It’s the most wonderful time of the year (hopefully)….

I don’t know about you guys and girls, but there’s something about March that excites me. No, not the spring. And no, not the traditional March Madness either. I’m talking about the other March Madness — the real March Madness — that we like to refer to as double elite qualifying miles promotions. 😉

Well, it’s looking kind of grim. American hasn’t grounded their whole fleet of MD-80s yet. United is still in business. So will we see a promotion this time around?

Last year at this time I was very optimistic we’d see something. And the same goes for the year before, so I’d like to think I’ve been pretty spot on when it comes to predicting this stuff (don’t want to give myself too much credit here, I had a 50/50 shot). But I’m just not feeling as confident this year, despite the economy still being pretty lousy.

Why am I not optimistic? Well, I think the airlines realize they have very little to gain from double EQMs. You certainly have a competitive advantage if you’re the only airline that offers such a promotion, but if everyone offers it, no one wins. And I don’t think the airlines are counting on passengers to travel more as a result of such a promotion, but rather hoping that passengers shift their business. And let’s be honest, those that do fly more as a result of these promotions aren’t exactly the customers the airlines want.

But what really makes me a bit uneasy is the load factors over the coming month or two. I’ve been booking the same type of mileage runs domestically for about five years now, and I can honestly say I see the least availability I’ve ever seen over this time period. I’m seeing virtually none of the lower fare buckets on United, like L, S, T, or even W, on virtually all routes!

So I’m not saying it ain’t happening. I’m just not quite as confident as I’ve been in years past. Actually, I’m betting we’ll see one round of double EQMs this year; I’m just not convinced it’s going to be a second quarter promotion. And if it is, I’d bet with near certainty we won’t see it at the end of the year.

All that being said, all it takes is one airline to launch such a promotion (hi there, American) and the rest will follow suit.

What say you?

Comments

  1. I have mixed emotions. One one hand I love DEQM so I don’t have to do so many personal mileage runs. On the other, hopefully this will pair back the 1K ranks which will help me with the upgrades. Nothing worse than my flights from IAD-LAX or SFO and find out I’m one of 25 1Ks and 15 of us in coach…..

  2. Hate to burst your bubble, Paul, but ex-IAD transcons will always be GS/1K-heavy.

    Also, don’t forget about all the elites who are completely clueless about their respective programs and won’t bother to sign up for promos like DEQM. I met quite a few 1Ks last year who were stunned when I told them about DEQM. The good thing (for those of us who care) is that many of them would have remained 1K anyway with or without DEQM, and for GS it’s clearly a moot point altogether. For that reason, I wouldn’t be surprised if one’s upgrade chances on ex-IAD transcons are bleak in any case.

    Unfortunately, many of the FFP-naive are also same folks who often don’t request upgrades but will get them by default under UDU. If only UA would make upgrade requests an opt-in process rather than opt-out, it would favor those of us who know the game.

  3. I do hope a DEQM promotion from AA, so that I can make up a plan to reach EXP for the first time in my life.

  4. I just finished EXP for the year.

    But not for the status — for the adventure of travel.

    As I sit here in the AC at LAX, I realize the AA might have a few crappy MD80s, and yeah, from time to time I have to endure them — but they are the only airline the hasn’t gone bankrupt (I think)… and they have free printers in their clubs. And they serve champagne domestically. And you can compare those crappy MD80s to the crappy A319s that United and the others are flying. I actually had an incredibly enjoyable experience earlier this week taking a transcon on one of their new 737-8’s and watching Up In The Air.

    Oh… And yeah….Concierge Key does exist and my experience with it has been more favorable than my dad’s GS program with United.

    K Mc
    Trust Fund Manager

  5. Lucky, United may be doing a better job of managing its inventory and having higher yields on fares. March and April are typically Spring Break months so higher fares result in more money for the company. It makes sense for United to offer a Double EQM promo with more expensive airfares.

  6. If the economy recovers a bit this year, then a DEQM for cash in the 4th quarter of the year. My reasoning is that if the airlines sense a surge, they’ll want to set up former elites from previous years for 2011, but only if they are willing to part with some cash along with flying to $200 tcons.

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