Ok, if this has been discussed before, sorry, but driving home from work I came up with an idea that may solve the cash crunch at the US airlines.
Charge members for belonging to the FF programs.
I am going to use UA as an example. I read somewhere that UA Mileage Plus has around 22 million members. UA does not charge a fee to belong to Mileage Plus. If memory serves me right, a lot of other airlines charge for their FF programs, I know that QF does, AN used to, and I am sure others do, but I am not positive on that. Now for my example
Let's assume that UA charges $100 per year to belong to Mileage Plus. 22 million members equals $2.2 Billion extra revenue. Now assuming that half of the members balk at $100, you still end up with an extra billion in revenue.
I believe that AAdvantage is even bigger, so AA would reap even more from this plan. That in itself would take care of most of the financial problems, provided everyone paid the annual fee.
Of course this extra revenue, cannot be counted on, and the airlines must not go spending this money on expansion or wasted projects, e.g. Avalor. Also the airlines might want to give a year's membership in the FF if you are a member of the airline club. (those go for $400 a year anyway). Maybe also let you buy the membership with miles.
Now I know that this wouldn't be popular with the leisure passenger, but I for one wouldn't mind coughing up $100/year for a FF membership, if it meant I could get the Award seats when I wanted them. My guess is that the number of people trying to get award seats would go down, as people dropped out of the program. Plus this would probably help offset the costs of administering the program, and help control those of us with over 1million miles in our accounts, who never get to use them. I guess I would leave it up to the business types to figure out how much to charge for the FF program.
So here is my question to you. How much would you be willing to pay for a FF membership? and Do you think this would work in the US?