We live in an increasingly competitive world, but more importantly, we live in a world where quality information doesn’t demand a premium. Anyone with a browser can know the most competitive details about pricing.
Imagine the surprise when the United rep asked for a credit card before she could apply upgrade coupons to a flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles in March.
Unique in the world
It was easy to think I’d heard something wrong but follow up questions confirmed that the usual complimentary upgrade that frequent flyers earn has a price tag of between $300 and $450 (depending on class of ticket) that isn’t a done deal unless the upgrade goes through…in London…standing at the departure gate. For those of us who fly for our jobs, that isn’t something that can be expensed. It is hard-earned personal money.
Some call it the world’s worst travel tax.
Other choices, please
London isn’t the only choice as a gateway to Europe. Paris and Frankfurt have had that role for years and more recently, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Competition for international flyers is fierce and those other three hubs would love to take Heathrow’s business. Business travelers are a staple of these major airports and the cities that surround them. Risking that business seems foolish.
In today’s fast information flows, practices that aren’t competitive will impact business. Frankfurt, Paris, Schipohl will quickly realize their advantage and begin to market London’s uncompetitive decision. Travel blogs and forums will pick up the conversation and the word will spread, “Heathrow will penalize you for airline upgrades.”
When you travel for work, you’re passionate about the perks and avoid personal charges wherever possible. And the information that guides decisions is getting easier to find.
If the conversation runs its full course, Heathrow will realize the mistake and exempt free upgrades from penalties. Now let’s see how it goes.