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IRATE: MAS’ latest move has loyal passengers fuming
QUITE a number of individuals received notifications from Malaysia Airlines that they are no longer Gold Enrich members. The notifications have been mailed to these individuals as they go through the list of qualifiers.
What is this Gold Enrich membership, one may ask. Well, this is a membership offered by the airline to individuals who clock a certain amount of flying time with the airline. These individuals are given a card displaying their name, entitling them to certain privileges.
Those who fly more often are offered Platinum membership. The privileges vary from extra luggage clearance and upgrades to free use of the airline lounge. If they collect enough mileage, they can also get free passage depending on terms and conditions.
Airlines all over the world have this frequent flyer loyalty programme. This is a reward scheme aimed at incentivising passengers. The more you fly with the airline, the more free mileage you get. You may redeem them for free tickets if available.
Many young travellers apply for Enrich membership, hoping to collect as much mileage as possible. The airline industry is so competitive that travellers have so much to choose from nowadays.
They can also choose budget airlines. I know friends who fly only on MAS. One told me he flew with MAS because the stewardesses were friendly and young. He's not alone, of course.
Another told me because she was confident that the food was halal. When I argued that the food might not be all that great, she said that's not important. Knowing that the food is halal gives her a strong enough reason to fly MAS.
One irate Gold Enrich member was fuming when she was downgraded. She had good reason to feel dumped and insulted.
The airline notified her that she had been downgraded because she didn't amass enough mileage for one year. I won't reproduce her full tirade but her outburst deserves attention.
She argued: "What about the number of years I stuck with MAS even when others were changing to KLM and Emirates? Etihad, too, offers attractive fares.
"But I stuck with MAS because I'm loyal to the core. What about the efforts I made to convince my board members to fly MAS and that we all have a duty to our own airline?
"Yes, I didn't fly much for one year. I was busy domestically, I flew all over the country. I stuck with MAS through thick and thin, and this is how the airline rewards me.
"The airline should have some finesse in engaging its regular clients. Have some good manners, too. Is this how MAS treats its frequent flyers -- on a yo-yo string? MAS expects me to be loyal. Can I expect MAS to be loyal to me in return? Isn't loyalty a two-way street?"
Well, what can one say. I'm sure bean counters all over the world will agree that managing the accounts and making sure operations show good bottom-line are crucial.
But meticulous counting alone won't ensure profitability. Somewhere within the national airline, there must be a heart. There must be a few good men who also have the welfare of its loyal, paying passengers at heart. Otherwise, there's nothing to stop them from boarding Emirates, KLM or Singapore Airlines.