Article: The Scourge of Invisible Fine Print in Loyalty Programs

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The Scourge of Invisible Fine Print in Loyalty Programs is an article written by the AFF editorial team:


You can leave a comment or discuss this topic below.
 
I love the photo of the Hertz office with nobody at home! 😂

A nice metaphor for no one around who gives a…..

I was recently surprised to see to see a lot of QF CRs on partner airlines in whY now come with zero baggage allowance. At the time of booking, it shows “?” against baggage. Either, they don’t know themselves or it‘s like the Riddler and you need to solve it yourself - probably at check in as you fork out $$$s. Lots of $$$s.
 
Nice article Matt.

In your article you refer to ”…Qantas, that do not display the fare class when you book on their websites. There is no way to be sure what fare class you’re booking – only various workarounds to try to guess it.” And then “In most of the cases mentioned in this article, I genuinely don’t believe that the loyalty program was deliberately trying to be deceitful.”

For a small number of Loyalty programs I tend to agree with you, but much like the undertone of your article, it’s more about how much the Loyalty program is willing and able to get away with. Using your example above, I don’t believe for one second that Qantas was not trying to be deceitful. We’ve all witnessed and experienced their corrupt and deceptive culture manifest at the Consumer level over the past few years (eg. Bundle of No rights, ghost flights etc). I’m very confident that Qantas have deliberately chosen to hide the fare class to make it even more difficult to understand what you will or won’t earn with them, let alone a partner airline. This is a financially motivated decision to save on intangible costs (SCs, points). I guess that’s why they call it “Simpler and Fairer”.
 
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The Scourge of Invisible Fine Print in Loyalty Programs is an article written by the AFF editorial team:


You can leave a comment or discuss this topic below.
Too right. It is about time that Australian Consumer Law caught up with the surplus of dodgy, inaccurate and contradictory information, as they stick to the 'rules' when it comes to Consumer Law and their 'Conditions of Sale" and Carriage.
 
Totally agree with the comments above. I feel Matt's article is too generous. Airlines and their loyalty programs have been swathed in rules for decades. They know the game they're playing, even if aspects of it are made worse by indifference and neglect when it comes to public-facing information. There is no forgivability owed when a program fails to update info, fails to inform members of the correct terms, fails to show booking classes, etc. And legally most of that wouldn't hold up if members actually sought to challenge so many aspects of undisclosed terms or unfulfilled benefits, but that requires time and money in most cases.

Neither a reward or revenue booking should lack correct info about fare class or baggage allowance, before entering into the contract or in the ticketed info, for instance. And while you could argue that the interface between different providers may exacerbate the problem (especially regarding baggage allowances), it's not like the airline industry has immature IT systems or has only just started working out how to share data correctly...
 
With all respect and understanding...'I feel', too many of the Frequent Flyer Websites, AFF included, can be a little kindly and unforgiving of many of these repeat offending airlines...with their complex range of lounge access rules and points to fly rules...etc..the customer needs to be a workless, dogged, investigative, flying sleuth, to get even close to being on top of it all. I think simplicity has been purposely lost to sew confusion and financially exploit, rather than embrace the average FF.
I assume it's difficult for AFF and many other FF sites to really expose and stick it up 'em, when they are so close to the coughpit....the recent Qantas FF programme 'enhancements' is a great example of screwing the FF customer for double the number of points, under the incredible headline of 'giving FF what they have been asking for'.....as for searching for classic up the front with your partner, it's an odious exercise in frustrating futility.
 
My own personal experience is flying SQ as a VA Plat - I want the points and status to go to my VA account but still want to make use of the free wifi for Krisflyer members in Economy.

SQ has a section when checking in online to add your Krisflyer number for the booking but also a separate one for points accrual which I can enter my VA number.

The issue with this is both times I've tried recently this removed my VA status so I wasn't immediately provided lounge, express path and priority luggage/boarding until I got MY VA status returned by the check-in agent.

Unfortunately their change removed my Krisflyer number from the booking so I wasn't able to use the inflight wifi.

I can't find any way to use benefits for both.
 
it's not like the airline industry has immature IT systems or has only just started working out how to share data correctly
Perhaps not immature, but I'd say the lack of baggage allowance is usually the result of IT limitations. Of course, this is still the airlines fault for not improving their IT, but I doubt it's intentional to hide baggage allowance from complex or partner itineraries.

The lack of booking class is definitely an anti-consumer commercial decision though
 
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All the complexities around the lounge access, baggage allowance, etc, just begs the question why should it be like that? You'd think that as an industry it'd make also their life easier if the approaches were harmonised.

'KISS' is a great principle and would most likely be a lot cheaper to operate. By creating complexity, companies are spending a dollar to possibly save a penny. :rolleyes:
 
All the complexities around the lounge access, baggage allowance, etc, just begs the question why should it be like that? You'd think that as an industry it'd make also their life easier if the approaches were harmonised.
Part of that is that they are profit-driven entities "cooperating" for commercial reasons. A visit to an SQ lounge as a UA or VA or... ticket holder presumably triggers inter-airline fee transfers. No idea about baggage calculations on award tickets. But yeah, so the various entitlements are presumably wrapped in accounting and hence the lack of alignment/harmonisation/cooperation/consistency/etc.
 
All the complexities around the lounge access, baggage allowance, etc, just begs the question why should it be like that? You'd think that as an industry it'd make also their life easier if the approaches were harmonised.

'KISS' is a great principle and would most likely be a lot cheaper to operate. By creating complexity, companies are spending a dollar to possibly save a penny. :rolleyes:
I mean... We see just how legacy many airline booking and IT systems are regularly. In theory we really should need to type a bunch of IATA airport codes and then decipher a bunch of abbreviations that spit out to work out the fares , but that is indeed what systems like GDS is doing.

You can build some pretty interface over it which is what most airlines and google does, but the underlying tech is ancient. As for why noone has done something about it? Who knows.

PS funnily QF does make it very easy to see what the booking class is if you have QBR and book there. It is however a different booking system than their main site and is more tailored to trips and business travel management.
 
With all respect and understanding...'I feel', too many of the Frequent Flyer Websites, AFF included, can be a little kindly and unforgiving of many of these repeat offending airlines...with their complex range of lounge access rules and points to fly rules...etc..the customer needs to be a workless, dogged, investigative, flying sleuth, to get even close to being on top of it all. I think simplicity has been purposely lost to sew confusion and financially exploit, rather than embrace the average FF.
I assume it's difficult for AFF and many other FF sites to really expose and stick it up 'em, when they are so close to the coughpit....the recent Qantas FF programme 'enhancements' is a great example of screwing the FF customer for double the number of points, under the incredible headline of 'giving FF what they have been asking for'.....as for searching for classic up the front with your partner, it's an odious exercise in frustrating futility.

I agree with this. It's astounding how every time someone posts on AFF a story where they've been treated badly how a large proportion of the AFF membership attacks the poster and accuses them of either being ignorant or of being somehow exploitative of the airlines. It's bizarre.
 
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All the complexities around the lounge access, baggage allowance, etc, just begs the question why should it be like that? You'd think that as an industry it'd make also their life easier if the approaches were harmonised.

'KISS' is a great principle and would most likely be a lot cheaper to operate. By creating complexity, companies are spending a dollar to possibly save a penny. :rolleyes:
I have a different view.

Yes, the rules around lounge access can be complicated, but… I look up the rules before I fly. The rules often become ‘complicated’ because some people book first, assuming what the rule will be, and then have the frustration of trying to bend the rules to fit their plans. We had an example in a recent thread where an AFFer assumed because Air New Zealand operated their FF program one way, that Qantas would be the same. I don’t think that’s the fault of Qantas.

You don’t really need to be across all the rules for every airline, just the one you want to book with in the immediate future.

I agree with mattg’s points around things like the Air France partnership. It’s frustrating when you can’t even get an answer from either airline. But, in that situation I had a choice to book AF/KL, couldn’t get an answer on the rules, so I booked BA. Not worth the hassle of trying to sort it out later.

Agree too that earning tables are complex. But then the flip side is being able to take advantage of different pricing across different programs, and the sweet spots in each.
 
Yes, the rules around lounge access can be complicated, but… I look up the rules before I fly.
It is OK to know the rules and be aware of subtle naunces. But that does not always help.

One of the more common problems is while you, as the well informed, PAX know the rules but a lounge attendant does not.
 
Way too generous article. Incorrect information from the airlines should be called what it is, fraud. They should be prosecuted when they don't provide what they've publicly stated they will provide.
 
In your article you refer to ”…Qantas, that do not display the fare class when you book on their websites. There is no way to be sure what fare class you’re booking – only various workarounds to try to guess it.” And then “In most of the cases mentioned in this article, I genuinely don’t believe that the loyalty program was deliberately trying to be deceitful.”
If you book via the Qantas Business Rewards portal, the fare class is shown, so they obviously do have a way to present it, they seem to just choose not to.
 
Too right. It is about time that Australian Consumer Law caught up with the surplus of dodgy, inaccurate and contradictory information, as they stick to the 'rules' when it comes to Consumer Law and their 'Conditions of Sale" and Carriage.
Are you seriously expecting the Australian Government and Cath King et al to introduce a EU261 style regulated environment where the Consumer is protected? ROFL. Good luck with that. No way they gonna forgo their precious Platinum Status and Chairman’s Lounge Access as supposed Public Servants.

Remind me again, how are our tax payer dollars working for us?
 
'I feel', too many of the Frequent Flyer Websites, AFF included, can be a little kindly and unforgiving of many of these repeat offending airlines...with their complex range of lounge access rules and points to fly rules...etc..the customer needs to be a workless, dogged, investigative, flying sleuth, to get even close to being on top of it all. I think simplicity has been purposely lost to sew confusion and financially exploit, rather than embrace the average FF.
I assume it's difficult for AFF and many other FF sites to really expose and stick it up 'em, when they are so close to the coughpit....the recent Qantas FF programme 'enhancements' is a great example of screwing the FF customer for double the number of points, under the incredible headline of 'giving FF what they have been asking for'.....as for searching for classic up the front with your partner, it's an odious exercise in frustrating futility.
Are you suggesting that AFF and parent company Pointhacks is not acting in the interests of their members and the public? Are there ulterior commercial incentives and motivations at hand? My experience suggests so as well.

Great first post BTW, and welcome to AFF.
 
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I agree with this. It's astounding how every time someone posts on AFF a story where they've been treated badly how a large proportion of the AFF membership attacks the poster and accuses them of either being ignorant or of being somehow exploitative of the airlines. It's bizarre.
I wouldn’t say everyone. Just a couple of members with commercial/political interests that are well known on this forum for all the wrong reasons. “UnAustralian” come to mind?
 
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