May 24, 2012 We Stand United
The Wall Street Journal published two critical pieces on the United Airlines merger. Both of the pieces focus on how United treats their elite status customers. (Full disclosure I am a United 100,000 mile elite member)
As I said in a previous post each airline focuses their program on different aspects on the customer experience. United was know for treating its elite members very well. This included providing hotel vouchers for top-tier elites during weather delays. This is something no airline is under obligation to do and most do not. Well the merger happened and United started to cut back the program.
Reaction was as expected, shock, horror and denial. The elites who commonly use the message boards Flyertalk.com and Milepoint.com are frankly disgusted with the changes. However, reaction to the changes has only enabled United to continue to cut benefits.
Let me explain.
United has made cuts both large and small, and both substantial and marginal. One of the largest cuts made has been the reduction in miles earned from 25% to 50%. This in my mind is the largest cut made by United to the Mileage Plus program. However, when you go on to Flyertalk and Milepoint, you will not read about this change. This is because they have become obsessed with the small changes.
United is working this situation to their advantage. United can take one of two routes to completely marginalize their entire elite population. They can ignore them and dismiss them as people who can not agree on anything. Second, United can give back on the small stuff an ignore the larger issues. Without surprise United has been doing both, and their stockholders couldn’t be happier.