David J. Danto


Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion




eMail: ddanto@IMCCA.org      Follow Industry News: @NJDavidD


The Bank Of Good Will Is Empty

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog on the current state of “loyalty” between airlines and their passengers.  I was asked to speak to the airline and hospitality industry at their annual gathering for the Freddie Awards (at least those that bothered to show up) and I laid-into them pretty good.  You can read the blog via the link above for yourself, but one of the key conclusions I made was that airline customers are through…done…finished…etc.  There is no more loyalty amongst most of today’s frequent business travelers.  The airlines have no more good will to call upon, and are gambling they’ll never be another issue or disaster where they would need to leverage satisfied customers to gain some support.  My exact words were:

“Nowadays, just about every business in the world is adopting a “put the customer experience first” approach to the future.  The travel and hospitality industry could do the same, with some easy and relatively inexpensive steps.  I doubt that they will – their management is generally too greedy and stubborn.  The second option is to just pull the plug on all of [their false loyalty programs.]  Travelers know that the airlines and hotel chains are lying to them.  It would do less damage to promise nothing and deliver nothing than it does to promise everything and deliver nothing.  I doubt they’ll do that one too.  The third option is most likely the one they’ll choose – to move blindly forward, lying, over-promising and under delivering the most basic of services.  That will seem like the best option to the industry – until whatever the next incident is that causes the stock to drop and credit cards to get cut up.  At that time they’ll once again need to dip into that bank of good will and find it completely empty, having dried up from lack of attention for years and years.  And then, despite my presentation and hundreds of articles like this one from dozens of business travelers who take the time to write, the airline and hospitality industry management will tell the Wall Street investors that no one could have seen it coming.”


Well, guess what?  I was reading industry news last week and came across an article that discussed the financial costs of the ongoing 737 Max debacle.    “Hundreds of millions of dollars” is the phrase the industry is throwing around.  Can you guess what the reaction of the frequent traveler is?  I would suppose – when cleaned-up for public printing – it’s something like: ‘Good.  I hope they all drown in debt and all go bankrupt, the greedy bums.’  This may not be the next economic downturn or national disaster, but it is a situation where the public is appropriately exhibiting righteous indignation over the callous way the US Airline industry certified an aircraft that clearly wasn’t safe, blew-off the problem until not just one, but two planeloads of passengers perished in a crash, then fought against grounding the aircraft until other countries forced their hand.  One can expect that there will be lawsuits, hearings, insurance claims, etc.  I, for one, would be happy to volunteer for one of the juries needed.  I’m pretty sure hundreds of thousands of my fellow frequent flyers (and casual flyers as well) would also be glad to serve.  ‘What decision can we render that will screw the airlines as much as they’ve screwed us’ is clearly what will be in most people’s minds. 

No one knows what the conclusion of this debacle will ultimately look like, or when it will end, but it is one clear example of when the airline industry management could have used a friend amongst their customers, and have only to look in the mirror to understand who is responsible for them having no friends in this group.  You know what they say about karma.  Hundreds of millions of dollars in losses?  Oh, well – It couldn’t happen to a nicer greedier bunch of people.   


This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.

All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.