06 July 2005

Has The Airlines Forsaken Us?

I just wrote to the editorial of Business Traveller Asia magazine lamenting my plight as a "Zero Mileage Frequent Flier".

I have been working in Hong Kong for the past 5 years and have been shuttling up and down between Hong Kong and Singapore, where I call home.
In recent years, we see budget airlines coming in with cheaper airfares in their attempt to grab a slice of the HKG-SIN pie. While I still favour a full service airline, it is indeed delightful news to see the big boys (e.g. Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, etc) reducing their prices as well, in response to the competition. This new found affordability only means that I get to fly home more often to see my family and friends.
The only thing about these fares is that mileage are not acruable which means that while I am flying more often than before, I will be getting zero mileage as far as frequent flier miles are concerned. While some may argue that we should not expect frequent flier miles at the level of fare, I wonder if the airlines are doing anything to retain our loyalty? Granted that we pay much less now, but we are after all, still paying customers, right?
As a business owner, it is inevitable that I account for every dollar spent. As such, my air fares tend to be those that gives me the best value for money i.e. at the cheaper end with no mileage accrual. I can't justify paying more than double for the same flight just so that I can get the mileage. (See screen capture. Click to enlarge.) Of course, it would be a different story altogether if I were a salaried executive and HR picks up the tab.
Face it, at the rate things are, air fare for this particular route will never revert to what it was before. Does that mean that mileage from this route hereon shall forever be zero?
Cathay Pacific has always been my favourite airline, even ahead (albeit slightly) of my own national carrier (Singapore Airlines) as their service were filled with caring sincerity. Even the ground staff (Marco Polo club and airport agents) are all very nice people. Oh, and did I mention that I am merely a basic member (Green) of the Marco Polo Club? I am treated very well despite not even in the barest minimum of the Elite Silver status.
So I pose this question to my favourite airline. Are we (promotional fare passengers) no longer regarded as valued customers anymore? If no, then what is Cathay Pacific doing (or intend to do) to keep these passengers' loyalty? Right now, I don't really see any incentive to stay with one particular airline anymore.
I hope to be proven wrong. Really.

- Voxeros

1. Jaschocolate left...
Wednesday, 6 July 2005 7:49 am
Hmm.. never travel by CP before.. haha.. Budget Airline rocks for poor little gals like me.. I want to go Hong Kong... Ahhh
2. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 6 July 2005 9:49 am :: 
Jaschocolate: I did a bit of web shopping online and you may be surprised to learn that budget airlines may not necessary be cheaper than full service airlines.

All prices are taken from the website on 06 Jul 2005 and exclude airport taxes.

Return Flight SIN-HKG-SIN (15 Jul Outbound) (28 Jul Inbound)

Cathay Pacific : SGD 288.00
Singapore Airlines (2-To-Go) : SGD 248.00
ValuAir (Saver (W)): SGD 276.00
JetStar Asia JetSaver: SGD 88.00
JetStar Asia JetFlex: SGD 329.00
3. Jaschocolate left...
Wednesday, 6 July 2005 12:26 pm
This just tells us all that if you got no money.. don't travel.. Thank you very much si.. hee
4. Pam left...
Wednesday, 6 July 2005 10:19 pm
of course loyalty doesn't count... not just airmiles m'dear, banks etc oso. over here, banks (amongst others, like insurance co, etc etc) offer big deals (e.g. 0% interest rate credit cards for 6-9 months) to new customers. lower mortgage rates, cheaper insurance etc all for new customers. so what people have to do is continuously 'shop around'. which is a pain obviously. so what people end up doing really, is continue paying and sticking with the same bank/insurance co etc (ie, loyal) but get no 'rewards'.

re airlines, i've been flying with star alliance (mostly SQ) for the past 5-7 years and only 'elite gold'(min) gets you anywhere man...
5. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 7 July 2005 8:32 am :: 
Jaschocolate: You are such a Ms Cup-Is-Half-Empty. Traveling these days doesn't cost as much as you think. Just proper planning and a good sense of budgeting, you should be able to travel well. Airfares is coming down due to intense competition and the budget focus has since switched over to hotel for forming the biggest piece of the expenses.

Traveling is affordable. It is only whether you are willing to make the effort to save up or not. Start small by taking trips to nearby countries.

Pam: Indeed Gold is the minimum level where you will get any attention at all for most airlines. Silver is merely your mid-step towards Gold as Silver on it own merit is pretty useless. This is exactly why I love Cathay so much, I am just a Green card member (read: not even Silver) and they still treat me fairly well.
6. barffie left...
Thursday, 7 July 2005 11:50 am
Hmm. I was quite pleasantly surprised that the rates to Melbourne via SIA is comparable to Cathay Pacific and all. The surcharges are shit nowadays. So budget airlines or not, sama sama lah. Like flying to Bangkok, Thai Airways also got very good rates, got makan some more. The really low prices in budget airlines are for one-way, and only during promotional periods. So, sama sama again lor. I don't mind paying a wee bit more for service, really.
7. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 7 July 2005 12:17 pm ::
barffie: I have tried taking SilkAir and even traveled all the way to Macau to take the flight just to save a few dollars.

But if you add up the cost of time and bus/ferry fare, on top of their respective air tix, the prices are quite comparable for both budget and full service airlines.

Given there isn't a significant savings from budget airlines, I am sticking to full service ones.
8. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 7 July 2005 12:53 pm ::
barffie: Here's a tip for you if you are plying the SIN-MEL route.
Both Qantas and British Airways are part of the OneWorld alliance and as such, has codeshare agreement both each other's flights.

If I am not wrong, you have 1 BA plane and 1 QF plane flying together on the same route everyday. Their departure times are often just a few minutes apart.

Always take the British Airway flight as the equipment (plane) is newer and service is better. However, being BA doesn't mean that you have to book a BA ticket. You can actually get a QF ticket to get on the BA flight because of their codeshare agreement.

Make enquiries on both airlines at the same time and pick the cheaper one to get onto the BA plane.
9. Pam left...
Thursday, 7 July 2005 4:51 pm
However, if any of you do come to europe and want to travel to other parts of europe... the cheap airlines are REALLY REALLY quite worth it. especially when they have deals.

having said that easyjet is quite the 'indian bus' sometimes. lol.
10. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 7 July 2005 5:50 pm ::
Pam: Yes. I've heard of that too especially when you look up the local classified ads, there are a lot of great bargains in there.

So for the more adventurous, fly up first then start planning the rest of the journey. Quite unnerving for us kiasu Singaporeans who need everything to be planned swee swee before even stepping out of the door.
11. Pam left...
Friday, 8 July 2005 1:05 am
Example, 150SGD return to go to Prague from UK?? good right??? maybe i should be travel agent for singaporeans from the UK... hmmm......
12. JayWalk left...
Friday, 8 July 2005 9:07 am :: 
Pam: Trust me. You won't want to go there for the typical Singaporean customer, despite the super damn cheap ticket prices, will still be haggling you for free gifts!
13. Pam left...
Friday, 8 July 2005 4:23 pm
you are right... i forget too easily...!! plus other requests like "got chinese food or not?", "why the makan so little?", "wah, so far more to travel ah..."
14. JayWalk left...
Saturday, 9 July 2005 10:20 am ::
Pam: Indeed!
Anyway, glad to hear from you. Didn't you get my sms?
15. Pam left...
Saturday, 9 July 2005 11:01 pm
yup, i did get your message - did you not get my reply.... at 5am in the morning?! :)
16. JayWalk left...
Sunday, 10 July 2005 8:45 am :: 
Pam: Bor leh... maybe the sms didn't even make it out of UK due to the network congestion. Oh well, glad to know that all is well with you.

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