If you want to get anywhere in the world, it all boils down to status. I had arranged to fly to my native land using an airline I shall refer to as Harrumph. I chose Harrumph because I have frequent flyer miles; in the not so long ago olden days, I recalled earning 5,000 miles for roundtrip flights from here to there.
As it turns out, the not so long ago olden days are long ago olden days. What was 5,000 miles then equals 2,000 miles now. Since I couldn’t do the math, I called Harrumph for a tutorial. What happened to my miles? I wondered.
The lady explained that I wasn’t the right status. She said if I were high status, I would get a lot of miles whereas low status flyers get fewer. All men are created equal, but not all passengers.
She mentioned the possibility of complimentary upgrades.
“Complimentary upgrades?” I asked. “What kind?” I envisioned a free bag of salted peanuts.
She hemmed and hawed and said she’d have to see, she’d have to check, she’d have to get back to me.
I said, “Most companies, if they have a dissatisfied customer on the line, they try to do something nice to ensure a customer’s loyalty. You have a choice: you can transform a dissatisfied customer into a happy customer or you can transform a dissatisfied customer into no customer. I could always switch airlines.”
“No! Don’t do that,” she begged. “We don’t want you to go. Please stay.” She said she’d upgrade my seat to Economy Plus for the outbound only.
Before we hung up, she said, “You’re the best part of Harrumph.”
I was glowing. Not only did I get a complimentary upgrade, I also got a compliment.
And maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll get a bag of peanuts, too.