It must be that time of the year for someone at Air Canada to come up with another innovative way to squeeze more spare change from their customers (and you wonder why our $1 coin was called a loonie…). We now have the privilege to pay for a “preferred” seat in the bulkhead, emergency exit rows or anywhere that they deem to be a step above cattle class in the economy cabin. This is as welcome a change as charging $75 for the “privilege” of same day standby changes on North American flights. Imaginative threads have started up on the online frequent flyer bulletin boards to come up with the most likely next “brainstorm” – lavatories that open only when you deposit a loonie? Paying to get a seat cushion on your seat?
I am not buying in to the argument that just because other North American carriers are doing it, so should ours – “me too” tactics never translate into sustainable business success.
While on the topic of “me too” thinking, why does no airline loyalty program use overall revenue earned per year as a means of defining threshold tiers for members? Most airline loyalty programs base their threshold decisions on the total number of “status miles” flown in a year or on the total number of flight legs flown. These are poor metrics for the carrier (or carrier alliance) to focus on to try to make more money.
While there is a definite correlation between flight legs or status miles and revenue, it is not as direct a correlation as measuring the actual spend on a per flyer basis. Why not use the hotel model of granting points for every pre-tax dollar spent on airfares? This would reduce the volume of people “gaming” the system by taking discount fare based long-distance “mileage runs” or by purposely doing multi-hop trips to increase their total number of legs traveled.
As Air Canada used to remind us – we know you have a choice when traveling. Surely they can take steps to ensure that choice is made because of legitimate merit and service/product differentiation and not just through inertia?