The 2013 FlyerTalk Awards: Could bmi diamond club Have Won in a Category?
As voting for the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards — sponsored by KAYAK — continues to be under way through February 15, 2013, some FlyerTalk members loyal to British Midland International wondered whether their beloved diamond club frequent flier loyalty program would have won a category had it been in the running.
Prompted by a poll posted in the bmi diamond club forum — since deleted, as the diamond club frequent flier loyalty program no longer exists due to the sale of British Midland International, better known as bmi — which originally solicited FlyerTalk members to choose the benefits of the diamond club that were unique when compared to other frequent flier loyalty programs, FlyerTalk members conjured up some fictitious categories in which diamond club could possibly have won, including but not limited to:
- Most outrageous routing
- Most likely to be arrested as a result of diamond club
- Highest velocity of Twix received inflight
- Most ginger biscuits purloined from the lounge
- Number of engine failures experienced on G-WWBM, which is a particular Airbus A330-243 aircraft
- Longest time spent in the Far East of Russia
- Highest number of flights in a row achieved with consistent service
- …and — sadly, as a tribute to its memory — a posthumous award
I will add one for bmi diamond club: an apparent aversion to upper-case letters, perhaps?
While much of that list — as well as the possibility of the bmi diamond club frequent flier loyalty program winning a category in the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards — was more levity and not really serious, it had me wondering about other defunct airlines and whether or not their frequent flier loyalty programs would have won when compared to the frequent flier loyalty programs which currently exist. The month of January alone heralded a spate of changes in frequent travel loyalty programs which have generally been perceived as negative by FlyerTalk members — and FlyerTalk member DOUDOU1980 laments that 2013 is already off to a bad start.
In fact, think back to what service was like on airlines back in the 1970s, if you can remember that far. These were the days before frequent flier loyalty programs in their present form existed — but were those days actually better?
Or, we can fast forward a bit to the 1980s and 1990s, where the following frequent flier loyalty programs once existed before mergers, acquisitions or airline failures — including but not limited to:
- Trans World Airlines — or TWA — Aviators, originally known as Frequent Flight Bonus
- Pan Am World Airways WorldPass
- Ansett Australian Global Rewards
- LatinPass/GlobalPass, shared by ten airlines in Latin America
- Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways and Malaysia Airlines Passages
- Air France Fréquence Plus
- Northwest Airlines WorldPerks
- KLM Flying Dutchman
- Eastern Airlines and Continental Airlines OnePass
- America West FlightFund
- Aloha Airlines AlohaPass
- Sabena and Swissair Qualiflyer
- Canadian Airlines Plus
- Mexicana Go
The OnePass frequent flier loyalty program — in which at one time I was a top-tier level elite member — treated me really well with benefits which no frequent flier loyalty program would dare attempt today. I experienced everything from unexpected upgrades to free merchandise. Those days are long gone.
I get it: airlines have a limited number of seats on a limited number of aircraft on which to grant its members perks and benefits. We all cannot get that elusive upgrade — at least not 100 percent of the time. At the same time, operating an airline consumes a substantial amount of capital, so upgrading an entire fleet of aircraft on items which do not immediately enhance the actual economics of running an airline — such as with increased comfort with all of the seats or improved service from flight attendants — can be risky at best. Let us not forget to add the intense amount of government regulations which strictly bind airlines from doing whatever they feel like doing.
Lodging companies seem to fare much better: when was the last time you learned of a leading hotel chain going out of business or hearing about a major frequent guest loyalty program ceasing to exist? Would you count Harvey House, Promus Hotels Corporation or Adam’s Mark hotel chains? Those are few and far between when compared to airlines and their frequent flier loyalty programs.
Car rental companies have taken a different tact with the apparent illusion of many different rental car companies — each with their own frequent car rental loyalty programs — which in reality are consolidated into a few larger companies:
- Dollar Rent a Car and Thrifty Car Rental were acquired by The Hertz Corporation last year
- National Car Rental, Alamo Rent a Car and Enterprise Rent-a-Car are part of Enterprise Holdings
- Budget Rent a Car is part of Avis Rent a Car System, LLC
It is like a walk on a tightrope for airlines, to be sure: how does an airline balance what it is required to do with what it needs to do in order to provide the proper balance of government compliance and profit and cash flow with the highest satisfaction amongst its passengers, whether they be occasional customers or frequent fliers?
One of the purposes of awards such as the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards is to help bring an awareness to companies which offer a frequent travel loyalty program in some form about what members and frequent travelers want — and I believe that awareness by airlines, car rental companies and lodging companies can actually be more powerful that the winning of the prize itself — if they listen to the messages which their customers are trying to tell them.
I have heard the same speeches over and over again by those who represent the companies accepting the awards: “We are honored to win this award — and we can assure you that we will do everything we can to keep improving our program moving forward. We appreciate your loyalty. Thank you!”
…but do they really mean that?!?
I do not recall anyone posting “Good riddance!” to the bmi diamond club frequent flier loyalty program when learning of its demise. I am not saying no one has ever felt that way; perhaps I missed it. However — if the bmi diamond club was really revered by its members, would it not stand to reason that perhaps the executives of other frequent flier loyalty programs could possibly learn something from it and adopt at least one of the benefits to its own program?
What do you think? Are there any benefits from frequent travel loyalty programs which are now defunct which could be applied to any of the frequent travel loyalty programs which currently exist — or is it possible that some of those benefits which customers once enjoyed have contributed to the demise of the defunct airlines? Would the frequent travel loyalty programs which no longer exist be able to compete — and possibly even win — in the 2013 FlyerTalk Awards?
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 — and when you vote, your profile shows a nifty little badge indicating that you voted. 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.