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Frequent Flyers, anyone?
Old 06-17-2009, 12:16 PM   #1
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Frequent Flyers, anyone?

For those of you who fly often (say 2-3 times per month) in retirement are you fairly satisfied with the quality of service? I am certainly NOT, but wonder if I've just developed into a cynical curmudgeon.

My experience over my first few years of retirement, is that the airlines have attained a pinnacle of ineptitude and a zenith of "don't care". They literally seem to have the attitude that "if you are dissatisfied, don't let the door hit you..".

I have had several ruined trips recently due to flight delays and the airline is totally indifferent and very smugly tell me "sir, we are responsible for nothing, read the ticket".

It's the worst ever in my 45 years of flying.

Is anyone else seeing this?
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:59 PM   #2
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For all the full service carriers, I agree. For Southwest (a "budget" airline), they are pretty good. Oddly enough Southwest actually offers a higher degree of service than the "full service" carriers do now.

I don't fly a lot though - perhaps a few times a year (mix of business and pleasure).
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Old 06-17-2009, 01:54 PM   #3
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For me, flying takes a lot of pleasure out of traveling nowadays... I never particularly enjoyed it, but now I really loathe it. DW is a frequent flyer (platinum status), and she just about had it too. Thankfully, her company has just eliminated all non-essential travel...
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Old 06-17-2009, 02:36 PM   #4
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Frequent flyer here - should be making my 34th segment of the year soon! Winter is especially bad since no flight is on time thanks to frequent snow storms. If the flight is an hour late I feel pretty lucky. Just am glad there is sudoku...
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Old 06-17-2009, 02:42 PM   #5
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I am increasingly drawn to vacation options that don't require flying. I go on vacation to relieve stress, and the hassles of flying do anything but.

Every time I fly, I hate flying even more.
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Old 06-17-2009, 02:46 PM   #6
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I think I have determined my maximum acceptable ratio of flight time to days of vacation. It is around 2 hrs flight time per day of vacation. So I might do New York or Miami for a 2-3 day weekend trip, but Las Vegas or West Coast USA is minimum 5-6 days. Based on this rule, Europe is an 11 day minimum stay. I guess I will never make it to Asia, since I would have to stay close to a month.
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Old 06-17-2009, 03:01 PM   #7
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I've given up on the "frequent flyer" miles. I did most of my business traveling with Delta and built up quite a few miles; however, when you wanted to redeem the miles for a free ticket there was always a problem. I have actually experienced this case; needed wife and myself to fly up north for funeral. Delta said no frequent flyer seats available at any time on any flight to get us there in time. I researched their flights on line and there were seats unsold on a number of flights that would have taken us there. Delta says that even though there are empty seats on a given flight, they can't give those to frequent flyers. Only so many seats on a given flight are reserved for frequent flyers and that's it. After much bitching, would you believe that Delta got us to our destination but on a different airline. Delta would not put us in their empty seats but got us on Northwest that had some frequent flyer seats available. Somehow the airlines work together with regard to frequent flyer seats. It just got me wondering why I go through this all the time so I cancelled my Delta credit card for miles and just look for the lowest rate and take my chances on bereavement flights.
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Old 06-17-2009, 03:13 PM   #8
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I've given up on the "frequent flyer" miles.

...

... It just got me wondering why I go through this all the time so I cancelled my Delta credit card for miles
Me too. The "base" 25,000 mile award is often not available and when it is, it's a red-eye with two stops or requires 6 AM departure and/or midnight arrival. Want decent times? Pony up 50,000 miles (or points).

25,000 points with a rewards credit card usually requires spending $25,000. But using my Schwab Visa with 2% cash back on everything, spending $25,000 would get me $500 cash back, which can usually pay for the flight that costs 50,000 points to book and then some.

With 2% cash back on every charge and no strings or gotchas attached, just give me the cash.
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Old 06-17-2009, 05:30 PM   #9
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OK, good. It appears I'm not the pathetic old cynical curmudgeonly complainer that my friends say I am. Whew.

I still want to travel and I am determined not to let the airline industry deprive me of that joy. But I nearly break out in a sweat when I think of the ordeal that flying has become.

Flying was not always that way. Piedmont Airlines is still a great memory.

In larger cities, flying means usually a $30-40 cab ride, highly congested curbside, then same for check-in, then the grind of security, then the overpriced $9 sandwich or salad out of a vending machine basically. Then the brawl to get on board so you have room for your free piece of luggage. Then the mentally challenged flyers who cannot figure out that the seats are numbered 1 thur 30something, from front to back. Then the sweaty behemoth beside you (not the wife). And then to top all, the excuse why we missed out take-off slot and will remain at the gate for another hour. And if they can, they will find a way to make that the passengers fault. "Unsually long boarding process."

OK, how do we fix this? Would an organized write-in to each airline work?
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Old 06-17-2009, 05:51 PM   #10
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............ Delta got us to our destination but on a different airline. Delta would not put us in their empty seats but got us on Northwest that had some frequent flyer seats available. Somehow the airlines work together .........
Delta owns Northwest
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Old 06-17-2009, 05:54 PM   #11
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................OK, how do we fix this? Would an organized write-in to each airline work?
Good luck with that - the airlines are in only slightly better shape than the auto companies.

I agree though, and the Greyhound bus is starting to look better all the time.
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:08 PM   #12
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Travelover, I would have chosen that name if I could have. I retired with travel lust in my heart, I admit that here, yes, LUST.

The airlines have literally beaten the travelibito out of me. My travelust is waning.

I have so many FF miles with United that I hope they stay in business but as soon as I can use them, if ever, United's collapse would thrill me. I have been Premier Executive all my adult life. But, I cannot get FF miles redeemed for any destination other than Dayton and Fresno, pretty much. And those are red-eyes.

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Good luck with that - the airlines are in only slightly better shape than the auto companies.

I agree though, and the Greyhound bus is starting to look better all the time.
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:49 PM   #13
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Delta owns Northwest
They didn't five years ago.
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:53 PM   #14
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Travelover, I would have chosen that name if I could have. I retired with travel lust in my heart, I admit that here, yes, LUST.

The airlines have literally beaten the travelibito out of me. My travelust is waning.

I have so many FF miles with United that I hope they stay in business but as soon as I can use them, if ever, United's collapse would thrill me. I have been Premier Executive all my adult life. But, I cannot get FF miles redeemed for any destination other than Dayton and Fresno, pretty much. And those are red-eyes.
Funny you mentioned Dayton. That's where we were going for that funeral. I'm thinking "nobody goes to Dayton". Apparently they were that day.
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:59 PM   #15
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OK, how do we fix this? Would an organized write-in to each airline work?
I hate to say it, but I think the only answer is "demonstrate a consistent willingness to pay more for higher quality service."

When we view air travel as a commodity where the lowest bidder gets the business, crappy service is a natural outcome.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 06-17-2009, 08:08 PM   #16
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Ziggy29, I looked at Seattle to Paris airfares using Bing. I'm very flexible, can go anytime, so I chose 7 days out, 14 and 21. Anything inside 7 days looked like $2000+ RT, at 7 days it dropped to $1200 and stays there.

That seems like well enough money to provide me quality service. And if they sold out the 300 seat plane, we are riding a nearly 1/2 million dollar plane. "Peanuts, miss sorry to ask but can I get a tiny bag of peanuts, $5?, err can I get one of the $5 waters to go with it. Oh, and sorry to inconvenience you with that request."

But they choose to jack that inside 7 day fare up in order to discourage last minute buying. Nice thinking, they can fly it nearly empty and save on gas. Good business model. Kinda like raising the cost of movie tickets to $100 within 5 minutes of start time. Keeps the theater from overheating due to body heat.

They just do not have it right, methinks.

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I hate to say it, but I think the only answer is "demonstrate a consistent willingness to pay more for higher quality service."

When we view air travel as a commodity where the lowest bidder gets the business, crappy service is a natural outcome.
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Old 06-18-2009, 10:27 AM   #17
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Domestic (US based) airlines service is deteriorating constantly.
If I have a choice for long hauls I prefer to fly international. Much better service and willingness to accommodate passenger requests. Especially with Asia based airlines.
Case in point, two weeks ago we we flying Finnair from JFK to Helsinki. The lady at the Finnair counter apologized that they don't have bulkhead seats available for us (we wanted one for the bassinet/cradle) and put all 5 of us in First class with fully reclining seats. You bet Little Sailor was happy playing with bed up - bed down (so was the Sailing Wench, but fortunately she fell asleep two hours after take off).
And yes - I hate Delta shenanigans about their FF seats availability, including releasing them few days before departure to force you to pay redemption fees and false availability of Lowest tier award and when you try to book you get the message that that fare is unavailable.
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Old 06-18-2009, 10:33 AM   #18
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I used to fly a fair amount while w*rking, and air travel was going from bad to worse then (prior to 2007).
dh2b travels (domestic) maybe 4x per year, and had horrible delay experiences in excess of 6 hours on the last 3 times. I was going to tag along on a couple of his trips, but decided it wasn't worth it.
I'll be flying transatlantic in the next coming months, and I have to say I am really dreading it. But the destination will more than make up for that.
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Old 06-18-2009, 12:42 PM   #19
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And yes - I hate Delta shenanigans about their FF seats availability, including releasing them few days before departure to force you to pay redemption fees and false availability of Lowest tier award and when you try to book you get the message that that fare is unavailable.
Me, too. And now that Delta purchased NWA, it's impossible to redeem any tickets at NWA's published redemption rates, either. I tried to book a ticket a couple of weeks ago with NWA and there was high redemption fees. NWA used to not have this, so it was a nice option for a last-minute flight. Liers!
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Old 06-23-2009, 08:06 AM   #20
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Latest news from United. No FF award seats available to Paris until November. Fees are $84.

I recall just 6-7 years ago that I could call and pretty much book any flight I wanted within reason, within a week or two of flying. And FREE and even change it for FREE.

Has TSA caused this change?
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