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badice.com ~ musings for the masses

Yesterday I wrote about the United reward miles devaluation. The post focused on the change in the award redemption levels but I came across this post from Gabriel Leigh about how adding a level complexity to rewards is another piece of the devaluation puzzle.

However, and this is the important bit: the connection has to be one class of service lower than the longhaul segment on United. So a United business class booking to Frankfurt entitles you to economy on the Nuremberg connection. It’s just the sort of thing to exasperate thousands of unsuspecting Mileage Plus members when they call up to book a ticket. In a way, it gives you a break of sorts – you can book on partners in some cases when you have to, without paying more miles. But it’s also an unnecessary injection of complexity whose drawbacks are worse than its benefits, if you ask me.

I touched a little bit on this in my post but reading Leigh’s thoughts reiterated the idea that this creating a new complexity that will simply frustrate those who are not mileage runners or advanced mileage redeemers. I think the example Gabriel gives is a little too simple as a business class seat in most of Europe is really just a coach seat. Where it is going to get really frustrating for people is Asia. If I am flying Houston-San Francisco-Seoul on United metal and then connecting to Bangkok, Singapore, etc. on Asiana then I will have to fly that last segment in coach if I want the United mileage redemption price. That is a long segment (some upwards of 7 hours) in coach when redeeming a business class reward. When someone calls in because they found Asiana business class space for that one segment only to find out that they will have to pay the partner reward price, they are going to be a little irritated.

While there is a miles increase for partners, there is a complexity cost that only time will be able to measure.

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  1. November 4, 2013

    Certainly they should be irritated, but I wonder if they actually will be. I’ll hazard the guess that many simply don’t know what they should be charged on that type of itinerary so once it happens they won’t know to be annoyed.

    Another option could have been the bmi approach where the longest segment decided the rules, but that has similar potential to be annoying/confusing to customers.

  2. Stephan Segraves #
    November 5, 2013

    Both good points Seth. I think the latter option, the longest segment deciding the rules, is less confusing than what they are going live with. The announced rule seems to be confusing just to explain, let alone publish in the rules on the website.

    Another breaking point is the agents fully understanding the rules. I can see agents simply trying to charge more because there is a partner involved even if it auto prices.

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