Should Pregnant Women Be Allowed “Maternity Leave” on Elite Level Status?
C onsider this one of those topics about which I would never think. After all, I am a guy.
This article written by Morra Aarons — who is expecting her third baby and cannot travel as of November 13 — of Yahoo! Travel discusses how pregnant women will lose status in many frequent flier loyalty programs simply because they are pregnant.
“Knowing that many frequent flier programs have year-end deadlines for collection and rollover, I decided to call the programs in which I have status and see if I could put the deadlines on hold until I have the baby and am able to start flying again”, Aarons wrote. After some research, she found that:
- US Airways never makes exceptions for medical leave or maternity leave; and Aarons could not purchase the two segments needed to renew her elite level status
- American Airlines does not have a maternity policy but would let her repurchase status lost at the end of 2014
- Virgin America does not have any “maternity leave” policies
- Delta Air Lines does not have any “maternity leave” policies
- British Airways has an informal policy and offered to put her Avios frequent flier loyalty program points on hold if she sent in a note from a doctor, which she felt was reasonable
“Regressive policies like US Airways’ help keep women back”, opined Aarons. “Frequent flier status is a subject of near obsession for business travelers, and with good reason. It’s not about perks, but about making life on the road bearable. If you don’t have status in the world of airlines, you probably won’t make it out of Chicago in a snowstorm in time for that big meeting, or get home for your family. It’s a big deal.”
I suppose Aarons has a point; but the first thing which came to my mind is why should a hold be placed on elite level status for pregnant women? I experienced a significantly serious situation caring for a family member for greater than a year during which – with few exceptions related to this situation — I was pretty much grounded. What about someone who goes through a medical procedure which requires surgery and cannot travel?
By no means am I necessarily advocating that Aarons may not have a point. Perhaps pregnant women should be given a sort of “maternity leave” on their elite level status in their preferred frequent travel loyalty programs; but then I can see the aforementioned arguments arise by those who feel that their circumstances should allow them some sort of leave as well — and if so, where should the line be drawn?
“It’s time to rethink”, continued Aarons. “We live in a world in which 70% of women with children under 18 are in the labor force, women are primary or co-breadwinners in ⅔ of households and 40% of all households include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family.”
I can hear fellow elite level status members of frequent travel loyalty programs pronounce in a chorus of ensuring that that status needs to be more exclusive. The numbers above may be compelling that there could be a large population of people being — dare I say it — discriminated; but at the same time, those numbers suggest a potential dilution of that elite level status if “maternity leave” was granted for all of them.
As I said at the beginning of this article, this is one of those topics about which I would never think because I am male. I will never know what it is like to be pregnant and have some human plop out of my body. Just the thought of that image burned on my brain causes me to increase my respect for women who are pregnant and give birth; so what do I know about this?!?…
…which is why I am turning to you: what do you think? Does Morra Aarons have a point? Please do not read the comments of that article until you have formed your opinion first; then see if your opinion matches the majority of the comments posted by readers of that article.
Meanwhile, I have this sudden urge to venture off and go do some guy things…