Goodbye America West, Hello United

Whenever possible, I use our clients for services we need.   Even if they don’t know we are using them.   I just feel that it’s the right thing to do.   America West Airlines was a client for a while.   So of course I used their airline for my travel, as well as the company travel.   We have about 5 people that regularly attend trade shows and conferences, plus I make at least 6 – 7 other trips per year.   This actually generates into quite a bit of business for an airline.   I would estimate that USWeb accounts for roughly 40 round trips per year.

America West was never an ideal client.   They were one of those clients whom never implement any of the code we sent over, then call us about every three months with new level of enthusiasm.   Our last contact decided that they were going to take their search marketing efforts in house, and since they don’t listen to us, it was hard to argue.   There was only one thing that kept me wanting them as a client; I had grown used to flying first class, and our previous contact (who very much liked us) provided a Platinum card for their frequent flyer club.   This means that I was given first class seats, at a coach rate for almost every flight I was on.

So I decided to try to reason with our new contact.   What if we just made ourselves available on a once per month basis to answer questions for their internal team?   I even offered up one hour per month with one of our search engineers at no cost.   He declined.   So, I took the more direct route.   I let them know that we spent approximately $12,000 per year with America West.   If they were no longer a client, and we didn’t have the ability to get upgrades for or people, we couldn’t legitimize not using a service like Expedia, which is also a client, that would give us the lowest fair options between airlines.   The contact said he didn’t care.   This sums up our experiences with this airline pretty well.   Only an airline would so quickly dismiss the opportunity to maintain a $12,000 yearly client.

With the recent move, I have been traveling a bit and experiencing different airlines.   I of course use my travel portal clients to book my travel, and I have usually been stuck in coach.   A recent run in with an incredibly rude American Airlines staff tested my resolve to save money, and I started looking for alternatives.   Luckily my next query on Expedia spit out United as the cheapest result.   I was pretty happy with United, even though I got stuck in coach.   The people were friendly and professional, and the gates are not in the cheap seats like America West.

So when I got home, I applied for a United Mileage card.   Their upgrade plan is the most complicated thing I have ever seen, so I don’t know when I will be able to easily upgrade.   I’ll have to call and check on that.   But at least I have a new airline.   And as Guy Kawasaki recently pointed out on his blog; if you want to be treated important, be important.   Use the airline frequently, and you will be treated well.   I noticed I was treated well on America West with my platinum card, and I notice I usually get treated well with my Intercontential card for hotels.

So the next time I travel, I’ll be flying United.   Now if they could just come up with a good corporate airline program like a ranted about on my USWeb blog.


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