David J. Danto


Travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion




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


Everybody In The Pool! – April 2024


We can always find Rule Police as we journey through life.  Whether it was dealing with school administrators growing up or the TSA as we travel, someone always wants to tell us where we can be, what we can do, what we have to wear, etc.  One of the strictest groups of rule police was always those who run the travel industry loyalty programs.  Lately however, something seems to be changing.

These folks who actually had strict rules about who gets the miles or points after someone dies (no-one, they’re confiscated) often placed tremendous hurdles in front of us to send miles / points to another member – even a family member.  We’d typically have to pay a hefty transfer fee, and could only transfer them in blocks of large amounts – no topping-up another account that needed just a few more points for an award.

Recently though, more airline and hotel programs are offering group or “pool” programs.  You and your friends and/or family members can all join a group by signing onto a list on their website, and combine your miles or points to get to a reward more rapidly.  Great, right?

Well, yes and no.  Don’t get me wrong, the more airlines, hotels (and to a lesser extent credit cards) treat your points like real currency that you own and you can disburse any way you want, the closer it gets to being useful currency.  (There of course is still nothing in the pooling schemes that maintains the value of the miles/points or prevents the company from jacking-up redemption prices.)  But for the rule zealots like the ones that run loyalty programs at these firms to loosen-up the reigns, something must be up.

In fact, something is up – people’s patience with loyalty programs.  What was once started as mechanisms to encourage return customers and reward them for their loyalty has been watered-down so much over the years that it has become the travel industry’s version of Three Card Monte.  No matter what the sucker / customer / mark does they have no chance whatsoever of winning, at any point in the game.

This latest “pool” version of the hustle is the equivalent of telling starving people that they can get to a meal faster, but while everyone desires the food, only one of them can actually eat.

Sure, there are circumstances where this minimal level of additional convenience might actually help.  If a family travels enough (all of them) to earn miles/points, then combining them might pay for one of their tickets/stays on a subsequent trip.  But most of the time this is pool is more like a betting pool, with one winner and lots of losers.

The airlines and hotel chains are doing it because they need to do something.  The jig is really up with loyalty programs.  We travel experts have been saying get off the drug / get off the ride for a long time...years in fact.  Buy flights and/or rooms when they are the most convenient for you, not because of some misguided loyalty that is no longer returned unless you are throwing wads of cash at the company.  What has changed now is more people are catching on to the con – and avoiding the schemes.  A report by travel technology company Arrivia found that less than half of Americans think points are important to travel, and only 42% used their awards to lower the cost of a trip. Even executives agree that their loyalty programs are lacking, with nearly one-third admitting that they struggle to demonstrate the value of their rewards.”  The only reasons these programs still exist is to sell the pretend currency to banks for a profit, so the banks can attach the points to credit cards.

So before hailing these new loosened rules as a benefit to you and your friends and family, look around to see if any actual value is being added.  Don’t be the only person left playing an always losing game.



Also, p






I have to fly a United 737Max-9 tomorrow.  Wish me luck.  I’ll bring a bolt wrench in case anything needs to be tightened.  (I hope the TSA will let me through the security checkpoint with it – you know how they are with rules…)  


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.

Copyright 2024 David Danto


As always, feel free to write and comment, question or disagree.  Hearing from the traveling community is always a highlight for me.  Thanks!