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?