Two weeks ago I posted about an airline status seller, BasisTravel.com, and its dubious offering. It seems they have now shut down.
BasisTravel.com Goes Dark
A few weeks ago I wrote about BasisTravel.com. For those that didn’t get a chance to read that post (or didn’t click the link), in essence, this is how it worked:
- Major airlines (United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Southwest Airlines in this case) want to attract large corporate contracts from big companies so they give out airline elite status trials to clients to distribute to employees.
- Employees at those companies sell excess invitations to BasisTravel and either the company or the employee pockets the money.
- BasisTravel sold those invitations so that clients didn’t have to earn status to become an elite member in the offered loyalty programs.
Since publication, a reader pointed out to me that the website has gone dark, social media marketing appears to have stopped and I can’t find an online profile for them at this point. It appears to me that they have gone away at least under this name, though it could become a whack-a-mole for airlines to combat this activity.
Why This Is Important To Frequent Flyers, Airlines, and Corporate Clients
When airlines offer these programs it’s a great way to introduce their brand to new flyers and for those travelers to see if a new airline would provide the experience and routes that make sense. A brand in Fort Worth, TX that has customers in New York, Houston, Miami, San Francisco, and Los Angeles might be a great target for United Airlines to steal the business away from American. But it has to give incentives for those flyers to switch. Some of those flyers won’t want to start over with a new airline points and miles systems, but giving them instant status to try them out eases the blow of sitting in the back of the plane with no perks.
Likewise, perhaps Delta has really aggressive pricing for the same Fort Worth customer which looks attractive to executives signing off on those trips. However, granting medallion status, and eliminating medallion qualification dollars isn’t necessarily enough to offset a connection in Atlanta, Salt Lake, or Minneapolis. Savings will be cancelled by overnight last-minute hotels, taxis, and meals that are needed because of delays in the connection city.
For frequent flyers, the preservation of status is key. As Delta once said, and I often regurgitate: “When everyone’s an elite flyer, no one is.” That rings true when the line for pre-boarding is around the corner. It’s not uncommon for a hub-to-hub flight (Chicago-Dallas) to have 50 or more upgrade requests from anyone with even the lowest of statuses. The bottom 45 or so will never clear, so more frequent flyers don’t help the cause for those who don’t have a corporate trial.
It’s also important to shut down shady and nefarious characters when they pop up. One of the (now taken down) FAQs on the site mentioned that customers could use the service again and again, only paying once the status had been applied to their accounts. For someone like myself and many of our readers who expend a lot of personal time and money into maintaining status, it’s a gut punch, especially at the highest status levels.
Others Like It
Over the last decade since I have been writing about status miles, and points many of these offers have cropped up. Sometimes they appear on eBay for sale, and at least in the case of BasisTravel it was a guaranteed result or you were charged nothing. Still, how does one trust an entity that is this shady? What happens to employees caught selling their company’s additional certificates?
There will be others like it, without a doubt, and this won’t be the last time airlines have to shut them down. In the case of Basis, what made it so unique was how brazen it was. Ads on social media, a fully functioning website – this usually isn’t done with transactions made in the shadows. Their gall is what made it worth writing about.
BasisTravel shut down its website and social media presence a few weeks after my post appeared. This site may not be the reason for the shutdown, but its timing is coincidental in the least. It’s important for airlines, companies, and frequent flyers that such promotional status challenges remain in the proper hands and moved through the proper channels. Basis won’t be the last of this type of transaction, but it may have been the boldest to date. What’s more curious for me is what will happen to those who bought or sold the promotional statuses and how the airlines and their employers handle the transaction.
What do you think?