While I still remain generally loyal to one carrier, the evolution of my Apple Wallet is a great indicator of how much I truly value airline loyalty.
Being the packrat that I am, I save all my boarding passes in Apple Wallet, a handy iPhone app that centrally stores them. It gives me a great look into my flight history over the years, often bringing back good (and bad) memories.
For years, my Apple Wallet looked like this:
That’s right, all United Airlines, all the time.
But here’s how it looks for my travel over the last month or so:
The Waning Value of Airline Loyalty
The Apple Wallet is just an illustration of a broader trend: loyalty is just not what it used to be.
When it comes to meaningful changes to airline loyalty programs, it seems that for every one step forward there are two steps back.
I won’t signal any airline out, because all airlines are guilty of this (some more than others). Have you miles become more valuable or less over the last few years? Undoubtedly less. Frequent flyer miles are like automobiles, a depreciating asset. That’s why I always recommend to earn them and burn them. Points and miles are not a nest egg, but a commodity to be used sooner rather than later.
And the fact that airline loyalty programs are not nearly as generous as they once were has led me to be totally willing to be a free agent. That’s why I flew Alaska, American, and Hawaiian recently, Alitalia instead of Lufthansa, and EasyJet instead of SWISS.
I’ll decide on schedule and price first, then airline second. That’s the reality of loyalty in 2019.
Where do you find yourself when it comes to airline loyalty? Are you generally loyal to one carrier, like me, but always willing to deviate under the right circumstances? What would an airline have to do to make you inflexibly loyal?
I barely fly enough to earn Platinum on United each year (I’m 99% domestic travel originating from DEN so no flights more than 1,500PQMs). All of my trips are with them. The status is worth more to me than the miles when running into delays, changes, etc. If I traveled enough to earn 1K and then some…yeah I would have more flexibility.
However, you should be a bit more honest here since your travel patterns have obviously evolved and you now find yourself flying a lot of intra-EU flights where UA is not an option. So this change is not simply an evolution of your loyalty.
I’ll concede that, but there are recent flights on Hawaiian, Alaska, and American too.
According to Kirby the schedule is the product.
Yes. Especially in the last two years. The devaluations at United along with relocating + discovering just how much better Delta is makes me not want to get 1K anymore. I’ve been flying Delta more than United.
When loyalty means less, airline quality and convenience takes precedence.
My “loyalty” to United is a result of living in Denver and typically going to Germany when I have to go abroad for work. So it’s more of a hostage situation than a desire to fly their product.
Any reason to be loyal to the domestic carriers died years ago thanks to all the “enhancements” to both the on-board product and the mileage programs themselves. Dynamic award pricing was the final nail in the coffin; now that I’ll soon have a travel schedule constrained by a child’s school schedule, there is zero reason to stick with AAdvantage/MP/SkyPesos when I know going in I’ll need more points than I can possibly accrue in a lifetime to actually redeem for 3 seats during school holidays.
Transferable points currencies are the way to go. I book what gives me the best combination of convenience and value, put it on a card that earns bonus points for travel, and then transfer to a program to redeem for what I want when I need it.
Do you never remove old boarding passes?
Wow, that’s impressive. I very often show TSA the wrong boarding pass, so I keep my apple wallet lean and clean.
BTW, any plans to do a piece on the released plans for Terminal 0 and 9 at LAX?
I have over 2 million miles on United. I am flying a little less and didn’t make 1K for 2019 year (by one long flight). Now that they have raised the requirements, I won’t see that again.
With the 2M miles, I am platinum for life, I have little incentive to fly United if I can find a better route/fare on a different airline.
I’m with you Matthew. Still a 1K with United but with every year they are getting less of my spend. An I’m spending more for my tickets to fly international business class. So I’m rapidly becoming an Elite in British Airways and soon Flying Blue. I personally don’t care about domestic upgrades in the US so I’d rather credit to British Airways and not have to deal with EQM. With the kind of business class tickets I buy it really only takes two roundtrip Atlantic flights and you’ve got decent status in case of IROPS. United in particular is ticking me off with changes happening only 10 months apart in their program.
Think we all know that when a recession. hits the gutting of the frequent flyer programs will badly hurt these airlines. There is no more loyalty. Fly whatever airline gives you the best service for the price you are willing to pay. And please enjoy the variety and experience of flying different airlines.