Shaving the Bologna Ever-Thinner

First, Starbucks tried to make me learn Italian.

Always bad at languages, I ignored their preferred “venti” and “grande,” and continued to order my (very occasional) “16 oz. skim latte,” same as always.

Next, I had to decipher the rental car companies’ vernacular.

Let me save you 20 minutes on hold: a “standard” SUV is bigger than an “intermediate” SUV.

Airlines Embrace “Venti” and “Grande” Lingo

Now, major airlines are shaving their “rewards” lexicon into ever-thinner slices of bologna, as my old Criminal Law Professor, David Bryden, might say.

Consider the following:

“Right now, you can upgrade a coach ticket to business class if you spend enough miles or have top-tier status and an international upgrade certificate. But on many airlines outside the U.S., an upgrade goes up only one class of service”economy to premium economy, not business. So you’d need to buy a premium-economy seat to upgrade to business class.”

“Are Your Frequent-Flier Miles About to Lose Value?”; The Wall Street Journal (12/20/2018).

Got all that?

I sure don’t.

And, I suspect that that’s the whole point.

From “Jumbo Shrimp” to “Premium Economy”

Once upon a time, companies used coupons to sort price-sensitve consumers from more price-indifferent (and lucrative) ones.

Companies still use coupons, of course, but now they also use byzantine awards programs, each with their own defined terms and even currencies (“points”).

So, airlines no longer offer “First Class” and “Coach.”

Now, it’s “Business Class” and “Economy” — except that each has separate sub-tiers.

For example, in addition to Delta Airlines’ “Regular Economy” (or, just plain “Economy”), there’s also “Basic Economy” and “Premium Economy.”

Of course, travelers must now also navigate airlines’ minefield of 18(?) digit frequent flyer numbers, advance check-in requirements, cancellation and change fees, seat selection, baggage fees, etc.

All of which makes a “stay-cation” sound pretty good.

Or driving — check out gas for $2 a gallon!

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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