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Old May 9, 15, 8:33 am
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: ORD/MDW
Programs: BA/AA/AS/B6/WN/ UA/HH/MR and more like 'em but most felicitously & importantly MUCCI
Posts: 19,108
Originally Posted by Sounder View Post
I guess the glory days of frequent flyer programs really are coming to an end. Welcome to the future folks.
As behavior influencers for most people, FF programs are an ever-more-minor factor.

If you're buying discount economy from the west coast to Europe and Icelandair is $400 less than BA/KL/AF/etc., as it often is, would you take the cheap ticket -- or the AS miles? When you're talking about 10,000 EQMs (abd more RDMs for MVP and higher), I'm influenced to take BA/KL/AF. When the "carrot" is a mere 25% of that, the hell with it -- I'll fly Icelandair and pocket the savings.

The whole point of these programs is to drive loyal buying behavior among the broad middle of frequent flyers. The lowest tier of customers will always go for cheap, and the highest tier will usually go for schedule / nonstops / convenience. The rest of us in the middle can be persuaded to buy loyally, pay more and / or accept suboptimal itineraries, in return for FF status and rewards.

But the airlines are intent on blowing up that model and driving most everyone to just look for the cheapest possible ticket, which in the long run can't be good for them. An awful lot of marginal revenue comes from (or used to come from) customers spending more than necessary to book their "preferred" carrier. But no carrot, no sale.

This is what happens when competition and options decline to the point where the airlines can operate like inescapable public utilities. They figure they don't have to reward most people for choosing them because there's less choice, fewer options, and so much less capacity, and much of the time they're right.
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