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Do New Fees Reinforce Elite Flyer Brand Loyalty?  
User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21511 posts, RR: 60
Posted (4 years 12 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 1850 times:

It's a simple enough question.

With WN now offering an early bird fee, it seems every airline has some kinds of fees, be they bags, boarding, ticketing, etc. that are waived for elite flyers on their airline.

But doesn't this both encourage loyalty to your airline by your elites and discourage "sampling" by elites of other airlines?

I know for me that I'm not going to choose AA (non-elite) over DL (elite), for example, if the additional fees of my flights add up to over a hundred dollars due to status differences. It used to be that I would prefer to fly on DL for a chance of an upgrade, but now, even without the upgrade possibility on really popular routes, I'm inclined to look at DL first.

Any other elites doing the same thing, or am I simply a cheapskate?


Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineVZLA787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 99 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (4 years 12 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 1826 times:

I do the same thing. I'm AA PLT, and will always choose AA over anybody else because of the fees I will avoid. But, sometimes I will check out WN when they have special offers ($130 r/t to ORD from FLL) when AA is abt $300 from MIA.

User currently offlineTK787 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4424 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (4 years 12 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 1813 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Thread starter):
I know for me that I'm not going to choose AA (non-elite) over DL (elite), for example

Same here, especially when traveling for work and have to carry bunch of cases. It is nice that I don't pay luggage fees, nor do the people on my itinerary.


User currently offlineGxman From United States of America, joined Jan 2009, 93 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (4 years 12 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1763 times:

Same here, now I try to stay with CO to avoid the baggage fees. If I travel for work I can expense the fees but I'd rather just skip them altogether.


Steve
User currently offlineSW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6321 posts, RR: 9
Reply 4, posted (4 years 12 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1756 times:



Quoting VZLA787 (Reply 1):
I do the same thing. I'm AA PLT, and will always choose AA over anybody else because of the fees I will avoid. But, sometimes I will check out WN when they have special offers ($130 r/t to ORD from FLL) when AA is abt $300 from MIA.

My case exactly, down to the same airlines. I will not, for example, fly UA because of, among other reasons, baggage fees that would have to be paid, even if it is by my company.


User currently offlineLincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (4 years 12 months 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 1718 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Thread starter):
Any other elites doing the same thing, or am I simply a cheapskate?

Yup-ish. Living in a CO hub city, and being supremely satisfied with the quality of product there's not really a reason for me to "sample" anymore anyway , but the fact that CO waives the bag fees for elites (and provides early boarding) has discouraged me from having "wandering eyes".

Like a really price concious weekend trip to PHL -- I probably could have beat CO's fare (in fact, I checked and know I could have) and given the short duration inflight amminities didn't really come into play but between earning miles, not being nickle and dimed, etc. I went CO



CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile
User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21511 posts, RR: 60
Reply 6, posted (4 years 12 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 1620 times:

So far, everyone agrees. In the broader view of things, an airline who offered to waive baggage fees for elites from the competition might win a lot of points in the goodwill market.

I also find it interesting that for some, even though their company is paying for the trip and would pay the fees without question, it's the principle of the matter that keeps you away from the other airlines.



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineUALFAson From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 721 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (4 years 12 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 1620 times:

Not only does it encourage elites to stay with their airline of choice, it also wrings more money out of the less-frequent flyers who are more likely (not always, but more likely) to be flying on cheap-o tickets anyway.

Airline #1 doesn't really care if a couple of snowbirds on their once-annual trip to Florida aren't happy with the fees. Let them take their business elsewhere next year. There's probably somebody over at Airline #2 who's just as unhappy, swearing they'll never fly that airline again and they're going to book through Airline #1 next year.

Yesterday or today AA announced another double-elite mile bonus for fall tickets. In this economy, it's all about keeping your elites happy. Airlines are barely hanging on as it is.



"We hope you've enjoyed flying with us as much as we've enjoyed taking you for a ride."
User currently offlineBlueFlyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3971 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (4 years 12 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 1609 times:
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Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 6):
I also find it interesting that for some, even though their company is paying for the trip and would pay the fees without question

Except our travel dept sent a company-wide email to let us know that our contract with airline 1 precludes us being charged fees, but not our contract with airline 2, so when all other things are equal, please fly with airline 1. All other things are not equal very often, but every bit helps, I suppose.



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineLincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 8
Reply 9, posted (4 years 12 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 1553 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 6):
I also find it interesting that for some, even though their company is paying for the trip and would pay the fees without question, it's the principle of the matter that keeps you away from the other airlines.

I'm in this boat... Part of it is the hassle; when I book the ticket I just forward the confirmation email to my office manager with the client/project reference and my part of the accounting is done. Any other expenses I have to provide a physical receipt/printout, mark the form of payment (Company AmEx, Company Visa, or Cash), indicate the total, and also note the client/project reference. Yeah, I'm lazy.

Just like I dispise hotels that charge for internet access (though not to the extent of some of the people quoted in yesterday's USA Today article; convenience/brand loyalty trumps annoyance) -- when I select a service I don't want to be hit with surcharges for things that have minimal incremental cost, are consumed by a large number of customers, etc... I'd much rather pay slightly more in the first place*

* - As a matter of fact, company policy dictates travel on full "Y" fares for project tavel (largely to avoid change fees); at least on CO even if I wasn't an elite as a full-fare pax I wouldn't be charged a bag fee; I don't know (Can anyone confirm) if this is true for any of the other airlines.

Lincoln



CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile
User currently offlineUALFAson From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 721 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (4 years 12 months 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 1452 times:



Quoting Lincoln (Reply 9):
I don't know (Can anyone confirm) if this is true for any of the other airlines.

I know it's true at UA and I would suspect at most other carriers as well. Usually first, biz, and full-fare economy pax are exempt from bag fees even if they don't have elite status.



"We hope you've enjoyed flying with us as much as we've enjoyed taking you for a ride."
User currently offlineCkfred From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 5222 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (4 years 12 months 4 hours ago) and read 1345 times:

My wife's employer has deals with both AA and UA, but they want employees in the Chicago office to fly UA. If AA is the same or cheaper, then she can fly AA.

Needless to say, since my wife carried over her AA gold status from her former employee, she has worked very hard to book with AA. Only once in a blue moon is UA significantly cheaper.

But by the time you add the baggage fees at UA, the fare is usually about the same as AA's.

This year, she hasn't traveled much due to a company push to reduce travel expenses, but she's flying a lot during September and October. Needless to say, with AA offering double elite-qualifying miles through mid-December, she's at least 2 trips to the West Coast, to get gold status for '10.

Besides the lack of fees, she loves breezing through the elite/FC security line, particularly at ORD and PIT.


User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22924 posts, RR: 20
Reply 12, posted (4 years 12 months 4 hours ago) and read 1334 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 6):
I also find it interesting that for some, even though their company is paying for the trip and would pay the fees without question, it's the principle of the matter that keeps you away from the other airlines.

As Lincoln mentioned, there's a significant practical issue on top of the principle. Much of my air travel is billed directly, and when it's not, I can usually just forward the confirmation email and get reimbursement. I HATE saving receipts and sometimes, if I have $20 or $30 worth of expenses (e.g. two bag fees), will not expense them just because it's a pain, even though that's probably not a rational economic decision.

One thing that would really help this is if airlines would permit passengers to pay bag fees at the time of booking. AFAIK, only airlines that bundle bag fees with a certain type of ticket (like AC and F9) do this. Many frequent travelers have a pretty good idea when they book whether they'll be checking bags, and I'm one of those. If I could pay the bag fee at the time of booking, I would be able to expense it at the same time I did the ticket itself, and I probably wouldn't think twice about flying a carrier with a bag fee.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineTravellerPlus From New Zealand, joined Nov 2008, 347 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (4 years 12 months 1 hour ago) and read 1281 times:

The disussion so far raises the question, is it the airline's fee waiver policy or the travel purchase manager who has a greater influence on loyalty? It would be interesting to see how many people reach elite status on personal travel vs small businesses with flexible travel policies vs how many reach elite status through corporate contracts.

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 12):
If I could pay the bag fee at the time of booking, I would be able to expense it at the same time I did the ticket itself, and I probably wouldn't think twice about flying a carrier with a bag fee.

This is how it works on the budget airlines in this part of the world. (Jetstar, Virgin etc) You can select a cheap fare online, then add a varety of services like baggage, extra leg room seats or- on longer flights- meal packages too. These can be done after the booking is finalised if need be. This simplifies things for both airline and customer as it removes complexity and costs whilst increasing yield.

[Edited 2009-09-04 14:28:38]


What goes around comes around....unless your luggage is not on the carousel...
User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22924 posts, RR: 20
Reply 14, posted (4 years 12 months 1 hour ago) and read 1280 times:



Quoting TravellerPlus (Reply 13):
This simplifies things for both airline and customer as it removes complexity and costs whilst increasing yield.

It does. I wish more airlines here would do it. The fact that reputable Australian airlines are doing it demonstrates that there's no technological reason it can't be done.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21511 posts, RR: 60
Reply 15, posted (4 years 12 months 1 hour ago) and read 1267 times:



Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 14):
It does. I wish more airlines here would do it. The fact that reputable Australian airlines are doing it demonstrates that there's no technological reason it can't be done.

I believe AC does this as well.



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22924 posts, RR: 20
Reply 16, posted (4 years 12 months 1 hour ago) and read 1259 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 15):
I believe AC does this as well.

 checkmark  AFAIK, they are the only such airline in South America, though.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineGxman From United States of America, joined Jan 2009, 93 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (4 years 12 months 1 hour ago) and read 1259 times:



Quoting TravellerPlus (Reply 13):
The discussion so far raises the question, is it the airline's fee waiver policy or the travel purchase manager who has a greater influence on loyalty? It would be interesting to see how many people reach elite status on personal travel vs small businesses with flexible travel policies vs how many reach elite status through corporate contracts.

We are a company of 5000+ employees worldwide. We don't have a preferred carrier so it is left to the individual traveler to choose his/her airline. I, and i would guess my colleagues, reach elite level by choosing to fly with a particular airline. We stay with that airline to continue earning elite status.



Steve
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