Predictions of the end of air travel and life as we know it have reached a fever pitch in the wake of United Airlines’ announcement that it is implementing changes to MileagePlus that will make it a “revenue based” program in 2015. Emotional pronouncements have ruled the day with predictable vitriol. Here’s a prediction for you – 2 years from now, we will have all moved on and approximately 224.6 people on the planet will remember what the fuss was about.
First – travelers that are buying last minute high (or highish) fares should rejoice at these changes. I don’t completely fall into this category, but I’m close enough that after a math exercise, the numbers prove that I will be better off with SkyMiles 2015. I’ll say it again – if you aren’t getting reimbursed for the majority of your travel, stop bothering with elite status. Fly the airline with a schedule and price that meets your needs best.
Second – revenue based or not, you can leverage credit card rewards and all sorts of mileage earning opportunities to travel in style. Buy a ticket (le gasp) when it makes sense financially, and leverage the plethora of rewards opportunities out there that are available without ever setting foot on an airplane. For now at least, these opportunities abound.
Third – the airline that carries more passengers domestically than any other, Southwest, went revenue based a while ago. Last time I checked, they still carried more passengers than any other airline domestically. Wonder why? Because for what they do, overall, they’re easy to do business with and they don’t suck. If the changes afoot in the airline loyalty program world drive you to make more rational economic decisions for yourself, that’s a good thing.
-MJ, June 12, 2014