The Novice Perspective: Airline loyalty pays off

Shipra is my fiancée and the first of contributors at the blog. She has worked with one of the largest airline conglomerates in the world, and is now based in Mumbai. Shipra has lived, worked and travelled across 4 continents. We travel often enough, together and separately. These are her perspectives, as she gets used to the world of business and leisure travel and our hobby!


Like many, for a long time the primary thing that would drive my decision when buying an air ticket would be the ticket price.  I couldn’t care much about food, seat and service for a 2.5 hour flight between Mumbai – Delhi as long as I reached my destination on time. In India, the battle of air fare sales is intense and with a pool of no-frill carriers, ticket prices are competitive.

I used to vouch for Indigo until last year and then they charged me for 1 kg extra baggage for a box of sweets last Diwali.  Not to miss, I was only travelling with a hand purse. I have never flown Indigo after that and it’s not because they charged me but because the lady at the counter was cold as a stone and only repeated mugged up lines.

So, eight months back when Jet Airways was running a flash sale, I managed to get a pretty good deal for my travel to Lucknow, Singapore as well as Saigon. I have to admit while it’s not essential to have food served yet it was a welcome change to be taken care of. Looking back, in all my previous low lost flights I have bought or pre-ordered meal on the plane. How many of us don’t eat anything on a flight??? At times, I have also paid a couple of hundreds for a better seat. 

In hindsight it was a great decision, because with JetPrivilege, in just 8 months I am Silver and just 1 flight away from becoming a Gold. Actually, I was going to be taking longer to be Gold, but with Jet revamping their frequent flier program, my last two flights  counted double than what I calculated. Now, a Silver may not mean much but the status earned me an upgrade recently.

As a Gold I am looking forward to:

  • Lounge Access: I already have a Priority Pass and an AMEX card, so this is not a deal breaker for me.
  • Priority baggage tagging: Very important, I have waited for as long as 40 minutes at the baggage belt hoping for some miracle to happen and my bag to arrive. 
  • 15 Kgs of Excess baggage: This really is the deal breaker. I don’t want to be bothered about packing and repacking and weighing my bags and being asked to reshuffle and pay. Whether I am travelling heavy or light I don’t want to think about not buying that extra box of sweets because I’ll have to pay for it.
  • 3 upgrade vouchers: Of course apart from the fact that I get priority on operational upgrades, I would love to travel comfortably, being taken care of in business at the cost of economy an economy ticket. And now, I will have 4 upgrade vouchers in all (one from silver as well).

Also when I did compare the fares closely, I was paying low fares on low-cost flights with odd schedules. Busy slots still sell at a premium all across. 

So, bye bye low cost carriers. I am happy to pay a little extra and get much more in return for the long term.

Lesson #6: Airline loyalty is the oldest trick in the book to retain customers and it still works

Which airline loyalty benefits do you enjoy?

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Comments

  1. True! A very apt observation about LCCs selling convenient timing inventory at a significant premium. There have been times when IndiGo has put even Air India to shame when it comes to pricing a late evening BLR-CCU flight. However, my experiences with Jet haven’t been great; way too many delays, delays in baggage being rolled out and as AJ pointed out – absolutely no consistency in meals.

  2. Hear,hear!

    Couldn’t agree more ,for a domastic and/or unfrequent flyer chasing points and elite tier over low fare and preferable schedule is moot.
    But for a frequent flyer and flying on international sector,going an extra mile is realy worth your while.
    Really depends on what sort of flyer you are.

  3. Absolutely true, but only if you are doing some international travel. If you’re doing domestic travel, getting to gold is really hard. For instance bom-del is 709 miles (economy, without the current 2x promo) and getting to Gold is 60000 miles on jet. Can you imagine how much you’ll have to travel to get gold? It’s not even funny.

    It’s a different story altogether if you have a co-branded credit card, or you travel business class, etc. but then the comparison to LCCs doesn’t arise.

    Another thing is that it’s pretty much a two horse race, jet and star alliance. I have Silver on BA (equivalent to gold on other airlines) and it’s useless unless I am traveling international. So with just two frequent flyer options to choose from, things can turn rather quickly in the other direction as well. If they both decide to reverse the trend and change the rules in their own favor, we customers are left holding the bag. This has happened numerous times in the US. I think it’ll happen here too once fuel prices rise.

    Overall my experience has been that unless you know you can get to gold and maintain it, there’s hardly any point in chasing miles. Better optimize for the present (by buying a cheap ticket or convenient timings) than chase fools gold.

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