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Airlines have made frequent flyer miles difficult
enough to afford a "jailhouse lawyer" type of
expert on frequent flyer miles.
I have sky miles and frequent flyer miles, base miles,
million miler qualifying miles; I have segment
upgrades and transoceanic segments, silver
skymile and skychoice awards.
And that's just from one airline. Some of this
(In addition, there's the potential of pushing airlines
to granting privileges based on a status in another
airline, similar to shops honoring a competitor's
||[PeterSealy]: The main problem with charging the same price for every ticket is that the value of the seats (the price they can command) can change wildly over time and among different customers. Airlines have got a bit of a Christmas-tree / hallowe'en pumpkin sort of problem with every flight, among other things -- they need to be able to charge as much as possible to the most desperate customers, but also make deals to unload the merchandise fast as the day of worthlessness (empty seats at takeoff = unsold conifers on December 26) approaches. And then there are middlemen who are able to market more-or-less discounted tickets to every possible price point, and so on. Plane tickets are very interesting, if you happen to find this sort of thing interesting, for the incredibly variety of prices charged for the exact same thing. One solution to all this nonsense is the on-line auction, in which airlines offer all of their tickets directly to consumers and strike deals at various prices at various times, cutting out the bucket shops and travel agents.
||Things like air miles are intended to encourage brand loyalty among frequent-fliers (along with things like swank lounges and whatever else they offer you lot when the rest of us are permanently damaging our spines trying to nap in airport waiting areas), because you must continue to fly the same airline, more or less, to rack enough up to go anywhere interesting. Airlines may not be keen to make them freely tradable, because the whole point of having them would evaporate. On the other hand, there are some 'alliances' which will let you do some of this sort of thing among certain partnered airlines, presumably because the alliance members tend to be in different parts of the world and do not compete directly on most routes, and they can offer many more destinations on points this way. Of course, the worth of any particular customer's continued patronage is precisely the amount they are likely to spend in the future, which is where different categories like 'extra triple platinum super ultra silver-bullet hyper-elite' and merely 'super elite' come in. And then there are special promotions and things which complicate the points schemes with different kinds of points and so on. There's not necessarily that much point in simplifying things too much, from the airline's perspective: In a perfect world, you will be convinced that you are accumulating great treasures by flying a certain airline while still being much too confused to actually cost them any money by taking free trips anywhere.
||Someone who would make sense of all of this might do well. It also seems like the airline points schemes might be easy enough to make an on-line service out of. If it could somehow get the airlines to cooperate, it might be able to download information on all of the crap you have accumulated and sort out exactly what you have coming to you and when you must cash your points in by.