Upgrd Podcast

Upgrd Podcast 18: Number 1 Fan

After a short break we are back with our next frequent flyer podcast. This week we are joined by Josh, a frequent contributor to our podcast and upgrd.com website. Josh has some good information on:

  • The American Airlines Business Extraa program - find out how you can get even more points from American
  • The new 737-800 cabin on American Airlines that we briefly discussed last time

We also discuss:

  • LAX
  • Hunter's non-love from Delta
  • and a special shocking request from Hunter for our listeners

Write in below!

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Comments

#1
listen May 8, 2009 at 07:55 pm
Hunter should stop dominating the show and stop making fun of Ben. You guys are all airline dorks. Your audience is all airline dorks. No one normal listens. So, why make fun of Ben for being an airline dork? Hunter talks way too much. What he is going to say is rarely novel or even interesting. You barely even let Matthew get a word in. Delta does not let you in business class for free or cheap because it wants to incent you and incent everyone to pay thousands of dollars for the seat. Your unemployment is not Delta's problem. It's a business. You are rightly in coach looking at half empty business class cabin. That's how it should be. Delta will sell less business class fares if it enables more customers to upgrade for cheap or for free. Ever notice you are the only one who ever swears on the recording? Calm down and let others talk.
#2
Hunter May 8, 2009 at 11:44 pm

So, "listen":

A couple of things about your comments. The first is that if the powers that be didn't want me to dominate certain sections of the show, it would be edited differently. I've known Ben for a long time, and no matter what is said on the air, shocker as this might be - we have a good friendship in real life. Ben is made fun of because he does some of the most insane stuff on the planet. It's all in good fun. On a much more serious note, if I lived with my parents and three cats like you, I guess I wouldn't find guys like me to be novel or interesting, either.

As a final note, I have never suggested that my personal issues have anything to do with Delta. I spend 90% or more of my time on the show defending Delta and it's practices. No one can say that I haven't been the most loyal customer and a tremendous defender. To be honest, you sound like a disgruntled non-rev passenger who wants to make the rest of us suffer. I've got $50 that says you work for former NW or you're one of the jaded CRC a-holes in ATL. As I've said before, DL is the only major carrier that has NO legitimate international upgrade program, and the rest of the UPGRD crew agrees with me. If you listened, you would hear me stand up for DL on many previous podcasts (like the one where I defend DL's implementation of a different kind of double EQM bonus) - on the topic of how business is business, and money is money. Your buddy Ben stood firmly against me in those cases. DL will suffer as a business if this "global" airline doesn't implement parity with other majors on upgrading the choice routes. Do your research before you come at me with BS. Red dragons ass clown. Out.

#3
listen May 9, 2009 at 10:13 am
You stay classy, San Diego.
#4
Mike May 9, 2009 at 10:15 am

Hi Listen,

lol, you beat me to a reply.

Thanks for writing in - I wish more listeners would write in with their comments and especially criticisms. You are right - Hunter talks a lot. But to be fair, Matt was very late to our recording session and we kind of pasted him afterwards. If you were referring to Matthew, he just doesn't talk enough.

We have a lot of UA fan boys on our show (Ben, Matt, Matthew, and partially Fozz), Hunter brings some balance - albeit somewhat abrasive. But we hope that it makes the show interesting instead of Ben's usual "UA is bad, but I love em" non sense. If anyone should be voting with their feet it should be our United flyers - otherwise Tilton will never go.

Thanks for writing!

Mike

#5
Hunter May 9, 2009 at 10:20 am

Listen- Looks like I got your number. Thanks for playing, and please, keep listening. I wouldn't want one week to go by in which your delicate sensibilities don't go unchallenged.

#6
listen May 9, 2009 at 11:48 am
Sharing this email from Hunter waiting for me in the ole inbox. Channeling Stephen Morgan. BEGIN FROM HUNTER: So, "listen": A couple of things about your comments. The first is that if the powers that be didn't want me to dominate certain sections of the show, it would be edited differently. I've known Ben for a long time, and no matter what is said on the air, shocker as this might be - we have a good friendship in real life. Ben is made fun of because he does some of the most insane stuff on the planet. It's all in good fun. On a much more serious note, if I lived with my parents and three cats like you, I guess I wouldn't find guys like me to be novel or interesting, either. As a final note, I have never suggested that my personal issues have anything to do with Delta. I spend 90% or more of my time on the show defending Delta and it's practices. No one can say that I haven't been the most loyal customer and a tremendous defender. To be honest, you sound like a disgruntled non-rev passenger who wants to make the rest of us suffer. I've got $50 that says you work for former NW or you're one of the jaded CRC a-holes in ATL. As I've said before, DL is the only major carrier that has NO legitimate international upgrade program, and the rest of the UPGRD crew agrees with me. If you listened, you would hear me stand up for DL on many previous podcasts (like the one where I defend DL's implementation of a different kind of double EQM bonus) - on the topic of how business is business, and money is money. Your buddy Ben stood firmly against me in those cases. DL will suffer as a business if this "global" airline doesn't implement parity with other majors on upgrading the choice routes. Do your research before you come at me with BS, you ass-clown. If you are bothered by me, you can f*#k off. Nobody cares if you don't like my swearing or what I have to say. Funny, all the e-mails I get are positive, and the other UPGRD guys laugh at my jokes. I encourage you to tell me to calm down again. Do it. See what happens, you zit faced #*($-licker.
#7
mauiUAflyer May 9, 2009 at 03:36 pm

Hey Guys-

Really enjoy your podcast. Just listened to the latest 2 episodes while on the way from BOS-SFO. I'm here in the SFO RCC, and checked the website, but no joy with any new episodes. I'll have to watch a movie on my laptop on my flight home to OGG.

I like to download the 'casts and listen to them while flying. Entertaining. Especially like the faux drama between Hunter & Ben. Keep it up!

I enjoy flying, but I don't do mileage runs. I have enough biz & personal travel that actually take me "somewhere" that I want to be that I don't have to fly there and back with no time in between.

Hunter- it was good that some of the Delta scales fell from your eyes on the latest podcast. Flying an airline (being loyal to one, anyway) is akin to a religion or a marriage. I don't begrudge you Delta, but they don't work for me on many levels. My one & only Delta flight was probably my worst flight ever. I got stuck in the very last seat (by the head), and by the time the cart got back to me, there was no meal left for me (this was back in the day when they still served meals in coach). To add insult to injury, they tore the sh|t out of my Land's End bag. (Happily Land's End had an excellent guarantee and were able to stitch it up for me). Did I mention they also broke stuff in my bag? This was flying into their hub in Salt Lake.

So, like Ben & Matt, I fly UA. I have no illusions that UAL is any better company than Delta's parent (maybe even worse, I don't know), but for where I've lived and had to travel to, they've worked the best (MAD, IAD, DEN, OGG). Also, I've been lucky with them (and has been said, I would rather be lucky than good!), so for me it works. YMMV, as they say.

Keep up the good show. I'll be listening.

#8
Hunter May 9, 2009 at 04:03 pm
mauiUAFlyer- Thanks for the really nice comments. As a side note, where in Maui do you live? I've got a house in Wailea, and it's always nice to know the locals. I'm in your boat when it comes to mileage runs, except for maybe this year. No matter how much I see it, it's a foreign concept to me. I've been loyal to DL for a lot of reasons - my hometown, my family's connection to the airline, and most importantly, their kindness towards me when I've really needed it. Being southern and religious, loyalty to one airline has always worked for me. :) I would be curious to hear why DL doesn't work for you, if for any reason other than the IAD / DEN / OGG connection. I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience on DL. There was a period of time where in-flight service was TERRIBLE - particularly right before the bankruptcy - when everyone woke up and realized that they had to do the right thing if they were to survive. I hope that you will give them another shot and get a chance to see how much things have changed. That said, everyone has a "worst flight ever", and I've found that all the airlines have contributed equally to this issue. Sadly, in my case, I have found DL to be -close- to perfect with the exception of international upgrades. As of late, international upgrades are becoming more and more important to me. Take it easy, Hunter
#9
Golden Toque May 9, 2009 at 11:51 pm
As always, enjoyed this podcast. I met Ben at the Freddies a couple of weeks ago, and when I asked about his conflicts with Hunter, he chuckled, and said "yeah it's lots of fun, but believe it or not, we really get along well, and are good friends." I guess the podcast just brings out the best in both of them! Question for Hunter? How often do you fly transatlantic for the upgrade issue to be such a big deal?
#10
Hunter May 10, 2009 at 11:52 am

Golden Toque- Sorry to bust your bubble on the Ben / Hunter reality. It might be funnier if we really did hate each other. The transatlantic has been as high as two per month. So part of the issue is the quantity, and part of it is my wanting parity with other majors. Thanks for the questions. Hunter

#11
Golden Toque May 10, 2009 at 01:26 pm

Well, if you are flying that often over an ocean, then yes you do indeed have a point to complain to Delta, and I think they should listen. Once a year, not so much. Once a year, absolutely!

d.

#12
listen May 10, 2009 at 06:05 pm
I got hold of Hunter's fedex to Delta. Here it is -- word for word. Dear dick, It is time for Delta to provide business elite upgrades on cheap fares to demonstrate how you value people like myself. Everyone tells me they think I am the best Delta customer ever which means you should demostrate your gratitiude with an easy upgrade scheme on my twice monthly trips to Switerzerland for experimental asenapine treatment. This is my second request on this topic as my earlier call to SMS resulted in no action. The agent indicated the current policy was for revenue purposes, but I responded it was likely the agent just overcompensating for a small penis size. She hung up me shortly afterwards. Don't you dare reply to this letter with the same ass-backwards revenue bullshit. I swear to God, you better not you ass-man -- and I'm religious too being from the South. I'm not going to tolerate your corporate crap sandwich, you puss-filled-ecema uncle fucka. Sincerely, Hunter P.S. Red dragons.
#13
jb831 May 10, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Bypassing the in-fighting in this discussions section...

Great episode this week. I especially enjoyed the focus on AA, which typically does not receive as much "air time" as other airlines.

Also enjoyable (and indeed shocking!) was Hunter's request for listener suggestions regarding switching airline programs. I hope you will share with us what the masses have recommended (although, I do suspect some people would probably suggest United, just to get under your skin, lol).

Looking forward to the next show!

#14
andersjt May 11, 2009 at 05:01 pm
Hunter - its a tough decision to have to make, even worse, if you walk, the loss of the revenue will not make a ripple on the daily reports the suits in ATL look at. No matter how many Fedex letters we send, no matter how much noise we try to make, the customer will never be more than a number to those managers that are 6 steps back from the front line. Stick it out with Delta. You can migrate to UA and have better upgrade chances, but a vastly inferior product, that is only getting worse. As was mentioned in this show, AA is lacking internationally. CO, a great reputation, great world-wide network, but the unanswered question will be how CO customers will fare when they move over to Star Alliance. I am a die-hard UA customer. Even with all of their problems, what kept me going back were the people on the front lines. Once they recognize that a customer is on their side, they can be your best friend. They remember faces and names. I went to the shareholders meeting to voice support for the employees and how the low morale affects us customers. Things keep getting worse, and as Mike pointed out, the customers need to walk before the suits at WHQ will listen. I can threaten to take my $30K a year business to another carrier, and if I do, no one on Wacker Drive will notice. After a bad flight in early March, I could not get comfortable with staying loyal, even though I would miss those on the front-line that I now call friends. My decision was made though a couple of weeks ago after UAL's Proxy Statement came out. Tilton and his gang got paid more in 2008 than their counterparts at the other carriers, even though United performed the worst in terms of both unit operating data, and by losing nearly $43 a share. I also looked at Delta's proxy statement and in there they point out that managers did not receive a payout in 2008 under their short-term incentive plan because the company was not profitable, and there were no across the board salary increases for officers because the front-line employees have not achieved industry standard pay levels. The light bulb finally went off - as a premium fare flyer why should I stay loyal with United when all of that money I have spent is going into the pockets of Tilton, Tague, McDonald and Lovejoy? That is how I have decided I will probably make the switch over to Delta. Mike - you pointed out the UA customers need to start walking for Tilton to pay attention. When you look at April year-to-date traffic data, you will see that the customers are walking and UA is losing market share to their competitors. What I found most telling was that AA has increased capacity and picked up market share across the Pacific, yet Tilton continues to whine about the "economic realities" and their particularly hard hit exposure to the Pacific routes. I'm not sure if enough customers are leaving to get the Board to pay attention and have Tilton clean out his desk, but I do know that I will stop paying part of his bonus. Maybe it should come down to how the employees are treated if we are faced with the decision to defect to another carrier, or even making a decision which carrier to take our business to. After all, if the employees are treated poorly, the customers should expect the same.
#15
Hunter May 12, 2009 at 10:36 am

Golden Toque - Looks like we're on the same page. Thanks again.

lb831 - Thanks for your thoughts. Glad to hear we are addressing the lack of AA coverage. And on my request, believe me, I'm as shocked as you are.

andersjt - It's great to hear a different perspective on United.

And you're totally right - no one on Delta Boulevard gives a damn. They remind me of Bank of America at times - everyone is just a number, no matter what the balance sheet says, whether the account consists of dollars or miles.

CO would be my first choice, but as you have said, we need to wait and see how they alter their game plan with the Star Alliance folks.

I'm surprised to hear, though, that you have had good front line service from UA. My greatest issue with UA (as I've previously mentioned) is my previous dealings with them on the ground. A great fear of many Delta employees, and more Delta customers, is that with the addition of former-NW employees, key groups will be able to get a vote and bring in unions, which Delta has traditionally been free of. This union behavior, which I have so often seen at UA, and which I experienced first hand as a union member for 10 years, almost always leads to poor customer service and other difficulties that ripple from the top to the customer.

I applaud you on your decision, and if there is anything I can do to assist in your transition to DL, please let me know.

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