Altitude Cautionary Tale

Old May 2, 13, 8:57 am
  #1  
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Altitude Cautionary Tale

I am posting this because after being an Aeroplan member since 95, and a Super Elite every year since 2000 (12 straight years), and travelling on average about 140k miles each year, and amassing almost 700k to my million mile mark, Air Canada has lost me as a customer.

In early February of 2012, I was assigned to a project in Wisconsin, and was flying there almost every week from Vancouver. Air Canada has a very good network, but between my home and Wausau WI there simply is no route flown by AC that was an option. Especially given the usual business rules most of us have to work within, on travel to choose the lowest reasonable ticket.

The project was very intense, and I dont review my Aeroplan account status except on my phone. So I was happy to end the year having flown 113k miles between YVR and CWA and awaited my 2013 package. Afterwards, I realized I had not received the usual "SE" emails -but had been so busy I did not miss them, and was happy the project was successful.

I started 2013 just as busy traveling, and by March 1st had put in 25k miles in and flown Air Canada to NYC and LAS and other spots. While waiting to board an AC flight home, holding a boarding pass without my usual SE mark on it, I called asking about my package. I was told I not only did not have a 2013 SE package - but HAD NO AEROPLAN STATUS AT ALL! Apparently, despite flying 113k miles last year; I had ended up missing the criteria for 10k miles on Air Canada and was therefore not qualified for ANY status.

Normally 10k on Air Canada is not an issue, I fly all over and prefer the “comfort of home” on AC. But last year my destination was fixed to a destination not AC friendly, and now after 12 years as an SE, and lots of travel, I have lost not just SE but ALL status. I asked when this had started, and why it was not clearly stated. Apparently the only indication on the aeroplan status page was a small number underneath the "Status Miles" page, which was hardly evident. Even now going to my new "Altitude" page, my history for 2012 shows I am qualified 100k for 2013!

I know some members will say "read the fine print" and that is valid, but I would think most businesses would usually take a broader look at the customer relationship, which is after all the reason for the program in the first place. So, confident that I could at least plead a reasonable defense of my case I contacted Air Canada and on March 7 sent an email to the the status review team and expected some feedback or dialog.

Well, after almost 2 MONTHS later, and after several attempts to get some feedback beyond the auto-generated reply "response by beginning of April", I got declined. The email said I did not qualify and that was it. I was not an 12 year SE, not even a 75k or 50k, but no longer had ANY status or privileges.

While I was waiting I put up with a couple of months of flying with zero status. But after the email I looked for options, another airline has actually listened to me wanted my significant business, and offered to comp me SE equivalency. So the lesson is, Altitude may be a loyalty program, but it seems that its loyalty is only one direction.
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Old May 2, 13, 9:03 am
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Wow, so sorry to hear about this tragic news! Have you PM'ed one of the SE100K here for a 2013 concierge phone # and talk to them about this? I'm sure they would know you on a first name basis and do something about it. There should be plenty of friendly SE's here who will help you out.

My experience with AC emails have been dismal. Altitude program never replied to my emails about not receiving my 2013 package. I had to call AC a few times.

Good luck!
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Old May 2, 13, 9:19 am
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Did you fly on AC at all in 2012? Are you saying that you have had SE status for 12 years so they should give you a break and continue to give you status for one year? Two years? Life?

If I was them I would give you Elite for a year, but certainly be one of the higher levels.
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Old May 2, 13, 9:30 am
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Changed mind
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Old May 2, 13, 9:38 am
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Welcome to Delta Skymiles. It's nice here, isn't it? Now if we could only convince Westjet to join the Skyteam alliance and cover off Canadian domestic travel, we would be all set.
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Old May 2, 13, 9:45 am
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A case like this should be flagged much earlier on. AC should notice that someone who has flown them 700K lifetime, and is flying 140K a year could potentially being them more revenue particularly if he hasn't flown the requisite 10K.

A simple reminder email that "We love you, but please note that to requalify for next year you need to fly 10K. BTW, did you notice our awesome sale on fares to XXX?" could be sent out in September.

Beyond that, someone who flies 140K per year but not even 10K on AC, is someone that AC should want flying 140K on AC and not on someone else's metal. Efforts should be made to capture that customer and get his a$$ on AC metal.

And in this specific case, I think AC should grant the OP at least E75K if not SE100K with a note to please make sure you fly 10K on AC metal this year.

So sad that AC doesn't care about simple basics.
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Old May 2, 13, 9:48 am
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This is the perfect example of "them the rules" and, personally, I find it incredibly angering. If I ran my business based on rules alone, I'd quickly find myself on the street.

These kinds of "rules," especially those pertaining to customer loyalty, should be guidelines as opposed to set in stone. How often do we hear of flyers getting comped status despite having missed the threshold by a few hundred (or more) miles? Meanwhile, OP has a demonstrated loyalty to AC and gets a slap in the face.

I sincerely wish someone at AC had the courage to do the right thing for the OP.
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Old May 2, 13, 9:49 am
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that is crazy. and i suspect the flights to that location are not cheap.
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Old May 2, 13, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by RCyyz View Post
A case like this should be flagged much earlier on. AC should notice that someone who has flown them 700K lifetime, and is flying 140K a year could potentially being them more revenue particularly if he hasn't flown the requisite 10K.

A simple reminder email that "We love you, but please note that to requalify for next year you need to fly 10K. BTW, did you notice our awesome sale on fares to XXX?" could be sent out in September.

Beyond that, someone who flies 140K per year but not even 10K on AC, is someone that AC should want flying 140K on AC and not on someone else's metal. Efforts should be made to capture that customer and get his a$$ on AC metal.

And in this specific case, I think AC should grant the OP at least E75K if not SE100K with a note to please make sure you fly 10K on AC metal this year.

So sad that AC doesn't care about simple basics.
Amen.

Considering we are talking about a multi-billion dollar corporation, AC's IT capabilities, especially in terms of target marketing to their high-profit potential customers, is simply woeful.

Even mediocre CPG firms would drool to have access to all the information AC can gain from properly mining the AC and AE databases.
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Old May 2, 13, 10:42 am
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Originally Posted by ffsim View Post
especially those pertaining to customer loyalty
OP flew 0 miles on AC last year. From AC's perspective, he's no longer a loyal customer. He switched all his business to UA or US.

This is exactly the kind of situation discussed in other threads where people have said "oh but no one who earns S100K won't have flown 10k on AC" when the topic comes up of AC not actually making much money from some of their higher level elites.

And wasn't this rule there for last year too? You had to fly 10k on AC in 2011 to earn 2012 status?
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Old May 2, 13, 10:48 am
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Originally Posted by wombat View Post
I know some members will say "read the fine print" and that is valid, but I would think most businesses would usually take a broader look at the customer relationship, which is after all the reason for the program in the first place.
Correct on both points.

For what it's worth, the need for five flights and 10,000 Status miles was pretty widely publicized by AC (including being discussed at no end here). I know you're a busy guy, but it really wasn't exactly buried in fine print.
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Old May 2, 13, 10:59 am
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
OP flew 0 miles on AC last year. From AC's perspective, he's no longer a loyal customer. He switched all his business to UA or US.

This is exactly the kind of situation discussed in other threads where people have said "oh but no one who earns S100K won't have flown 10k on AC" when the topic comes up of AC not actually making much money from some of their higher level elites.

And wasn't this rule there for last year too? You had to fly 10k on AC in 2011 to earn 2012 status?
I knew this would come up. 700k AC miles flown during in 12 years as SE is definitely loyalty. Heck, it's way more than I've flown, and I'm recognized with status.

I'm certainly not disputing that OP missed the AC's qualifications threshold for 2013 Altitude status -- that's a fact. But I am saying that AC should show some discretion and make an exception for OP. Don't you think that such a gesture would encourage the OP to remain loyal to AC? As it stands, AC has done everything in its power to discourage OP's loyalty.
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Old May 2, 13, 11:27 am
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I think it's 5 segments OR 10,000 miles - either works. The OP should have realized this and flown 5 times from YVR to ORD on AC to catch his flight to WI. As with speeding tickets, ignorance of the law is not a defense...

That being said, it's probably dumb of AC NOT to offer a soft landing to someone - hell, even US offered me a soft landing when I switched my flying.
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Old May 2, 13, 11:41 am
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Originally Posted by BostonMark View Post
I think it's 5 segments OR 10,000 miles - either works. The OP should have realized this and flown 5 times from YVR to ORD on AC to catch his flight to WI. As with speeding tickets, ignorance of the law is not a defense...

That being said, it's probably dumb of AC NOT to offer a soft landing to someone - hell, even US offered me a soft landing when I switched my flying.
Yes, it is either segments OR miles. I beleive the YVR-ORD is operated by UA. But a connection or two in YYZ and/or YUL would get most of the way to the minimum AC flying plus a chance (as in aerolotto) to actually use EUpgrade credit on the TCON.

It appears one party's definition of loyalty gets reset every year while the others lasts a decade or so...
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Old May 2, 13, 11:57 am
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Originally Posted by The Lev View Post
For what it's worth, the need for five flights and 10,000 Status miles was pretty widely publicized by AC (including being discussed at no end here).
It was not only discussed, but almost universally praised as a very good idea indeed.
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