I fly US Airways a lot. Not road-warrior status, but several thousand miles per month.
In the many years I’ve flown US Airways, my assigned boarding zone has varied. You know, sometimes you win (Zone 1 or 2), sometimes you lose (Zone 4 or 5). But something’s changed – in the last few months, I’ve been consistently assigned Zone 4 or 5 for boarding. Understand, it’s not just drawing the short straw occasionally – it’s become a running joke among my travel colleagues – “Bye Cathy, see you in [insert city here]”.
Lately I’ve eschewed wheeled luggage for soft duffel bags that fit under the seat. As any traveler knows, Zone 4 or 5 equals no overhead bin space. As in, “sorry, we’re gonna have to go ahead and gate-check that bag for ya, ma’am.”
I am loyal to the airline. I’m frequently assigned TSA Pre-Check status. My ticket fares are almost never in the aggregator bargain-basement tier. They have every reason to like me. So why is this happening?
I have a theory – I’ve never signed up for their credit card.
I suspect my consumer and behavioral profile fits US Airways’ propensity model of customers who should. One of the perks of a US Airways credit card holders is – wait for it – Zone 2 boarding for all flights. My hypothesis is that the inconvenient boarding zone assignments are being used as a prod. They’re to nudge me into signing up for their credit card so I can start carrying a wheeled bag again. Too Machiavellian, you say? Perhaps. But that’s my theory.
I’m so onto you, US Airways. You are the masters of segmentation. But I don’t care how many times you assign me to Boarding Zone Siberia. You can’t make me get your credit card. I can hold out. Two words. Travel knits.
Update 4/18/14: The siege is over – got Zone 2!!
Update 6/18/14: No, it’s not over – oh, alright, I’m getting the damn card. You win.