As the world begins a process of calculated and careful re-opening, it’s important to remember which airlines, hotels and car rental companies were your friends through the crisis.
Loyalty Is a Two-Way Street
Loyalty is always a two-way street. Airlines and hotels need frequent travellers to make their business run and keep fares low for leisure travellers. And frequent travellers rely on travel providers to make their businesses run and fulfill their dreams.
When airlines went through hard times in the past, they relied on their clients to carry them through. But loyalty is not always reciprocated. Maybe this time will be different, we always say.
Some Have Been Good to Their Customers
Let’s give some credit where it’s due.
Southwest enacted a policy whereby a ticket sold can be changed for free (standard policy) but (new and improved) without incurring a change in fare if you choose to move to another date. That’s incredible and we should all be buying tickets to destinations we frequent at their lowest possible price point for future travel.
Hyatt and Hilton were early to the party to let their frequent guests know they were valued by extending their status. United Airlines and Air Canada Aeroplan were innovative in their approach to cash travelers, though redemptions are a separate issue (see below.)
IHG was initially very responsive in reducing requirements and later adhered to industry-standard protocol.
Some Have Not Been Good Friends
Marriott has Bonvoyed its customers, again. They were last to offer easements to their many members and have been no friend to their customers. It’s no surprise, really. Someone at United, who did a great job in their approach to 2020 and 2021 loyalty, woke Scott Kirby up as United desecrated partner-earning policies enacted just months ago, then redefined the word cancellation.
We are coming to an end to this season. The curve has been flattened, states are re-opening in an overly cautious manner and things are returning to normal more so day by day. Remember who protected you, who empowered you when we were all in a terrible situation, and reward them for their actions. Equally, I suggest punishing those who acted with impunity.
What do you think? Are their travel brands you will remember and honor as you once again return to the world? Are there some egregious actions from companies I missed? Are there laudable actions I failed to mention?