On the subject of frequent flier miles, Gary says:
“Miles are evil. They create apathy on the end of the service
The he asks the real question:
“Have decades of frequent flyer programs instilled institutional apathy on the part of customer facing employees? Perhaps we are talking about apathetic DNA across entire corporations or even within the entire airline industry. If one believes customers won’t
leave even when treated poorly, where is the incentive to ‘step it up?’”
Back in the late 1990′s, I was flying weekly between Chicago and Palo Alto. 1,846 miles out on Monday, 1,846 miles back on Friday, week in, week out. I racked up hundreds of thousands of miles, was “1K” on United, got an upgrade every flight, and was willing to put up with a lot of their crap.
Flash forward a bit, and then I’ve moved to the Bay Area proper, and am no longer flying over 100,000 miles a year. Now, all the compensating behaviors have gone away from the United side since they no longer view me as a “high value” customer since I’m no longer part of their super-premier program. I’m still flying a lot, but not on a route that they have a lock on. And instantly, all the poor service that I used to tolerate became untenable.
Since that time, I may have flown on United half-a-dozen times in the last ten years.
So, it’s interesting. For me, it was less about “loyalty,” and just about the fact that I happened to frequently travel a route that they had a systemic lock on (since I was flying between two of their hubs).
I agree with Gary. The mileage program did nothing to induce “loyalty” for me. Once there were trips on other routes, all bets were off.