Is the travel industry thinking small or just being small-minded?

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By Christopher Elliott

True story: US Airways, which has been in the news this week for announcing it will add first class service to its smallest planes, sent frequent flier Margery Wilson the following apology late yesterday.

Earlier this week, we inadvertently delivered an email message to many of our Dividend Miles members’ email accounts. Unfortunately, one of those accounts was yours. Worse, this email incorrectly stated that we posted 1,000 Dividend Miles into your account. This was not accurate and the email message was sent in error.

We apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused you and appreciate your understanding.

Wilson thought it was a belated April Fool’s joke. “If it wasn’t such a paltry amount I might be upset,” she said.

The same email was sent to quite a few frequent fliers last night, apparently.

US Airways is thinking small in at least one other important way: It wants to merge with another airline. Its CEO, Doug Parker, says there’s “one deal left.”

The week is full of other examples of “smaller is better” thinking, from the government’s approval of Google’s plan to buy ITA (some might also call that “small-minded” thinking) to Expedia’s decision to ditch TripAdvisor.

Less, it seems, is more.

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I had a little encounter with less-is-more proponents in yesterday’s discussion on the Travel Troubleshooter, this site’s oldest and most established feature. Just scroll down to see the discussion.

Several readers voiced their disappointment that this site had turned into a free-for-all. They want me to go back to advocating for travelers and posting the results with less discussion. Specifically, they’d like to lose the polls — especially the ones they say are badly-worded.

They’re probably not going to like this.

You can see my responses to their criticism in the discussion. I don’t know if I have anything to add, except to say the polls — even the badly-worded ones — allow people to interact with the stories who wouldn’t otherwise do it. And besides, if you don’t like a poll, you don’t have to vote, do you?

I’m not sure what to make of all this. But I’ve never shied away from giving you my opinion, so here it goes:

US Airways’ plan to install first class seats in biplanes (I’m kidding) seems a little silly. Shouldn’t it try to improve the seats for all of its customers first before adding this frivolous new feature? (Here’s your ultimate guide to travel loyalty programs.)

Regarding Doogie’s merger plans, why try to put together a deal with another airline when you’ll be able to buy its remains in bankruptcy court soon?

The Dividend Miles email to Wilson?


Here’s the note they sent to her on April 4.

Miles make you smile…
…And they get you where you want to be

We know you love award travel…and we love seeing you happy! So, we added 1,000 bonus miles to your account.* We hope these miles get you a little closer to your next award trip. Keep flying and using Dividend Miles partners and you’ll be on your way in no time!

They should have just let her keep the miles.

And the Orbitz and TripAdvisor developments? Never really understood what the fuss was with Google’s plans to buy ITA or with TripAdvisor.

PS — You have spoken: the polls stay.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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