(a revised 2007 post) I just used some frequent flyer miles on United. At one time (actually twice I recall) I had Premier frequent flyer status. Now - forget it I'm just a dirt bag to them.
Had you ever heard of "mileage runs"? It's the practice of making special trips just to keep your frequent flyer status at a higher level. You know those desired seats with the extra space between them (called pitch)? You need to be a "Premier" to select those or pay extra money.
After the company where I worked cut back on travel, I went to dirt bag status on United.
What a difference - there was a time when they sent me free upgrades in the mail - sweet.
Oh this fickle relationship leaves me annoyed. My dirt bag status became very apparent during a recent mileage transaction. As most travelers I wanted to fly direct. Well I found some good direct flights but when I tried booking at the 25,000 per trip rate - NO those flights were not even offered. I changed some setting and found the direct flights (more than one) were ONLY offered for TWICE the miles = 50,000! Still economy seating just a direct vs. layover trip.
Reminds me of being dumped once by a cute girlfriend after the summer and our trips to the beach club were over. I became worth less than a bottle of suntan lotion.
I flew the connecting flight but it sucks to know there were better flights, for the Premiers.
(oh Mr. Spaceman at the top? - he just looks upset like I feel. Maybe they cut off his fresh air or the helmet is too tight?)
Lastly, a 2014 update on reward programs. Things have gotten even worst by comparison. Back in 2007 baggage fees were not common. Now there is minimum spending requirements to obtain elite status (vs. just miles flown) and the definition of “frequent flier mile” is no longer tied to distance but rather money spent on the ticket. See this article for more details.
I should probably find some good shoes and practice extending my thumb out.