Recently I saw the new Clooney movie - Up in the Air. A good movie, I recommend it. In the movie, the central characters are people who spend a lot of time traveling for work. Clooney's character is loyal to American Airlines, and loyalty is one of the themes portrayed through the flick (both his loyalty to the airline, if little else in his life, as well as the lack of loyalty seen in other areas of life - like professionally and personally). I saw this movie in St. Louis (where some of it was filmed), traveling here to spend some time with family for the holidays. Until this June, I was a loyal American Airlines flier. No, my work does not keep me in the air often, but whenever I flew for work or personally, I went to some lengths to be loyal to American. I even have (soon to be had) the credit card (Citibank will also be losing my business!). For a brief time, I enjoyed the luxury of gold status, where American Airlines recognizes you as a human being.
But I have lost that, and with the loss of gold status, I also lost status as a human being in the eyes of American Airlines. As many of my consultant colleagues like to refrain, they all treat you that way (they say, from their comfy corporate executive platinum lounges). The difference, American likes to tell you that if you are loyal, you matter. in the movie, Clooney's character was rewarded. in reality - nope. So...they lose my loyalty. And because of the little things that annoy me - like I can't use my upgrade points ever because I've lost status (even though I still have the upgrade points) and they charged me more than a little to use my miles, and never replied to a customer service email I sent (requesting a response) - they have lost my business.
American Airlines is a corporation loyal to corporations. I worry that companies have no residual sense of loyalty to individuals left. My airline struggle is a minor annoyance, but what about companies who layoff good employees of 20 years and take away their pensions? What abut companies who don't get decent health care for their employees because it cuts into their profits? In a time when we are trying to come together as a country for the greater good, these small instances of broken loyalty eat away at my confidence in the corporations that drive so much of what this country has come to be.
So, as I sit here in Lambert airport, mentally noting to even take a connection next time I fly here just to avoid flying American Airlines, I try to cast off another bit of my idealism (that a group of people can have a sense of loyalty without a big $$$ behind it)- and get ready for a bumpy ride home.