Airing Out Unrewarded Loyalty
Is it any wonder that in a recent survey, four of the ten most disliked companies in America are airlines (Business Insider, 6/22/12)? The endless nicking, pecking and yes, gouging, of customers with miscellaneous fees grows tiresome to those of us who reward airlines with frequent travel. Unless you are up there in the stratosphere with the million mile club, the price for our loyalty keeps going up, as if we were no different than a first time flier.
A salient example is change fees, in my opinion the most corrupt practice in the industry. Charging such exorbitant fees for a five minute stroke on the computer, or less than $2 per labor hour prorated, hardly justifies a fee ranging from a couple hundred to $2000 (if done within a couple days of your original itinerary). What other industry can you think of that charges more than a nominal change fee? Amtrak does not charge a ticket change fee. Hotels don’t charge a fee if I change dates on my reservation. It is a short sighted policy – yes, they generate revenue initially, but how many labor hours do they spend on the ever expanding number of customer complaints? I would bet this expense dwarfs the fees collected, not to mention loss of customer loyalty, the lifeblood of any business.
Airlines don’t appear to “get it” about nurturing relationships with their loyal card holding clients. I pay a $395 annual fee for one of my airline credit cards; yet, a courtesy waiver of even a one-time change fee is “against policy”.
The conclusion I draw is that airlines do their utmost to alienate the most loyal customers by adhering to counterproductive rules.