Customer loyalty to airlines

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  • simeoncox
    Participant

    I am a Oneworld member of thirty-odd years. I have found my airline-specific loyalty program of benefit up until this March, when my only option for fully-paid flights was a credit shell. In my search for flights within the greater Asian region over the last two months, I note that prices quoted reflect reduced levels of service across the board: fewer flights, no lounge access, priority for high end / high-spend cabin selection, reduced in-flight amenities and services. I am reconsidering my loyalty to the airlines in which I have flown in the past. I am interested in hearing the views of others on the erosion of services and effect on brand loyalty; and views on the possible direction for loyalty programs.


    Inquisitive
    Participant

    Simple answer: don’t bother unless you travel a lot in economy class for business.

    If mostly travel in business class, most airlines business class products are so good and due to the fact that lounge access is available, there is not much benefits sticking to one. I personally stick to one to get higher tier of loyalty that helps during my economy class holiday trips But I take only 2 holiday trips per year and in case I don’t have lounge access, I can happily spend an hour at airport in holiday mood.

    If travel in economy class with high frequency for business, then it make sense to stick to a loyalty program as in some airlines one can accumulate good points even in economy class and that will help in lounge access or occasional upgrade.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    SimonS1
    Participant

    My loyalty to OneWorld ended about 10 years ago. That was the point at which I realised that “loyalty” was one sided and it was better to make choices based on picking an airline I liked that was flying to a destination when I wanted to travel.

    Propositions change fast so there is no need to be wedded to one provider (classic example ex UK is BA Club – over a decade flat beds went from market leading to tired and dated).

    Good question on direction….costs will need to be cut and personally I think it will hasten a tightening up. So that (for example) lounges are used by travellers that are either genuinely high value or in a premium seat (or most likely both) rather than those who fly frequently in cheap seats or know how to construct tier point driven schedules.

    In fact there may also be some unwinding of benefits – at present there is no incentive to up standards which means (for example) airlines having a quality lounge proposition become overcrowded with floating travellers at the expense of their own customers. Like LHR T3 where anyone with sense used Cathay lounge and avoided the mediocre BA facility.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    My loyalty remains firmly with Oneworld – perfect for my destinations. I also think loyalty is tested by frequent travellers trying to push the boundaries – why cant i have this, why cant i go in this lounge, why cant i change my tickets for no fee…. us frequent travellers never had it so good up until February this year. In return for the crowded T5 lounges, I can access some amazing Oneworld lounges around the world, endless supplies of decent whisky and plenty of decent and semi decent food offerings. Countless free flights in Europe through avios. Sure the loyalty programme doesn’t always work – gold upgrade vouchers being the prime example. But moving forward, i will firmly remain with Oneworld. BA have also been very generous with their covid 19 BAEC status retention scheme.

    I also agree airlines will have shrinking budgets and frequent traveller benefits may suffer especially in the short term. However, without sounding too dramatic we are currently in the midst of a world pandemic (even though some appear not to believe). I just laugh when I read articles about passengers complaining, for example the Virgin Clubhouse is closed because T3 is closed and Upper Class passengers now have a lesser prestigious lounge. (still not sure exactly who can travel on Virgin from London)…

    My primary hope and concern is for this awful world crisis to be resolved and for these threads to open up full of post covid 19 complaints about why BA did not take advantage of having so many aircraft grounded and not completing the new club world seat changes faster.

    Have a healthy and dry weekend everyone (London is very wet)…. my 10th non alcoholic week (trying to keep fit) and off to my favourite Japanese restaurant tonight… will the sake win???


    Swissdiver
    Participant

    It is probably not a time to make that kind of decisions. Airlines are mostly playing by the ear, having no clue of the evolution of the Covid-thing, therefore just trying to survive. They will all make mistakes, it is unavoidable. So making a move now would be like those car drivers changing lane in a trafic jam hoping to be marginally faster… Surely when that mess will be over, we will all be in a position to assess their respective behaviours and make educated decisions.

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    K1ngston
    Participant

    My loyalty remains firmly with Oneworld – perfect for my destinations. I also think loyalty is tested by frequent travellers trying to push the boundaries – why cant i have this, why cant i go in this lounge, why cant i change my tickets for no fee…. us frequent travellers never had it so good up until February this year. In return for the crowded T5 lounges, I can access some amazing Oneworld lounges around the world, endless supplies of decent whisky and plenty of decent and semi decent food offerings. Countless free flights in Europe through avios. Sure the loyalty programme doesn’t always work – gold upgrade vouchers being the prime example. But moving forward, i will firmly remain with Oneworld. BA have also been very generous with their covid 19 BAEC status retention scheme.

    I also agree airlines will have shrinking budgets and frequent traveller benefits may suffer especially in the short term. However, without sounding too dramatic we are currently in the midst of a world pandemic (even though some appear not to believe). I just laugh when I read articles about passengers complaining, for example the Virgin Clubhouse is closed because T3 is closed and Upper Class passengers now have a lesser prestigious lounge. (still not sure exactly who can travel on Virgin from London)…

    My primary hope and concern is for this awful world crisis to be resolved and for these threads to open up full of post covid 19 complaints about why BA did not take advantage of having so many aircraft grounded and not completing the new club world seat changes faster.

    Have a healthy and dry weekend everyone (London is very wet)…. my 10th non alcoholic week (trying to keep fit) and off to my favourite Japanese restaurant tonight… will the sake win???

    10th non alcoholic week Martyn?? As if the restaurant trade wasnt suffering enough in the UK without you going non alcoholic?? Well at least my whiskey is safe if you could get on a plane and enjoy the hospitality that is 🙂

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    FormerBA
    Participant

    My loyalty has wavered but in general I like one world if not BA.

    Last year I flew TK for the first time and was blown away by their superb service, outstanding food and the fabulous new hub in Istanbul. Because the very wisely allow family pooling of miles single trip to Asia in business generated sufficient miles for a good long haul business class flight. Consequently I had a choice recently for a quick get away to Dalaman and choose TK as BA were almost £500 more expensive. Now TK catering and service was not great but £500 to sit in Cramped Europe with a G&T was a step to far.
    I am now more than ever inclined to take the cheapest flight and that is just not BA, even from the EU anymore TK and QR seem to have a price battle in parts of Europe which suits me just fine. The trick is to get countries to open up again in a safe and secure manner and get the world moving again.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    simeoncox
    Participant

    Ah, last year…
    ~whistful look~

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    Mr Allan
    Participant

    I agree.
    I also will add that my BA loyalty has enabled me to fly the family for ‘free’ due to Avios miles for some nice holidays in places like Sth Africa and Costa Rica.
    I tended to travel a lot in economy for business as our rules were 10hrs or more for business. I could usually get Prem Eco for greater than 7 or 8hrs.
    Without brand loyalty I may have spent a lot more on family holiday flights.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    Interesting topic in these interesting times. Although I am not quite sure how simeoncox has been a 30-year member of an alliance that is only 21 years old 🙂

    And the reference to lounges being closed and travel within Asia – that rules out CX as their lounges are open (some of them, anyway) – and there are only two other Asian members. A number of JAL’s lounges are open too…

    ANYWAY…

    The two Asian airlines that we have status with have extended our status. That suits us just fine as with Junior Offspring having transitioned from boarding school to uni we no longer need to travel for half-terms, exeats and the like and would probably have lost status – this way, despite our reduced short-term travel plans, we get to hang on to that a little longer!

    Overall, although I am not thrilled by the reduction of service standards – much of which make no sense whatsoever – it isn’t going to change my loyalty to an alliance that has overall served me pretty well, although I acknowledge that this is largely because for most of the last quarter-century we have had the benefit of emerald status, which brings with it privileges that aren’t available with the other alliances.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    cwoodward
    Participant

    IanFromHKG wrote:
    “Overall, although I am not thrilled by the reduction of service standards – much of which make no sense whatsoever – it isn’t going to change my loyalty to an alliance that has overall served me pretty well, although I acknowledge that this is largely because for most of the last quarter-century we have had the benefit of emerald status, which brings with it privileges that aren’t available with the other alliances.”

    I fully agree with your post Ian. As it happens we as a family are in very much the same position for about the same length of time. We just managed,more by good luck than good judgement, to skweek back to HKG from a fully points funded business class holiday to Cape Town just before the shut down. As a family we are very HKG -five members and five different passport nationalities and it could have become very difficult had we been a coupleof days later.
    We packed number 2 son off to Canada at the time we believed the virus was probably an asian thing we things became bad in Canada and schools reopened in HKG we brought him back.He was very impressed with the on board Cathay service in PE given the difficult circumstances in which it was provided.
    I started flying with Cathay in 1973 and joined the Marco Polo club 1st of January 1976.Cathay have always be very good to me and it would be fair to say that i am very loyal to them and OneWorld.
    If I had advise to offer it would be to: Choose an alliance that suits you and stay with it particularly if you fly a lot. Over time the rewards of doing so become considerable and the loyalty becomes recognised and increasingly well rewarded.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    K1ngston
    Participant

    IanFromHKG wrote:
    “Overall, although I am not thrilled by the reduction of service standards – much of which make no sense whatsoever – it isn’t going to change my loyalty to an alliance that has overall served me pretty well, although I acknowledge that this is largely because for most of the last quarter-century we have had the benefit of emerald status, which brings with it privileges that aren’t available with the other alliances.”

    I fully agree with your post Ian. As it happens we as a family are in very much the same position for about the same length of time. We just managed,more by good luck than good judgement, to skweek back to HKG from a fully points funded business class holiday to Cape Town just before the shut down. As a family we are very HKG -five members and five different passport nationalities and it could have become very difficult had we been a coupleof days later.
    We packed number 2 son off to Canada at the time we believed the virus was probably an asian thing we things became bad in Canada and schools reopened in HKG we brought him back.He was very impressed with the on board Cathay service in PE given the difficult circumstances in which it was provided.
    I started flying with Cathay in 1973 and joined the Marco Polo club 1st of January 1976.Cathay have always be very good to me and it would be fair to say that i am very loyal to them and OneWorld.
    If I had advise to offer it would be to: Choose an alliance that suits you and stay with it particularly if you fly a lot. Over time the rewards of doing so become considerable and the loyalty becomes recognised and increasingly well rewarded.

    I agree with you cwoodward if said airline rewards sufficiently for your loyalty. Some have said that standards have dropped so much in BA that showing loyalty is not sufficient, interestingly enough I flew enough with BA in my time to become a life time Gold Card Member which actually suits me far better on OneWorld partner airlines here in Asia, specifically Cathay, Malaysian, Qatar and JAL who always treat me brilliantly as a BA Gold…. funny ol world really!! As for travel today my loyalties will be with SQ as I will be based there again and any other airline within the OW space …..


    simeoncox
    Participant

    “I started flying with Cathay in 1973 and joined the Marco Polo club 1st of January 1976.”

    Similar profile, but I don’t fly CX much.

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