So...in case you missed it, I'm breaking up with Delta Airlines: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Urv0SFEJJYg&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

For many years, I have been struggling with 'settling down' with an airline that would treat me with the same love I give to it. I would marry Virgin America tomorrow if it would only fly out of Montreal (or even Toronto, because I also love Porter). There really is no other airline that has consistently made me feel like I matter...even when I'm flying cattle class (aka Economy). And to note, this experience with Delta wasn't the first let down. I had a series of snafus from them (lost luggage that didn't show up for 1.5 days, multiple missed connections with odd and stressful re-routes, longest lineups I've ever experienced even when I checked in at home ahead of time, etc.). I understand weather issues, but it's how a company responds that matters. And not just how they respond to their business class flyers...their economy fliers may be like me and courting an airline to see if that is where they want to camp out permanently.

All in all, I calculate that I travel between 60,000 and 80,000 miles per year (sorry planet!). Tripit, which I've been a part of since mid-2006, says that I've traveled 274,469 miles since I've been part of the site. That's about 78,419 or so miles per year. For any airline, I'd think that I'm the kind of customer they'd want to have around. Not to mention that I have a pretty strong following of friends around the globe who look to me for recommendations for travel (restaurants, hotels, flights, etc) because they know that I spend a good amount of time in that area. So besides my own $$ spend (according to my Wells Fargo account breakdown, I spent about $10-15k/month in 2007 on travel expenses - now I usually get it covered), I have a bit of influence over the $$ spend of others who tend to travel.

But here is the thing...I have air miles here and there and everywhere (too many airlines have lost my business) and I really don't relish the thought of starting all over again. Is there a way to leverage my own portfolio and get an airline (hello Continental? Air Canada?) to start me out with an equivalent amount of miles to my abandoned choices? Or at least ramp me up partway there? I don't need to be a platinum member to start, but I don't want to start from nil.

And besides me, I'm sure such a program would be a super enticing switcher for multiple travelers! Imagine this...if you are the airline to come forth with a, "You've been mistreated too often at the other airlines. We want to rectify that AND entice you to at least see if we are true to our word by offering you equivalent status/miles from wherever you feel stuck now," I'd bet you would totally kick ass.

In fact, much like the personal data play that the Project VRM community talks about, why DON'T we have the ability to take our miles with us in general? It seems like another unfortunate silo that locks customers in and disempowers us to switch when we are dissatisfied with the service (which should be how you 'lock' us in - great experience!).

So...

  1. Any airlines that want to be a taker for my nearly 80,000 miles of travel per year? Caveat: must fly out of Montreal.
  2. Anyone want to create a mechanism for customers to leverage this type of data in order to have the freedom to move between airlines when they have been wronged?

I think this could be really powerful.

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