Devaluation of *G Status

Old Apr 11, 18, 5:14 am
  #1  
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Devaluation of *G Status

Over the past few years I feel like we've seen a huge devaluation of *G status all across the board, from "Light" fares with no extra baggage for *G starting from NZ and now spread to all LH group, SK, and TP, C class lounges not open to *G (like UA Polaris, SQ SKL, ET Cloud Nine) or without guesting privileges (NZ Regional lounges), lots of spinoff carriers like Eurowings, Air Seoul, Thai Smile, Silkair, Uni Air, Edelweiss etc. in which avoiding *A seems like a prime reason they are created, in addition to rumblings that TP wasn't giving extra bag to *G on any fares (after complaining about a baggage related issue to TP customer care, they told me non-TP *G gets an extra bag only when the itinerary contains 2 or more *A airlines, however it seems they implemented this in practice to only discount fares and not all fares) and UA's new China baggage promo (they claim that the "normal" allowance is 1 bag, but due to a special promo with no end date pax with no status get 2 bags, as do *G because "normal" allowance is 1 bag). I got a lot of flak for complaining about this in the UA forum but this one still doesn't sit right with me. If they can claim that all China pax get 2 bags because of a special promo and the normal allowance is 1 bag so *G should also only get 2 bags, what's stopping them from saying that Europe pax get 1 bag due to special promo, normal allowance is 0, and *G should only get 1?

How much farther can they go? Is there something in the *A contract that prevents continued spread of these kinds of behaviors further? Could the European airlines' standard bag-inclusive fares be rebranded as "Light Plus" so they too can avoid giving an extra bag to *G? Are they planning to just cancel the *G baggage benefit?

Why isn't SkyTeam having this problem? I'm not aware of any fare on any SkyTeam airline that gives STE+ no extra bags, Joon, AF's spinoff, is basically full service AF as far as STE+ benefits are concerned, and they don't have anything like the magnitude of exceptions that *A has.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 6:33 am
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Now, I understand that some people (or at least their employers) are paying a good chunk of money to the airlines. For instance, prices are quite high on many North American routes as well as on intercontinental flights between the US and Europe. And they have to pay those dear prices even though the airlines are bringing down their costs by a percentage point or two each year.

At the very lest, you expect some recognition in return for loyalty to a certain airline or alliance. And it's frustrating if the recognition you get (say, as *G) is poor and not what it used to be.

I think part of the explanation is the increased market power of airlines. They can afford to devalue your *G status as the customer has fewer alternatives! What can you do? Nothing really, perhaps hope that regulators will change their views about the monopoly power of airlines and, particularly, their joint ventures.

On the other hand, I don't think that is the full story. There are also markets where a *G is cheaper than it ever was. I know, now somebody is gonna chime in and say "but *G with program XYZ used to be so much easier" but that doesn't refute my point. If you're based in certain parts of Eastern Europe, *G can be had dirt cheap. If you're based in certain parts of Asia, OWS and OWE can be had dirt cheap. To those who got their *G so easily, my answer would be "you get what you pay for". If people want lower and lower prices, lower than what is to be expected based airlines' efficiency gains, you need to cut costs somewhere. No surprise *G benefits aren't exempt from cost-cutting measures.

In conclusion, I am of two minds about this. I can understand some users in markets with high prices are upset about deteriorating *G benefits. But I also think there are other markets which are competitive and in which prices are cut aggressively (as that seems to be what the customer wants). If you are in the latter type of situation, there's less reason to be upset the recognition is devalued. You get what you pay for.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 6:54 am
  #3  
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Hi,

To also chime in on this, in general I think *G in general was already quite poor in providing any recognition's or benefits compared to the other alliances. However one of the worst culprits in my opinion is TAP. It is just a sort of hybrid airline that has nearly zero benefit (except for lounge access and at time priority boarding) when flying them. Other airline members are still quite OK and for me the best benefit is so far at least still lounge access when flying domestic when having a non-UA MP membership.

I've also not seen any effort being put to further improve this the last few years except for the recently introduced Gold Track for priority screening. I don't think any of the airline members even have any form of recognition of Gold members (onboard) like some airlines do with SkyTeam and Oneworld.

Cheers!
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Old Apr 11, 18, 7:07 am
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Originally Posted by nldogbert View Post
I don't think any of the airline members even have any form of recognition of Gold members (onboard) like some airlines do with SkyTeam and Oneworld.
When flying long-haul, there will be recognition of Gold members. E.g., on LH group, the purser usually stops by to greet both own and other *G individually. Not a particularly valuable benefit, though, if you ask me.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 12:26 pm
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Originally Posted by 1353513636 View Post
Why isn't SkyTeam having this problem? I'm not aware of any fare on any SkyTeam airline that gives STE+ no extra bags, Joon, AF's spinoff, is basically full service AF as far as STE+ benefits are concerned, and they don't have anything like the magnitude of exceptions that *A has.
While I agree with much of your complaint, this assertion that SkyTeam doesn't have a similar issue is just wrong. You mention Joon, but you have left out Transavia, which is KLM subsidiary which is not part of SkyTeam. You mention Air Seoul, but don't mention that Asiana's SkyTeam competitor Korean Air also has a low cost carrier that is not SkyTeam called Jin Air. You fail to mention China United Airlines, a subsidiary of China Eastern that is not in SkyTeam. And to say that a prime reason that they are created is to avoid *A is just patently false. First off, Edelweiss flights that are booked as LX flights are treated as LX flights for all intents and purposes. And Uni air, which you mentioned, was acquired by EVA before Star Alliance even existed. And while I am not as familiar with the business decisions in Asia, although I would suspect the reasoning to be similar, for the European groups like Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and IAG, the primary reason for the subsidiaries is different contracts for cheaper labour.
I wish what you were saying would be true. If only *A were devaluing the membership, then there would at least be alternatives. However, this is merely a trend amongst all of the alliances and the airline industry in general.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 12:42 pm
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So long as *G can be achieved with a $6K spent on UA, don't expect to see anything along the lines OP wants. Flying with a low-ish spend and on deeply discounted fares is not the passenger *A, which is simply a marketing alliance, was designed to encourage.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 1:32 pm
  #7  
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
So long as *G can be achieved with a $6K spent on UA, don't expect to see anything along the lines OP wants. Flying with a low-ish spend and on deeply discounted fares is not the passenger *A, which is simply a marketing alliance, was designed to encourage.
or about $2k if flying SAS and crediting in A3
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Old Apr 11, 18, 4:12 pm
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And there you have it.

I understand that people want lots of benefits for little money. But, that is not good business practice and it is not going to happen.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 4:39 pm
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You say that but... OWE can be achieved for about $3k (conservatively) on BA, and offers much, much better privileges on paper. So... what's it going to be?
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Old Apr 11, 18, 7:08 pm
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I think *A should introduce a new tier higher than Gold, like OW and ST who have 3 levels.
I think it's fairly easy to get Gold at the moment compared to the other alliance highest statuses. The devaluation probably comes from the high number of people having the status.
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Old Apr 12, 18, 1:01 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
[snip] *A, which is simply a marketing alliance[/snip]
Why is this erroneous claim made over and over again?

*A is waaay more than a marketing alliance. Each participating airline must standardize its products to a significant degree. Then, a number of resources are shared (most significantly, slots). They pool orders of certain parts etc. etc.
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Old Apr 12, 18, 1:13 am
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There are far too many *Gs. Period. The Alliance should formulate a way to cut the numbers by about 50%, for example by removing it from mid-tier programs.
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Old Apr 12, 18, 2:26 am
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Originally Posted by Mict View Post
I think *A should introduce a new tier higher than Gold, like OW and ST who have 3 levels.
I think it's fairly easy to get Gold at the moment compared to the other alliance highest statuses. The devaluation probably comes from the high number of people having the status.
Has SkyTeam created a new tier that I haven't heard of?

So, let's say *A creates a new tier. Let's call it platinum. What benefits does it come with? A bag on all flights? Well, LH doesn't even give that to HON Circle members, so I doubt that's coming. First class lounge access? Well, first off, how many *A carriers have first class to start with? And then, how many give other * airlines access to their first class lounges?
I mean, the only benefit I could imagine airlines potentially agreeing to is free special seat. Other than that, there aren't many foreseeable benefits that could come out of a higher tier, so it just doesn't seem realistic at all...
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Old Apr 12, 18, 3:59 am
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Originally Posted by AlwaysFlyStar View Post
Has SkyTeam created a new tier that I haven't heard of?

So, let's say *A creates a new tier. Let's call it platinum. What benefits does it come with? A bag on all flights? Well, LH doesn't even give that to HON Circle members, so I doubt that's coming. First class lounge access? Well, first off, how many *A carriers have first class to start with? And then, how many give other * airlines access to their first class lounges?..
ANA, Air China, Air India, Asiana, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Swiss, Thai Airways and United Airlines on certains routes have first class.

If OneWorld offers their Emerald status passengers first class lounge access, I donít see why Star Allaince couldnít do the same with a higher tier than Star Gold.
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Old Apr 12, 18, 4:51 am
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Originally Posted by 1flyer View Post
*A is waaay more than a marketing alliance. Each participating airline must standardize its products to a significant degree. Then, a number of resources are shared (most significantly, slots). They pool orders of certain parts etc. etc.
*A has no slot sharing anywhere. MRO is also thru bi-/multilateral agreements and not *A wide.

The main integration is the endorsement free interlining between all *A partners. This is super valuable in irregs. Lounge access and extra baggage are only peripheral things. The fact that I can travel with 28 other airlines who treat me like I'm (sometimes almost) their own elite is very nice. Especially when things don't go as planned.
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