc. If the airlines think that by cutting this or that, profits would increase, why wouldn't they do this? How many minutes did it take for an AA employee to ticket one of the Explorer or "free one-way" tickets? Probably a ton more than the average ticket.

In my opinion, which matters very little, the worst of the whole thing was that there was no notice.

Finally, I wonder how this will affect the award booking services. Seems like the two things they took away (Explorer and Free one-ways) were great for award bookers.

Only time will tell if these changes will have any actual impact on the bottom line.
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Old Apr 11, 14, 2:11 pm   #18
  
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
We don't generally discuss members publicly, but I am going to break that rule this once. I had the pleasure of working with Gary for several years when both of us were senior moderators. He was exceptionally good at the task. He worked hard for many years to make FlyerTalk the place that it is. It's his choice to now expend his considerable talents elsewhere, as is the right for anyone who finds a business opportunity or passion they want to pursue. He will always have considerable good will with me.
Appreciate the comment. I've never met him, but from everything I've read and heard, Gary is an honorable guy.

I think he generally posts what he believes, and in this case, I think he actually still trusts AA. I've certainly had my share of relationships go south where I refused to believe what all of my friends were telling me!

So yeah, I've made jokes on his (and Ben's) blogs about Gary being on the payroll of AA, but they really are just jokes. I honestly think he's posting what his heart wants to believe rather than what his head knows to be true.
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Old Apr 11, 14, 2:16 pm   #19
  
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Originally Posted by itsaboutthejourney View Post
I find it ironic that Lucky, Points Guy, Gleff and others dropped UA like a hot potato and have been gushing over all things AA the past couple of years and then seem surprised at these changes and how they were handled.
This point is not lost on me either. It's surely going to get interesting over the next 12 months or so!
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Old Apr 11, 14, 2:26 pm   #20
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Since this thread links to my blog post I got a 'trackback link' to it and thought I'd check it out.

As speculated in the first post in this thread, my perspective in writing the post was that it does no good whatsoever to say AAdvantage is already irredeemably burned, otherwise there’s no reason why they should change their future behavior. My intention was to channel my anger and public shaming at the future.

There are many much bigger changes to come -- to the saver/partner award chart, to upgrades to name just a few -- and as I suggest in the post I assume those will probably be more bad than good and are certain to make some members mad either way.

So my point, perhaps too subtly made in the post, is that since there are going to be many next times American needs to do much better with those and not repeat what they did this time. They absolutely must give ample notice. And that failure to do so will make them totally untrustworthy

Clearly seeing how that message got lost in so many comments on the blog I must not have done a very good job in making it. That's on me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigasiannd View Post
I read VFTW for some of the content, but found that Gary to be entitled, arrogant, argumentative, and passionless through his blog articles.
Wow, all of those things? I'm a person too, y'know?

That's ok, enough years on the internet, I can take criticism

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigasiannd
He acts like he is an entitled person because of his status with hotels and airlines, thinks he is the authority on food (see his claims on the best BBQ, best thai food, best korean food), has to write an article refuting every published blog or print article that he doesn't agree with, and complains via his blog when things doesn't go his way. For example, his trip report about how he had to wait in line to check in at a Hyatt in Singapore even though he is a diamond member. Has it ever occurred to him that there might be other diamond members in line?
I didn't have much wait to check into the Grand Hyatt Singapore. I'm glad you read my report, though, and even remember it from a year ago. Thank you!

Not that it much matters but I had arrangement a pickup by the hotel, they confirmed it, but they didn't actually show up. Their check-in procedure for guests staying on the club level is to check in at the club, but I was told that staff were too busy to send me up (the elevator requires a key card, and since I wasn't checked in yet I would have needed to be let up). I checked in at the front desk but was behind only one person. It seemed like a relevant part of the review of the hotel, to me at least. Heck, if I left it out folks would have thought I was shilling for the hotel!

For what it's worth I enjoy all sorts of different foods very much, I think the variety of things I've gotten to try is one of the spectacular things about travel and understanding how people shop, cook, and eat has been a fascinating window into the lives of the people I've met. (And so I've written about markets, taken cooking classes, eaten at many food stalls and also top restaurants.) I don't think of myself as an authority on it generally (with the possible exception of pastrami, cole slaw, and knishes), but since I write a blog I share what I think. I also make the comments an open forum, people are welcome to disagree with me -- in as strong a form as they wish to take.

Quote:
Was there a falling out between Gary and FT? He often says that he is not welcome here.
I don't often say that, as you can see my posting privileges are fully intact. And contra the suggestion that I somehow want to give Flyertalk short shrift, I linked to a thread here in a blog post this morning.

I don't spend nearly the time here that I once did, but Flyertalk holds a very special place for me, it's here that I first met the people who taught me so much more than I ever knew about miles and points and travel (people like Randy of course but also especially PremEx from whom I gained fantastic lessons that pay great dividends to this day, most of how I approach travel came from his posts).

I like to think that I've given back here over the years as well, but in the end I've benefited tremendously from the relationships I've built and the knowledge gained and both of those happened here so on net I hope to always come across positive in any comments about the community.

My best to all and I'm honored to be discussed here, even if I don't always love the pejoratives used in that discussion

[And kokonutz I was always consistent in hoping the merger wouldn't happen, I've never thought there was a scenario where frequent flyers would benefit from it -- even if I didn't think the Department of Justice case was very strong, or at least made very well. I'm not just a cheerleader for 'my side' I present what I honestly think and make predictions that aren't affirming my own preferences, and that tends to rankle readers. Just not a very tribal sort of guy.]

Finally.. SanDiego1K.. ::blush::

Now back to my blog, my award booking, my job, my wife, my dog, and preparing to present the Freddie Awards in Seattle later this month.

Best to all,
Gary
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Old Apr 11, 14, 3:02 pm   #21
  
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Originally Posted by gleff View Post

As speculated in the first post in this thread, my perspective in writing the post was that it does no good whatsoever to say AAdvantage is already irredeemably burned, otherwise there’s no reason why they should change their future behavior. My intention was to channel my anger and public shaming at the future.

There are many much bigger changes to come -- to the saver/partner award chart, to upgrades to name just a few -- and as I suggest in the post I assume those will probably be more bad than good and are certain to make some members mad either way.

So my point, perhaps too subtly made in the post, is that since there are going to be many next times American needs to do much better with those and not repeat what they did this time. They absolutely must give ample notice. And that failure to do so will make them totally untrustworthy
You're right, the post didn't come across with that point...especially the title. I can see your point as stated above, and don't necessarily disagree in a general sense. But I'm somewhat pessimistic that anything will really change the Big 3's (Ok, plus WN) attitude with these kinds of things. Most any corporation will screw its customers to the extent necessary to enhance profitability. The airlines aren't any better.

And as kokunutz stated upthread, times are changing with loyalty programs. We'll just have to do what we can with the remaining scraps. I can't say I would trust any of the programs.
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Old Apr 11, 14, 3:18 pm   #22
  
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Originally Posted by gleff View Post

Now back to my blog, my award booking, my job, my wife, my dog
I'm glad your wife ranks ahead of your dog on the priority list!
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Old Apr 11, 14, 7:04 pm   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gleff View Post
Since this thread links to my blog post I got a 'trackback link' to it and thought I'd check it out.
You don't need to make any excuses nor apologies for posting here!



Quote:
[And kokonutz I was always consistent in hoping the merger wouldn't happen, I've never thought there was a scenario where frequent flyers would benefit from it -- even if I didn't think the Department of Justice case was very strong, or at least made very well. I'm not just a cheerleader for 'my side' I present what I honestly think and make predictions that aren't affirming my own preferences, and that tends to rankle readers. Just not a very tribal sort of guy.]
It's not that 'there was no scenario where ff's would benefit from the merger.' The UA/CO merger and the AA/US merger were anti-competitive, anti-consumer and especially anti-frequent flyer. Miles and points hoarders needed to be not just worried about them but taking proactive action in light of them.

It seems to me that you wrote about this sort of thing not from OUR (yours, mine, and other frequent flyer/points hoarder) point of view but rather as an outside observer with an anti-government intervention perspective. I think THAT's what rankles your readers.

If the DOJ did/does not have the ability to stop this oligopoly from happening and getting worse, they should.
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Old Apr 11, 14, 10:00 pm   #24
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kokonutz View Post
You don't need to make any excuses nor apologies for posting here!




It's not that 'there was no scenario where ff's would benefit from the merger.' The UA/CO merger and the AA/US merger were anti-competitive, anti-consumer and especially anti-frequent flyer. Miles and points hoarders needed to be not just worried about them but taking proactive action in light of them.

It seems to me that you wrote about this sort of thing not from OUR (yours, mine, and other frequent flyer/points hoarder) point of view but rather as an outside observer with an anti-government intervention perspective. I think THAT's what rankles your readers.

If the DOJ did/does not have the ability to stop this oligopoly from happening and getting worse, they should.
DOJ did not have absolute power to stop this from happening, but they had a decision to make about the strength of their case. Given that few airline mergers are likely to occur anymore with the impact of US/AA, I think Eric Holder folded when there was a reasonable argument that despite earlier merger approvals, this particular merger had the potential to create limited competition.

When I saw DOJ was moving to delay the trial in this matter, I knew DOJ was operating from a position of weakness. In trial practice, the party bearing the burden of proof generally should wait to file until all their ducks are in a row. DOJ appeared initially reluctant to move against this merger and apparently got into the battle late and ill prepared. US/AA should have been the party seeking to delay things instead of the DOJ. When it became apparent DOJ wasn't ready, it was just a matter of time before settlement occurred with the new entity giving up slots at several airports--hardly a major concession as they were already well represented in those markets by one or the other.
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Old Apr 12, 14, 12:13 am   #25
  
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
We don't generally discuss members publicly, but I am going to break that rule this once...
I appreciate the exception. While not discussing members publicly is a good rule, there has always been an exception for public figures, celebrities, etc.

It is difficult for me to imagine that people like Tom Horton, Doug Parker, Jeff Smissek, etc., could escape discussion here merely by signing up as FT members.

Point is, Gary is now a public personality in travel space. As a writer, event organizer, entrepreneur, etc. I mean it in the most positive sense, he is not "one of us" any longer.
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Old Apr 12, 14, 12:52 am   #26
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Originally Posted by kokonutz View Post
Hotels frequency program point earning has been revenue-based since their inception.
That runs contrary to my experience. The first programs my (still-living) family used started out as stay X nights get a night free kind of programs and each point was a night.

I would be surprised if there weren't less formal frequent guest programs long before commercial air travel which also used nights rather than nightly rate to track and reward loyalty.

That said, these AA/US changes, which resulted in this thread, aren't yet about a change to a penny/dollar-counting system for the "loyalty" program.

I do fully accept that the no-advance-notice shenanigans should not be a shock given the government-sanctioned reduced-competition environment that now has us with an oligopolistic US market where three big cartel kingpins run the show. Expect more of this going forward. And it's not like a little advance notice is going to improve matters generally -- most people in these programs aren't in a position to, aren't willing to, or are highly unlikely to expedite point/mile earning in huge volumes in a week, a month or even a quarter to avoid the devaluations.

I would be shocked if the new AA cares that much about being shamed or about avoiding shame on the blogosphere to do better in the future -- they are committed to devaluing the value customers get out of the point-redemption aspect of program participation and ultimately that is all that matters in this environment where they can largely get away with devaluations with impunity.

The airline program bloggers are more impotent today in guiding/inhibiting program changes than they were at this time last year. Not that they were all that potent last year, not even in the sphere where competition is more amongst loyalty programs (ie hotel loyalty programs).

Last edited by GUWonder; Apr 12, 14 at 1:30 am Reason: Gate
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Old Apr 12, 14, 6:04 am   #27
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Originally Posted by aktchi View Post
I mean it in the most positive sense, he is not "one of us" any longer.
Positive negativity? FWIW I don't share you're opinion Gary is still an FTer and posted to this thread so is one of us.
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Old Apr 12, 14, 7:01 am   #28
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Positive negativity? FWIW I don't share you're opinion Gary is still an FTer and posted to this thread so is one of us.
Someone who uses the site as a resource but no longer contributes to it shouldn't be seen as a friend of the community IMO.

I get the history and I get that it is a business decision. But I'm still comfortable with that assessment.
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Old Apr 12, 14, 7:23 am   #29
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As a member of the FT community, I consider him a friend of the FT community and it doesn't have to show up in his post counts on FT. The topics he cares about are topics which the FT community -- myself included until further notice -- cares about and benefits from. Then again I've never been a fan of the "you're with me or you're against me" false dichotomy.

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Originally Posted by tcook052 View Post
Positive negativity? FWIW I don't share you're opinion Gary is still an FTer and posted to this thread so is one of us.
Once an FTer, always an FTer.

That said, when someone has chosen to become a public figure and/or a media personality of sort that covers a topic for print, electronic and/or radio/television/cable/satellite media, critique of such figures' positions -- or even perhaps the person -- are sort of part and parcel of the expected by those who are intelligent and informed and choose to participate in such ways. Intelligent, informed people without thick skin wouldn't get into this game; rather they would try to stay away from it; and even intelligent, informed people with thick skin would perhaps stay away from the game.

I'm glad that Gary Leff has decided to do this and stay in the game in this way; not because he's always right -- often as he is -- and not because his views are a copy or mirror-image of mine -- and often they are -- but because he cares about the subject matter he covers, seeks out facts on the covered topics and is willing to entertain different opinions of substance without censoring them in the public domain. It earned him my respect long ago and his actions still do. I wish I could say the same thing for the management figures of the big cartel kingpins running the airline "loyalty" programs, even as they too are subjects of circumstance as we all are.

bigasiannd's characterization of Gary Leff runs in direct contrast to what I know of Gary Leff.

Last edited by GUWonder; Apr 12, 14 at 7:32 am
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Old Apr 12, 14, 11:21 am   #30
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Show me a blogger that is focusing on how to live through the shift and prepare for the other side and I'll subscribe today.
How about this?
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