Jan 26 2010

Customer Loyalty


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.


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