Customer Loyalty

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I travel a lot. It’s mostly to relatively fun places (New York, San Francisco, Seattle, etc), but it’s pretty much all within the US. Living in Denver and traveling to the coasts makes it pretty difficult to rack up frequent flier miles (a round trip to New York is barely 3k miles). So while I feel like I’m constantly on the road (trying to change this habit for this year – more on that in a different post), I’m perennially falling just a little short of reaching 1K status (100,000 flight miles) on United.

So when I checked my account balance after my last scheduled business trip in December and found that I was only a few thousand miles short of 1K this year I felt compelled to remedy the situation. Even if it meant a pointless flight (United won’t allow you to purchase a flight to get miles – you actually have to make the trip). It’s a great example of what happens when you offer your best customers meaningful rewards (in United’s case better upgrades, shorter lines, priority boarding, etc; see a great post on this topic from Jim Keenan here). I spent about $600 and a day of my life flying from Denver to Washington, DC to earn just enough miles to hit 1K (I ended the trip with 100,030 flight miles in 2009). And I did it happily. Just to get the additional rewards offered by 1K.

Now I hope to never make 1K again (that’s a lot of miles and too many nights away) and at least one of my partners thinks I’m completely insane for doing what I did, but I’m extremely happy with the effort and the outcome.

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Let’s hope United can get me where I’m going a little more reliably ontime this year…

  • A few years ago, one of my former colleagues flew from Boston to NY to DC and back on December 31 because he had 97 legs and needed 3 more to get to 100 and qualify for the year. Spend a day of mildly inconvenienced planned reading for a year of fewer hassles. A smart trade-off in my book!

  • Tom Armstrong

    I did this last year flying from DC to Spokane via Salt Lake City to upgrade on Delta. It cost me about $35 (I had a voucher from a previous flight) and an entire Saturday (7am until about 11PM). But, I got upgraded on all 4 legs so I essentially spent the day in first class, reading a book and catching up on emails (not to mentioning drinking some wine). In return I got an entire year of more pleasant flight experiences. For someone who travels regularly, having the convenience of upgrades, priority re-bookings, etc is easily worth a few hundred dollars and a day in the air.

  • 1K-Traveller

    if you're that close, a simple request to the “Premier Exec” United Mileage Plus folks will land you 1K without having to fly the legs.

    • sethlevine

      i’ve heard that, but didn’t want to take the chance (i called in dec and they said i’d have to ask in jan – if i missed it by one trip it would have sucked!)

  • Smisek Sucks

    They rip people off , no regrets, you had fun :)!!!  Now you need about 3 million miles to “MAINTAIN” the status not just fly 100K+ every year    SMisek sucks he’s a loser with no concept of the airline industry.   Loser you may ask?  Yes most rich people have no IQ