Skift Take

Between credit card pitches and requests for tips, the process of monetizing the airline cabin is starting to wear on frequent flyers.

Series: Business of Loyalty

Travel Loyalty News

The Skift Business of Loyalty covers the world of hotel, airline, and other consumer loyalty programs in the travel industry. Read more coverage of loyalty here.

Any traveler who has flown on American or United in the last year has probably noticed an uptick in disruptive pitches for airline co-branded credit cards. Last summer, despite tepid feedback from American passengers, United committed to start pitching its new Explorer card to its own cohort of entrapped customers.

Now the pandering has moved to other parts of the cabin. Frontier flight attendants have been soliciting tips from passengers on in-flight purchases for quite some time, but earlier this year, it expanded the program to better reward individual sellers.

Crews are also taking the process into their own hands and changing the trajectory of the pitch. Several reports on social media share that captains and first officers on American are now making announcements on behalf of flight attendants while last week, a blogger on Boarding Area documented a credit card pitch that was flat-out wrong.

It’s tough to measure the negative effect on loyalty when one can look at the hard numbers of tips and credit card referrals and point to success. But eventually, the nonstop pandering is going to erode the loyalty of even the most patient customers — and as points out, passengers are already taking note.

— Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor

Skift Stories and More Expert Insight

Hotel Direct Booking Efforts Create Lasting Loyalty: New Report: In 2017, a report from Kalibri Labs suggested that the massive direct booking pushes launched a year earlier by the major hotel companies — Hilton, Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Hyatt among them — actually worked.

Why Qantas’ Surprise Stake in Alliance Worries Virgin: The Qantas Group on Friday confirmed that it had taken a 19.9 percent stake in Brisbane-based charter operator Alliance Airlines.

What’s Behind American’s Falling Customer Satisfaction Scores? Delta Air Lines likes to brag about its customer satisfaction scores, reporting earlier this month its domestic score tripled over the past decade, reaching an all-time high in September. What about American Airlines?

Norwegian Air Raises $353 Million to Keep Flying: Things don’t seem to be getting any better for Norwegian. The money raised will keep it going for now, but any potential buyers will be keeping an eye on how its plan for profitable growth turns out.

United Makes Live TV and Movies Free on Some Flights: United is dropping the fee to watch DirecTV live television and films on jets equipped with the service.

United Puts New Focus on Hubs in 2019: One-third of the way into its three-year plan, United has declared the project a success and is plotting the next phase. Now comes the hard part.

Airbus Production of Superjumbo Jet May Depend on Emirates Deal: Airbus SE is contemplating a deal with Gulf carrier Emirates that would see an order for A380 jets swapped to a smaller model, leading it to stop building the superjumbo, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Chill Out With Cathay Pacific’s Yoga/Meditation Space at Hong Kong Airport: Cathay Pacific, already loved for its amenity-rich lounges at Hong Kong International Airport and elsewhere, is offering passengers a tool for mind and body: a space for yoga and meditation in its business class lounge at The Pier.

Oneworld Opting for Alliance Lounges Rather Than Airline Lounges: At airports all over the world, airlines from the same alliance operate lounges that could be considered competing, or at the very least, confusing. Many travelers either don’t know that their ticket or status grants access to partner airline lounges, or never know “which one” is best. Oneworld has plans to change that, at least at a few key airports.

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Skift Business of Loyalty Editor Grant Martin [[email protected]] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.


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Tags: american, loyalty, united airlines

Photo credit: United's PS service based out of Newark. United / United Airlines

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