Randy says what’s old is new again and it’s déjà vu all over again.
Absence of Action
There’s really nothing to rally around this month—no new news from my constant vigilance of my Frontier EarlyReturns miles and benefits as Frontier attempts to define what type of airline they will be in the future.
So, turning to some of the more recent news, I realize that I am channeling Yogi Berra when I say “It’s déjà vu all over again” in looking at three recent news items. Not in any order, here we go:
1) What is it with cars and miles? Following recent news of Mercedes-Benz partnering with United MileagePlus, comes news that Volvo and Aeroplan are new best buds. Okay, I see the bonus miles when using a credit card for parts and service at Volvo dealers. I also notice a bonus offer for a test drive (please, act like you are interested in the car when queuing up for the test drive), but the most interesting thing to me is that the offer to earn 40,000-70,000 bonus Aeroplan miles for the lease, purchase or financing of select models is that the offer is only for last year’s models … 2013 model cars. Correct me if I’m wrong, but my local dealer already has 2014s on the lot, so either this is a typo or this is one of those times when Groupon gets mated with both the automobile and loyalty industry and tries to clear out old inventory. Checking the United/Mercedes-Benz page I find only 2014 model cars mentioned for earning bonuses, though there were earlier rumors or maybe even fact, that some 2013 models were included. Regardless, Volvo just wants to clear the back lot and is willing to use Aeroplan’s help. Volvo in Canada has been in a long decline having peaked in sales in 2005, and so far in 2013, is 21 percent down from same sales in 2012. This of course means that marketing guys and gals are trying new ways to stem a sliding market (and looking at U.S. sales, Volvo could use a similar frequent flyer partner near Detroit). Is the holy grail of economic stimulus that miles are the answer? I don’t know but can tell you this—the Volvo offer is only good until the end of October and in our December issue I’ll go back and analyze the sales stats for Volvo in Canada to see if Sept./Oct. trends saved Volvo.
2) Now for my next déjà vu adventure, I look at the trials and tribulations of none other than Annette Kwok who may be a little spoiled with this frequent flyer mile thing. It seems this Dividend Miles member has filed suit seeking class action for a situation whereby on a flight from DCA to BDL she received only 313 miles into her account for the flight when she believes she should have received 398 miles. Not sure what the basis of the case is because in our own test case, we could not even find the listed miles on the reservation system of US Airways. Looking the flight up on US Airways from Expedia yielded a flight distance of 319 miles (better …) but using the two indispensable web tools, Great Circle Mapper and WebFlyer, we find Great Circle Mapper stating a mileage distance of 313 miles and WebFlyer’s MileMarker stating 312 distance miles. None of the four research tools came close to the suggested 398 miles. However, I’m trying to help, so I looked to Mapquest and the driving distance (if the pilot was flying directly over the following Interstates on the way: 395/695/295/895/95/87/91) is only 355 miles. So, how do we arrive at 398 miles as claimed in this lawsuit? The only thing I can figure is that this is a mileage run gone amok. Which means that come Dec. 31, 2013, this Dividend Miles member may not re-qualify for Silver Prefered. The judge in the case has refused to dismiss it which means some of our legal friends on both sides will be eating well until this is settled. But is this worthy of a full-blown legal case? I personally don’t find fraud here on behalf of US Airways and historically I know that for every mile or two that I might not have earned from flight distances, I earn elsewhere. As for the déjà vu, United Airlines MileagePlus member Hongbo Han filed a similar lawsuit just months ago claiming that the airline was not giving passengers full credit for the miles they actually fly. Bottom line for me, there is no exact dynamic route that will award miles for each flight other than it is my hope that the next time I fly from DCA to BDL, I better get at least 313 credited miles. At first thought, I was thinking to opine that 500 minimum miles for short flights might have prevented this one, but changed my mind—members are driving these programs to being revenue based. Just sayin’.
3) And my final déjà vu comes to me from Delta SkyMiles, which has begun to sell travel packages to their passengers that offer a free piece of checked luggage, bonus SkyMiles, priority boarding and preferred seats. Excuse me if I just woke up from an experiment in cryonics but while new to Delta, let’s at least set the wayback machine to both United and American’s similar offers.
What a month—what’s old is new again.