Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I’m convinced that US airlines simply don’t want passengers to pay for international first and business class. Not only do they offer lackluster service, both in the air and on the ground, but US airlines are also among the most expensive airlines in most international markets. Their prices are unrealistic and their offerings are poor. That being said, they seem to be happy filling international premium cabins mostly with passengers that upgrade.
But I do have one serious question: why don’t US airlines offer higher mileage accrual for premium passengers? Most US airlines offer their premium passengers no more than 150% of actual flown miles, both elite and redeemable, for flying in premium cabins. At the same time, airlines like British Midland offer 300% of the base miles for paid first class passengers.
I simply don’t get it. Give passengers a small incentive to actually pay for first class. Think about it – first class from San Francisco to Sydney is about $25,000 on United, and you’d only earn 50% more miles than someone on a $500 ticket. Even if someone only flies once a year with United, they’re much more profitable (and valuable) than a passenger that actually logs 100,000 “butt in seat” miles on “normal” fares. I simply don’t understand why the US airlines are so stingy in that regard, while being so generous in other areas (like upgrades, earning miles on low fare classes, awards, etc.).
And yes, this is all coming from someone that typically flies on low fares and upgrades….