United Airlines Red Carpet Club survey

Yesterday I received an email inviting me to “share your opinions about being a Red Carpet Club member,” as it was so titled. Fantastic, I thought, that United Airlines wants feedback from current RCC members and I was hoping to give some praise and criticism since I figured they’re gathering direct input for the eventual rollout of a rebranded “United Club.” Without really reading the rest of the email, I clicked through to the questionnaire.

Image courtesy United Airlines

As it turns out, since I had redeemed miles for membership at one time this ended up being a targeted survey with an ominous tone. Here were the questions & options and my perhaps too honest of answers are bolded:

  1. If you were not able to use your miles to purchase your Red Carpet Club membership, would you have purchased your membership with money instead? A: Definitely would, probably would, probably would not, definitely would not, not sure
  2. If you were not able to use your miles to purchase your Red Carpet Club membership, how would you have redeemed those miles instead? Standard air award, saver air award, hotel or car award, merchandise or other award, would not have used the miles
  3. If you were not able to use your miles to purchase your Red Carpet Club membership, how would your satisfaction with Mileage Plus change? My satisfaction would have decreased, my satisfaction would not have changed, my satisfaction would have increased
  4. If you were not able to use your miles to purchase your Red Carpet Club membership, how would this affect your flying behavior on United? I would fly more often on United, I would not change how much I fly on United, I would fly less often on United

Then it asked a few classification questions about how long I’ve been a RCC member, my Mileage Plus status and how much I’ve flown on United and other airlines in the past year. Even though burning miles (47,500 for an individual membership at the 1K level) is a poor redemption value when compared with other awards, I ended up doing it that way last year since I’m always mileage rich and cash not-so-much at my renewal period in December. (I should never have started around the holidays!).

What’s concerning here is this survey is blatantly determining what impact would be felt if United pulled the mileage option. I find that possibility pretty strange coming from “the airline that wants you to use your miles,” or perhaps that tag line is now extinct with the merger. Several others on Flyertalk also received the survey and decisively answered that they would not pay cash, their satisfaction would be decreased and they’d reduce their flying on United. Maybe I should have done the same.

If they do take away the mileage option, I will still renew because given the amount I fly domestically, I enjoy having a fairly comfortable place to relax, plug into Wi-Fi, have a light snack, and most importantly have a much shorter wait time to see a customer service agent in the event of irregular operations. Would such a change impact your opinion of United and/or RCC membership?

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Comments

  1. I agree that it seems silly given RCC membership has 0 variable cost and they do want you to use your points (that won’t change – it’s the barometer of program success for any program and financially necessary to remove liabilities off the books).

    But the big issue here might be cannibalization rate of paid memberships. They made using points for flights too hard, so RCC has become a popular redemption. Maybe paid memberships are just too low to pay for the club so they’re trying to figure out how to adjust.

    Does Continental offer points redemption for Presidents Club? If not, then that’s your answer: They’re just trying to figure out which is a better policy going forward.

    • Nice analysis Evan & you’re right, CO doesn’t offer the ability to redeem mileage for PC membership. I suppose then it’s “nice” for United to put the feelers out there before just outright making a change. I guess we’ll find out the outcome soon enough. If it does end up being cash only, United will certainly get flamed on Flyertalk & Milepoint, though I wonder how big of a population that will really be. I’d still renew with cash, though, as I mentioned in the post.

  2. While the frequent flier liabilities for airlines are an issue, I think at this point in the history of airlines REVENUE is more important than the reduction of liabilities. I think the airlines would far prefer to have one pay the ca. 400$ for the RCC either directly, or via a large CC annual fee than to debit miles even at a rate favorable to the airline.

  3. I have spent MileagePlus miles on my RCC membership for over a decade. If UA decides to eliminate that capability, it would be a major downgrade for the whole MileagePlus programme.

    I would not mind having UA raise both the monetary cost and M+ miles required for an annual membership, to reduce the current overcrowding, however.

    If I can’t spend miles on my club mebership, I likely will move a bunch of my flying over to AA and DL where I can spend air miles on club membership.

  4. No way in hell I’d use my miles or my $$ to get into those dumps United calls lounges, or “clubs”

    Love United. But their lounges are disgusting, dated and depressing.

    I only use United Clubs if I have no other choice, and entry is included with a p.s. business class flight or an international flight.

    But I try and use Star Gold partner lounges whenever I can.

    Shame United is not seeking feedback about the actual quality of their clubs

  5. I agree with Tim and Darren. I was really really dissapointed when finally got to try UA’s lounges. I’d rather they’d invest in bringing them up to par. When is a perk not a perk?

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