You heard it here first, MJ on Travel is less loyal than he used to be. Don’t get me wrong, there are still travel providers that I prefer more than others (two of which will be featured in this post), but in the last year I’ve stopped being “blindly loyal” to any company. Much has been made of “revenue based” airline programs, award chart disappearances, and various other sundry things that have been done over the last year or 3. Admittedly, I’ve come off as indifferent, out of touch, or an apologist depending on who you talk to. Granted, I’m an airline ops guy first, and a bit of everything else further down the line. Of course, it’s still true that I was flipping credit cards before I knew “flipping credit cards” had a name.
Yesterday, as I sat on my third Southwest Airlines flight in just over 2 weeks, I began to feel reflective. Sitting in coach (OK, it’s all coach) as the mass of Southwest humanity walked by finding their spot, I couldn’t help but think “why doesn’t this annoy me?” The truth – that mass of humanity isn’t that much different than I would have experienced boarding any other airline’s flight, and frankly, I find the Southwest boarding process to be the most orderly and easy to tolerate of all if I’m seated in coach. Coach happens to be where I spend the majority of my mostly domestic flight time of late. We departed on time and arrived early. Life was good. I didn’t get an exit row to myself this time, but how much does one really need on a random 1.5 hour flight?
But there’s more to life than airlines. Hotels are in this too. There’s Hilton’s famous devaluation, of course, but let’s talk about Marriott’s most recent announcement. I know I’m in the minority in the bloggerverse, but I’ve been a fairly reliable Marriott customer over the years. The reasons vary, but they happened to be where I needed to stay, provide fairly consistent service, and can be relied upon seems to sum things up best. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way because they win their fair amount of Freddies too. Expiring points aren’t really a problem for me since I have activity, but they are a symptom of the times we’re in. Much like SkyMiles, I’ve spent most of the Marriott points I have….a few days in Paris prior to a trans-Atlantic cruise from Barcelona in case anyone is wondering. Of course, just as much like Delta, this doesn’t mean I won’t be partaking of the product, it just means I don’t care anymore. I’ll stay at Marriott when it makes sense……period.
In the end, neither Delta or Marriott care what I’m saying here because they don’t have to….right now. I don’t feel like either company “hates me” and I certainly won’t avoid them at all costs. In fact, I think both are great at what they do and I look for opportunities to use them. The thing is, there are other companies that provide similar services with similar, and sometimes better quality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Delta didn’t notice I flew Southwest yesterday and Marriott could care less that I spent a night at Kimpton last week, but I did. In the past, I’ve overlooked the little things just to get the points, the step closer to “status,” etc. No more. Further, I’m convinced something is about to happen in loyalty, especially the airline programs, and it might not be that different than the 3-hour tarmac delay rule. Like much of life, unintended consequences will abound, so I’ve moved on to my new loyalty program. 2015 is all about my personal loyalty program….loyal to me. I can’t be the only one.
-MJ, February 28, 2015