Airline loyalty programs are pretty complicated, and, let’s be honest—you’re never sure you’re actually getting “rewarded” for your loyalty to a certain airline. Or if it’s really worth it.
But what if airlines really had to try hard to impress us? And get creative about it? Instead of “After flying X qualifying segments or X miles and spending $X,000 on flights, you will potentially earn one possible free upgrade to somewhere closer to the front of the plane, if the flight is pretty empty on that day,” what if it was something like, “Hey, looks like you’ve flown a ton of miles with us, so we fixed that leak in the roof of your house and got your kids a puppy,” or “Thanks for booking your last 30 flights with us, we’ve arranged for you to have an empty seat next to you for your next ten flights”?
Here’s an altogether unrealistic, but I think pretty persuasive, suggested list of airline loyalty benefits, using a simple formula:
You get upgraded to a whole can of soda all to yourself on every flight for the next year, instead of five ounces poured into a plastic cup full of ice.
The Wi-Fi will work for the entire flight, every flight, for the next year.
You get a free beer every flight for the next year.
You get a comfortable seat sized for an actual human being, like they had in the 1970s (but no one is smoking on the plane like in the ’70s), for the next year.
No one manspreads into your area and you have exclusive armrest rights for a year of flights.
You get to de-plane first no matter where you’re sitting, for one year.
You get a whole row to yourself for every flight, for one year.
No one cries, talks loudly, or uses their smartphone’s external speaker during your flights for the next two years.
No one sneezes, coughs, or farts on your flights for the next two years.
You receive a pizza, a whole pizza, from a pizza place not in the airport. It’s all yours. Also, the seat next to you is empty, so you can put the pizza there while you eat it. Here are some extra napkins.
We answered all your emails for the rest of the month. Please enjoy a movie or a nap.
You get a private bathroom on your next international flight, and—it’s clean. No one has blown it up, or flushed the toilet with the lid open, or even peed on the floor. But you can do all that stuff if you want to.
A car and driver is parked on the tarmac for you, just hop out the rear exit door at the end of the flight here and go home. Your bags are already in the car.
Surprise, we have re-routed your flight so instead of going to that conference for work, you’re going skiing. All your friends are there, and they have new skis for you, and it’s snowing. Also your boss is paying you to be there for four days and you got a raise.
You get to sit in the cockpit for the entire flight.
You are bumped up to first class and all the the other first class seats are occupied by golden retriever puppies.
You are teleported to your destination this time.
None of your flights are delayed, ever, for the rest of your lifetime.
You will receive the ability to play any musical instrument; most people agree that you are also pretty good-looking.
Here’s a private plane and pilot who will take care of all your air travel needs for the next five years.
You can fly all by yourself, without a plane, like Superman.