My own 2 cents on news from the past week that you may or may not have already heard.
Agree with my views? Disagree? Confused by something? Don’t want to hear about anything but hot deals, free stuff, or how to travel the world for free? Hit the comments and let me know!!!
Sprint. The news: Effective 10/01 SERO plan holders can upgrade to previously verboten phones like the Blackberry Curve or the Palm Pixi for an additional $10/month without having to forfeit their plans as Sprint had been previously requiring. 4G phones like the EVO and Epic are available for an additional $20/month.
Kudos on realizing that it’s bad policy to hold your customers hostage on grandfathered plans without any way to upgrade without losing the plan.
But why is this just for SERO plans? What about for the rest of us with grandfathered plans who have been with Sprint for years? You risk alienating your most loyal and long-term customers with the backwards policy. Not to mention that businesses with dozens of lines of service can’t simply change an entire plan to meet the whims of some employees. You’re throwing away the money these customers are willing to pay every month for the right to have a new phone as well as actively destroying your own brand loyalty. Poor customer service and even poorer management decisions like this are why you’re a distant third to Verizon and AT&T.
AA/BA. The news: Effective 10/01 you can finally redeem AAmerican AAdvantage miles for travel on British Airways between the US and London. And you can finally redeem BA miles for travel on AA across the Atlantic. You can also now earn full miles when flying on either carrier and Platinum and Executive Platinum members will earn 100% bonus miles as well.
Sounds good, no?
It’s great for people with BA miles. BA charges a fortune in “fuel surcharges” to redeem BA miles for travel on BA but they charge nothing to redeem BA miles for travel on their award partners including all of the OneWorld airlines. Now it’s easy to redeem your BA miles for travel across the Atlantic without getting raped by paying $500 for the privilege of flying BA through London.
But AA caved! They have never collected a fuel surcharge in the past on any award tickets, even when traveling on partners that themselves charge massive fuel surcharges. However now they will collect a fuel surcharge when redeeming AA miles for travel on BA. For now you can travel on AA or on other partners like El Al, Cathay Pacific, JAL, and Qantas without paying a fuel surcharge. Sure it’s extremely nice to be able to redeem on BA between the US and London, especially because they are ridiculously generous on First Class availability. But the cost of this agreement is great, it’s now going to be very hard to justify using AA miles for travel on BA, especially on a coach flight where using your miles will only get you a small discount off the flight instead of it being free!
It’s not devastating for AA miles yet. And I doubt AA miles will lose any value because of this rolling over to BA’s demands. But if it leads to AA charging a fuel surcharge for travel on any other carriers it may be time to abandon ship. Star Alliance is looking better and better by the day.
Confused about which airlines charge a fuel surcharge on award travel? The good news if that generally US based carriers never do, but I’ve been compiling a chart of the policies of 44 airlines on the Dansdeals Forums where you can read more about the murky policies of fuel surcharges.
I wish the offending airlines would just call them what they really are: Mileage co-pays. It has nothing to with fuel and everything to do with a deceitful cash grab that will ultimately kill the mileage cash cow that is now been the most (only?) profitable segment of the airline industry!
Continental/United. The news: Effective 10/01 the companies are merged. Continental’s former CEO is the new CEO of United Continental Holdings.
Additionally the new airlines announced on 10/01 that United’s clubs will now serve free alcohol and give free wi-fi to all guests. Continental’s clubs have already done that for many years.
The airlines will still operate separately for now. The mileage programs will likely be harmonized and merged sometime within the next 12 months.
The United name will stay, but the tulip will be replaced by Continental’s globe.
This has the potential to be a great airline or to go down the same crummy path that Delta took. Here are some of my questions for the new airline:
-Will the new airline adapt United’s evil Starnet blocking, United’s strict award routing rules, United’s no changes after departure on Star alliance awards, United’s lack of combination of Star and non-Star awards, United’s charges for routing changes on award tickets? Or will they stick to the more customer friendly policies of Continental?
-Will they keep Continental’s ridiculously cheap round-the-world awards or United’s overpriced round-the-world awards?
-Will the airlines keep United’s one-way awards with no stopovers or Continental’s round-trip awards with a stopover and open-jaw allowed? Will they keep United’s lack of expedite fees?
-Will the airline keep United’s absolutely dreadful International Call Center or go with Continental’s domestic call center?
-Will United’s flight attendants and gate agents rise above their past palpable and unpleasant bitterness under new and better management?
-Will they keep an elite tier at 75,000 miles like Continental has or eliminate it?
-Will United’s economy plus cabin stay around or will they eliminate it?
-Will they keep the excellent Continental.com or the barely-functional United.com?
Nobody knows yet, but we should know those answers within the next year!
In the meantime it appears like a great mileage opportunity has gone away. I have gotten the 25K Continental mileage bonus for opening a Chase checking account many times, but it appears that Chase will not be extending the promo again. A shame…
Be sure to grab the new Continental OnePass Plus card with all the premium benefits it carries and the 30,000 miles it comes with after spending just $1 before that is no longer offered either! Even with all the unknowns, that’s still going to be more than a free ticket or a good chunk of the miles needed for a free ticket to Israel! Gotta take advantage of all the Continental mileage opportunities that still exist before you’ll never be able to take advantage of them again!
On that topic I think it’s time I take advantage of my once-in-a-lifetime status match to move up to Continental Gold or Platinum. After all, Continental’s lifetime is in its twilight days…don’t hesitate to get as much out of the situation as you can before it’s too late…
Airtran/Southwest…Terrible in every way, but I already gave my 2 cents on the buyout in this post.
Amazon. Someone has just posted a comment claiming that he got a new diaper code (Y) in the November issue of Parents. Keep your eyes out for Parents and Parenting in November and get ready to load up on more free diapers!
LeBron. The “news:” LeBron and his agent whine about race being a factor in the negative publicity over his “decision”
LeBron, you pulled off the sleaziest escape from a sports franchise in the history of any game and broadcast the humiliating news on national TV. You planned the decision with Bosh and Wade for years but didn’t let Cleveland team management know in advance so that they could have a chance to salvage the team. You blatantly quit in last year’s playoffs series, lest you actually win and be compelled to miss out on “taking your talents to South Beach.” You were born and bred here in Northeast Ohio, yet showed up at the Indians-Yankees playoff series in Yankees paraphernalia.
LeTraitor, you are the least classy guy that exists in sports today and it has absolutely nothing to do with your skin color. Nothing!
But while we’re at it, I did at least get a kick out of the Steve Carrell spoof of your “decision.”