Will United match American’s double EQM promotion?

Most of us were happy to see American announce a double elite qualifying mileage promotion just yesterday. I was kind of expecting it given the economy, but airlines can be so unpredictable. The prospect of earning top tier status for a mere 50,000 flown miles, given the unlimited domestic upgrades, eight longhaul international upgrades, and international first class lounge access is something that’s hard to pass up.

Nonetheless the question remains — will American’s biggest rival, United, match this offer? Put me firmly in the “yes” camp. I’m all for looking at history to predict the future, and I think last year was a great example. American offered this promotion because of their MD-80 fiasco, whereby tons of people were inconvenienced greatly. United still matched the promotion, despite the fact that they didn’t have a similar fiasco. They didn’t want to lose customers to American, and at the end of the day offering extra elite qualifying miles doesn’t cost them a whole lot, and if anything creates more loyalty.

This year, on the other hand, both airlines face the same challenge — a weak economy, and more specifically a huge reduction in yields and loads due to less business travel. Based on the fact that American made this offer again, we can only assume it was profitable (in relative terms) for them last year. I can’t imagine it’s much different for United.

If United chooses not to match American, it’s probably because they feel that an increase in elites would substantially decrease the revenue they generate from buy-ups and co-pays with their new upgrade system. Only time will tell, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see United match before the end of the week.

Comments

  1. My money is on yes as well, 2010’s elite members numbers are sure to go down, it won’t hurt them very much at all to have a few extra eqms floating out there.

    I on that note, i wonder if airline keep a liability about for eqms?

  2. I’m pretty sure they don’t, Sam. It seems to me like it would be hard to place a value to them, since 24,999 EQM’s are worth nothing, not to mention the counter resets every year.

  3. Lucky,

    Do you think if United matches, tickets already booked, even though within the promotion dates, I won’t get any bonus EQM?(That is if United matches)

    thanks

  4. If I had to guess I would say they’d match American’s terms and only count travel booked after the start of the promotion, Adam.

  5. Yes, Lucky, you called this one. But I seem to remember your first response to DEQM08 was not positive…. (though you did come around soon.) How do you *really* feel about this one?

    I’m tempted to be a little miffed. I just finished (DEN)-SFO-HNL-LAX-SYD-LAX-HNL-SFO-(DEN) on March 18. One day before DEQM started. Yes, I know that it’s not retroactive, but somehow I’m skeptical that UA will actually enforce this. It is .bomb we’re talking about here!

  6. hobo13 — I might be wrong, but I believe my reaction last year was somewhere along the lines of “Yay, that means more SWU’s for me.” Every time there’s a double EQM promotion we see tons of people saying “Oh no, elite status is being greatly devalued.” Well, in my four or five years as a 1K I haven’t seen any changes, so I’m not complaining. It always seems convenient to me that those saying they don’t want to see the promotion are those that already have 1K in the bag. I tend to take the approach of “the more the merrier,” as I’ve convinced dozens of friends to go for 1K over the years, largely due to the DEQM promotion.

    What do I think about the promotion in general? Well, I think it’s a stupid promotion. In an ideal world no airline would offer this. It does devalue status to a certain extent, and when you think about the fact that a mere 50,000 flown miles can you top tier status on an airline, I just don’t see how the airlines can profit off of this. It’s one thing if Continental or Delta make this offer, where the benefits are limited, but when American and United offer this promotion, I can’t help but think otherwise given their liberal international upgrade policy. They must be losing out on a substantial amount of potential revenue from buy-ups and co-pays. At the same time I don’t fault United for matching American. Nonetheless this year is special given the economy, so I understand why both carriers offered the promotion this year.

    And yes, your situation is one reason that this promotion kind of sucks. No matter what United does, people will be pissed, and understandably so. I totally understand your frustration given that you chose to plan ahead and book your travel on United, but at the same time I see United’s viewpoint in wanting to generate extra revenue. In the past United charged as much as $500 for this promotion, so I tend to approach this with a “I’ll take what I can get” attitude. I bet they’re hoping people will rebook and pay a change fee, which will make them feel better about offering this promotion.

    Anyway, can’t you cancel your ticket (if it’s within the 24 hour window) and rebook, or is that not an option anymore? If not, is the same fare still available? I would consider paying the change fee given the huge amount of extra EQM’s you’d earn.

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