Why I Won’t Blog (Often) About the Idea of Revenue Based Frequent Flier Programs

I’ve really enjoyed reading Gary’s analysis and thoughts about Delta’s recent award chart change which led into a discussion about revenue based frequent flier programs. I won’t call him right or wrong, I’ll only say you should read what he says if you haven’t already. I don’t even have anything to say about what Delta did. Actually, I have plenty to say about that and revenue-based programs. The reason I stay away from the discussion is that there are a plethora of blogs out there talking miles and points to no end. Gary’s blog, is of course, the patriarch…and the granddaddy of them, and one I read every day. I just don’t think I’d have that much to add to what he and the other handful of top bloggers have to say in this debate. I am always glad to discuss my thoughts on these things when I see you in person at any of the frequent flier events.

I do have to say that I think many fliers over-estimate the bottom line contributions of the various mileage schemes to the profitability of airlines. I’m not saying that they are not profitable, I simply don’t think they are “beyond your wildest dreams” profitable. Just my opinion. Here’s another opinion for you. Revenue based programs are coming to an airline near you. Personally, I began to ponder the possibility of revenue-based programs with Delta’s introduction of “pay with miles” a few years ago. All indications are that Delta is very likely to make a move in this direction at some point in the future.

Personally, I think the other airlines will let them go first and see what happens. If the world doesn’t stop spinning, it is a virtual certainty that the other airlines will begin to follow suit. Whether that’s good for them or not, I don’t know. Rumors are that some of them seem to think revenue-based is a good idea. Only time will tell. I hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does, I will still find a way to play…. and you can take that to the mileage bank.

About Marshall Jackson

Marshall Jackson is a former airline pilot, grounded by diabetes. After spending several years in operations management, he exited the airline business for a more stable career. But that hasn't dampened his interest in airplanes, airlines and travel in general.

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  1. Too bad you don’t think your opinion is worth sharing. Just because Gary has been around a long time doesn’t mean he knows what is correct in every case. This is certainly one of them.

    It would suck for us, to be sure. But pretending that we are “normal customers” to the airline is silly.

  2. @Seth,

    Oh, I think it’s worth sharing…I just won’t share it here. I have my reasons. 🙂 And being afraid that I’m wrong is not one of them! I think change is a coming. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to make things work for us when revenue based programs inevitably arrive.

  3. Things will only work if the banks, or others, offer “free” points/miles, or the operators provide tremendous promos. Virtually nothing from WN or hotel programs in the past two years has motivated me to fly or stay more than I really need to (in the case of WN, not a single flight since RR2 launched).

    This would apply to any scheme resembling RR2, VX Elevate, or B6 TrueBlue. I won’t bother with a program providing only a 10% rebate. “Good Deal Premium Fares” or ancillary revenue buy-ups may make sense on a trip-by-trip basis, but long-term loyalty? Fuhgetaboutit.

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