Should There Be an Award Category for Worst Program?
As you may already know, voting for the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards — sponsored by KAYAK — is currently under way through February 15, 2013.
However, FlyerTalk member Carolinian wonders why there is not an award category for the worst frequent travel loyalty program, thinking that “we should offer the airlines both the carrot and the stick in seeking to encourage them to improve, not disembowel programs. We are burying our heads in the sand if we think everything these days is positive with ff changes.”
Perhaps Carolinian has a point. There have been a spate of changes in frequent travel loyalty programs as of late which have generally been perceived as negative by FlyerTalk members, including but by no means limited to the following — all of which happened this month alone:
- Being charged a $40.00 fee just to board earlier on Southwest Airlines flights
- Increases in the redemption requirements of the Cash & Points offering by Starwood Preferred Guest
- A revenue component added to the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program of Delta Air Lines — along with a significant reduction in Medallion Qualification Miles earned on certain fairs on partner airlines towards elite status
- An apparent point redemption increase of 281.25 percent with no advance notice for certain awards in the Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program for some hotel properties in New York — although that has since been somewhat rescinded
- The implementation of changes in the boarding process on United Airlines
- The substantial restructuring of the reward night chart of the Priority Club Rewards frequent guest loyalty program of InterContinental Hotel Group with little advance notice — although there is a grace period of two months
- First class awards on Lufthansa are no longer an option for Dividend Miles frequent flier loyalty program members of US Airways, with no advance notice
- A significant reduction of the number of elite qualification miles earned on certain airfare classes on select partner airlines in the MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program of United Airlines
It seems almost as though frequent travel loyalty programs are racing with each other in who can trim the most benefits to their members with little or no notice. If this is the case, should there be an official recognition — as in awarding a frequent travel loyalty program as being the worst?
FlyerTalk member kokonutz thinks so: “I’d be down with a miles and points program version of the Razzies.
“A great idea for some motivated FTer!
- Biggest devaluation in mile/point value
- Biggest devaluation of elite benefits
- Biggest elimination or reduction of awards
- Program with most difficult to obtain awards (split into free travel/nights and upgrades!)
- Worst overall program
“That would be fun!”
On the other hand, FlyerTalk member tkey75 notes that “Awards are to bestow kudos for good behavior. Not punish bad behavior.”
Frankly, I am not sure about this one. I have been to a number of award ceremonies for frequent travel loyalty programs — heck, I was even a part of them, organizing them, spoke at them, and personally presented awards myself to the winners after announcing them for at least two years. I have witnessed first-hand the excitement and jubilation from the official representatives of the frequent travel loyalty programs chosen to receive the award won by them. There is the acceptance of the award, the photographic opportunity, and the thank-you speech at the podium before returning to the table with their colleagues who are thrilled — as they should be…
…but is the recognition and excitement of winning an award incentive enough for a frequent travel loyalty program to prevent them from implementing changes in policies and rules considered unfriendly to their customers during the rest of the year?
I would say yes with some trepidation, arguing that awards such as the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards also bring an awareness to those who participate by voting — and I believe that awareness by the members is actually more powerful that the winning of the prize itself. I know that when I voted in the the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards a couple of days ago, I had to think about each frequent travel loyalty program for which I had to choose in each category in each region before giving my official vote.
With that thought process, would an award category for the worst frequent travel loyalty program similarly bring about an awareness amongst members of frequent travel loyalty programs — and perhaps to official representatives of frequent travel loyalty programs as well?
What do you think? Should there be an award category for the worst frequent travel loyalty program, whether it is genuine or satirical?
While you think about it, please vote for your favorite frequent travel loyalty programs in the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards if you have not already done so. You can find out additional details about the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards, including the categories and geographic regions under which the best frequent travel loyalty programs can qualify to compete and win.