The Wall Street Journal‘s Scott McCartney writes about the recently-completed Star MegaDO.
Sadly I wasn’t able to go on the trip. The scheduled dates for the event made sense because that’s when United would most likely be able to make the new Boeing 787 available for a group of frequent flyers to charter, mere days after its entry into commercial service. And the dates for the event also coincided with when we would be able to get on United CEO Jeff Smisek’s schedule. Securing the best plane and the head of the airline certainly trumped my availability. So while I helped to put the trip together, I couldn’t go on it.
So I thoroughly am enjoying reading accounts of the event, including Scott’s.
Question from frequent flier: Why can’t I use miles instead of cash anymore to buy an annual membership to United Airlines airport lounges?
Answer from loyalty-program manager: The ability to use miles to buy United Club memberships will be restored next year.
That’s the kind of exchange that went on between a group of rabid frequent fliers and under-fire managers at United Airlines late last week. The airline hosted about 200 travel-lovers at its Chicago headquarters, arranged by the online frequent-flier community MilePoint.com.
… In Chicago, United put on an elaborate experience for the customers before standing up to their questions and complaints at headquarters. Chefs staged fancy food and wine tastings for some MilePoint travelers, drawing feedback from the frequent fliers as they tried to educate them on the challenges of serving food and wine in airplane cabins, where dry conditions dull taste buds. Others in the group got hands-on tours of airline operations at O’Hare International Airport. They were out on the ramp as bags were loaded and airplanes pushed back from jetways.
A few got to help gate agents check in passengers and make announcements, even standing in as harried travelers asked about missed connections and other snafus. Some even got to spray de-icing truck cannons (with water, not de-icing fluid) and pop a couple of out-of-service emergency-evacuation slides. Others learned how United (and other airlines) evaluate markets to select new routes and make decisions on crew scheduling and canceling flights.
Then, on Friday, United executives from various departments, including some under attack for computer problems and unpopular policy changes in the frequent-flier program, took questions.
More than $100,000 was raised for charity during the trip, frequent flyers bonded and got great experiences not just from United but also from hotel sponsor Hyatt. And customers engaged over thorny issues like the airline selling upgrades to non-status passengers for less money than they’re willing to sell those upgrades to elites, and also why it can take so long to issue tickets after reservations are made — and why sometimes the award booking process can run into issues during ticketing.
Next up, I hope that the oneworld MegaDO will be able to happen when I don’t have an intractable scheduling conflict!