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At some point in the future, life will return to what it was like just a few months ago and people will be going about their lives and doing their best to forget the chaos that we’re witnessing right now…but I hope we don’t forget everything.
During times of crisis, there are always those who do the right things and those who head for cover and do everything to protect themselves regardless of the consequences for others…and that’s as true for the travel industry as it is for anyone else.
We shouldn’t forget this.
Right now, the whole world is getting to see how various airlines, hotel chains, tour operators and travel agencies are responding to the crisis around us, and it’s already becoming obvious that some are acting with a lot more integrity than others.
In the hotel industry, we saw Hyatt take the first steps to offer a modicum of compensation to those with non-refundable bookings before canceling its award chart devaluations for a year and improving on the cancellation policies other hotel chains were offering. We’ve also seen the likes of IHG and Radisson leading the way with positive changes to their elite status offerings at a time when it’s very clear that elite status isn’t something people want to be worrying about.
Marriott and Hilton have made positive moves too but both were a little late to the party and there’s a very real suggestion that they were forced into introducing a lot of the changes they announced by the actions of Hyatt and IHG – nice touches are a little less nice when you realize that they may have been offered through gritted teeth.
In the airline industry, things are far worse and we’re seeing the true colors of a lot of the major players.
American, Delta, and United were all outed as gargantuan hypocrites when they got down on their knees to beg for government handouts after years of calling foul on the Middle Eastern carriers for doing the same thing (apparently it’s ok for the US3 to get government handouts when they’re in trouble but everyone else should go to the wall).
We have also seen…
- American refusing to waive award redeposit fees
- United attempting to con its flyers out of refunds
- JetBlue attempting to con its flyers out of refunds
- British Airways, easyJet, Qatar Airways, and Lufthansa all making it very hard for flyers to get refunds after the airlines canceled their flights
- Kenya Airways refusing to refund fully refundable fares
- SWISS claiming that they’re physically unable to process refunds because they focusing on rebookings and cancellations
- Boeing begging for $60bn in handouts despite being significantly responsible for its own dire situation.
…and a lot more too.
The sad fact is that there are very few who are standing out as the “good guys” in the airline industry but it’s worth noting that Alsaka Airlines has been receiving a lot of praise for how it has been dealing with its customers during these difficult times, and I’ve yet to see, hear or read of any instances of Alsaka Airlines attempting to prevent its flyers from getting what they’re due.
Let’s remember all of this.
Once this crisis is over, we (the traveling public) will have a great opportunity to reward the corporations, businesses, and agencies that acted with integrity throughout this mess and, just as importantly, we will have the opportunity to punish those who showed us their true colors.
When the dust settles, we should be looking to put more business the way of the airlines, hotels, and agencies that didn’t act with selfish abandon when times were tough and reduce our spending with those who treated us poorly.
Rewarding the good and punishing the bad is one of the few ways we have of trying to get the airlines and hotel chains to modify their behavior and if we simply go back to how things were once this is all over, where’s the incentive for the bad guys not to screw us all over again and where’s the incentive for the good guys not to join in?
I, like a lot of people, don’t have the luxury of being able to boycott some of the airlines that are treating me poorly right now (because of the routes I fly), but the next time I have a choice of airlines I’ll be thinking back to how each acted during this crisis and booking accordingly.
Likewise, although I can’t say that any hotel chain has done me much wrong (probably because I haven’t given them the opportunity), I’m going to remember which hotel chains did more for their customers than others during these trying times and try to push more business their way (Hyatt will definitely be getting more of my cash).
In the miles and points world, we’re often very good at complaining about how badly we have been treated by various airlines, hotels and travel agencies but we’re also incredibly bad about doing anything about it. Let’s use this terrible crisis to modify that behavior and finally reward those who deserve rewarding and punish those who treat us poorly – it’s the only real way we have to get them to take notice.