So by now, I’ve talked about the problems inherent in certain retail loyalty programs. Programs like Starbucks Rewards and Amazon Prime seem like a good deal, but can often force you in making decisions based on the idea that you’ve “already paid for it”, rather than any good financial decisions.
But, as you know, one of my hobbies is traveling. I’m very fortunate to have had the ability to do this, both because of intentionality on my part and a lot of fortuitous situations, such as having worked jobs that see fit to fly me places.
And due to my relatively frequent traveler ways, I’ve developed a certain affinity for certain perks.
This is dangerous. I’ve helped to get people upgraded to first class before, and always warn them that all of their other flying experiences are going to suck a little worse from now on. It’s hard to taste comfort (if not real luxury) and then go back.
When you fly enough with a particular airline, you get what is know as “Elite Status” with them. This can net you perks, such as expedited check-in and boarding, as well as financial benefits too, such as checked bags.
On Alaska Airlines, where I have “MVP Gold” status, I can cancel or change any ticket without penalty at any time, even “nonrefundable” tickets, even on the day of travel. The ability to make “speculative” bookings is worth a lot to me, as I suspect it would be to you.
But the loyalty comes at a cost. The desire to qualify (and requalify) for these benefits can alter the decision making process, and can cause one to spend more money. Which is of course, exactly what the airlines want.
I’m not immune to this. As I found out when I went to book a flight to Chicago.