Double Miles, Changing Free One-Ways, Another Delta Blow to Alaska’s Peeps (Bits ‘n Pieces for April 15, 2014)

News and notes from around the interweb:

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. why do you promote Uber so much? i am all for competition but Uber practices against otehr car services are highly unethical… just google it.

  2. @ Gary — Re AA “free one-ways”, do you know if can you ADD them to award tickets issued before the rule change? You make it sound like “yes”, but Rom seems to be silent on the issue.

  3. One argument against Uber is that since they’re an unlicensed taxi service, they have no requirement to offer service at all hours. This means they’ll skim the cream of the most profitable service times, leaving no meat on the bone for regular taxis, but then not offer any service at times like 3am, which is necessary but unprofitable for regular taxis. This model will drive conventional taxis out of business, and result in inferior (or no) service at off-peak times. It’s just something to consider when discussing the virtues of Uber.

  4. @Antonio – Actually, they just help existing taxis or black cars fill unused time. They don’t own cars at all, they take existing resources and connect them up with people interested in using those resources when they’re underutilized.

    Meanwhile far from not offering service at all hours, they match consumer demand so when people want a ride there’s one available, including by raising price and passing on the vast majority of the increase to the driver as an incentive to come out.

    And rather than driving conventional taxis out of business, an UberTaxi model brings incremental revenue to those businesses.

    This notion of not providing service at off hours makes no sense for a business with a big capital investment (a car). You make money by using that investment all the time. Uber helps existing drivers to do that.

  5. @Gene Sorry, but if you change the departure or return of an award, you have to redeposit the miles and start over. You could not add them before, and you cannot add them now.

  6. @ Robert Hanson — I have done it before. I’m EXP (well, I was, and my partner is), so maybe that’s is how it was processed, and I did not realize it.

  7. @Gary you still didn’t address the point that Uber isn’t subject to regulations that make taxis fair for all. Now, i am not going to claim that regulation is the savior of all, but if all the good drivers move to Uber then NO ONE will service those without smartphones, or without the $ for a premium taxi service. There ARE reasons for rules. Yes, sometimes there is regulation to save existing businesses, but there are also reasons for regulations for the good of the public, not just specific members of the public. I happen to LIKE Uber, and have used them in many cities, but I realise there are major problems if they take over the streets.

  8. I completely agree with your views on Uber, but it may be worth mentioning that there are apps out there that work with regular taxis.

    At least in Europe. I recently used a local Android app in Bratislava to summon taxis. It is basically an alternative to dialing a phone number, with the added conveniences of choice (you can limit to drivers with language skills, or only highly rated), watching your taxi on the map, and tariff-based quotes that were spot-on in my limited experience. You can then rate your driver, and add him to your list of favorites. These are regular taxis, so you still pay the driver.

    Looking forward to trying similar apps in other cities.

  9. @joelfreak – taxis are very much NOT fair to all, taxis have always had a huge issue with redlining, refusing to drive to certain parts of town, generally unfair to racial minorities — in a way that Uber and similar services are not, or at least to any significant degree.

  10. @Gary You JUST listed the reasons WHY taxis are regulated. In cities like NY, they are REQUIRED to pickup EVERY fare, and NEVER pass anyone hailing them. They are also spread out in the city…Uber isn’t required to do any of that. To me thats an argument FOR the regulation, NOT for a company that has none.

  11. @joelfreak except this is precisely what happens despite — and sometimes because of – taxi regulation. Furthermore, every UberBlack car is already regulated as an existing provider and every UberTaxi driver is licensed as a cab. Uber itself is a not a taxi company, it is a computer system that helps match up service providers (existing regulated cars) and consumers to provide them better service. And its rating system turns out to be a more effective system of regulation than taxi regulators which most often turn out to be captured by the industry and most effective at blocking competition/protecting incumbent interests.

    Now, the only area where there’s space for the argument you’re making is in UberX where new drivers enter whose services aren’t regulated by existing structures. Here too they take underutilized resources and help drivers to monetize those while providing an affordable service.

    But by definition this isn’t taking existing service off the streets. It’s an add-on. Their rules do require service to all, and they’re more effective at enforcing it than existing taxi regulators.

  12. @Gary its an addon that COULD end up making regular taxis not cost effective, which is not nec a bad thing, but can’t just be shrugged off. I am against regulations saying NO Uber, but I am definitely for making sure regulators look at business models like it, and make sure it doesn’t hurt society in general.

  13. @joelfreak except that’s very much not what local regulators DO… Google “washington dc taxi commission bribe” and you will see separate stories from 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013… I’m sure we could go back farther. Saying “we oughtta regulate” is the same thing, effectively, as saying “more crony capitalism please, let’s protect entrenched interests at the expense of consumers and the disadvantaged looking to make something of themselves as entrepreneurs.”

  14. @Gary so then your anger is placed at the wrong place. Lets not DEREGULATE, as the protections regulation is/was supposed to achieve are valid. Lets fix the system.

  15. @joelfreak you’re trying to make a cat that barks. There’s a reason why this is so prevalent across local taxi regulatory regimes. My point is that, while not perfect, the Uber approach actually provides a better regulatory framework through prices and information.

  16. @Gary There are many government programs that work. There is no reason to think this one cannot. To give up and just say its impossible is not the American way ™.

  17. @joelfreak – there are plenty of government programs that work but local single-industry regulators don’t tend to work nearly as frequently. they’re the archetype of regulatory capture. i don’t feel like i need to give up because i’ve actually found a pretty good solution in uber’s technology plus presumably tort law (granted some state insurance regulations could use an update perhaps).

    but if you have specific, concrete proposals for reforming taxi commissions i’m all ears… 🙂

  18. On a non-Uber note, Iberia actually does add a limited amount of fuel surcharges to its own flights even when booking with IB Plus Avios. For JFK-MAD in Business, it was 50 Euro each way. For an international shorthaul MAD-RAK in economy, it was just over 6 Euro each way.

  19. I just think that Uber works, and they should work with some of the regulators, but not against them. They seem to be getting the idea a bit now…but there is most definitely a place for the regulation. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *