Should business travelers get better concessions for travel complaints?

The American Customer Satisfaction Index released a report showing that percentage-wise business travelers
file official complaints more than personal travelers when traveling, specifically flying and staying at hotels.  The percentage of airline business traveler complaints is the highest it has been in three years.  With that being said, the airlines and hotels are listening when business travelers complain.  Satisfaction for complaint handling was higher for business travelers than for personal in both the airline and hotel category. (To see all the numbers of the survey click here. )complaints

Now, it’s obvious that because business travelers travel more there are more chances for travel complaints.  But the interesting thing to me is that business travelers are more satisfied with the outcome of the complaint.  What’s making business travelers so much more satisfied with their complaint resolution compared to personal travelers?  One can only assume that they are being offered more when filing a complaint.  More concessions, better service, and so on.    

That brings me to my main question.  Should a business traveler get better treatment than a non business traveler when they have the same complaint?  According to this survey the airlines say yes.  And maybe they’re actually right.  I mean, we spend more money and more hours in the sky.  Why should someone that travels once a year get the same treatment and concession for a complaint as someone who travels dozens of times a year?

Here’s how I see it.  If a non-business traveler filed the same complaint as I did, and the results are equal concessions (either through miles, voucher, upgrade, etc.) I honestly have no problem with those results.  Sure I spend more money and time with this hotel or airline, but as long as I’m not getting less than the non business traveler I can live with that.  In other words, I don’t expect to be awarded 20,000 points while the non-business traveler gets 10,000.  15,000 equally between the two of us would be fine with me.   With that being said, if it comes down to a concession where there’s something like only one seat available, or one more room available, then my thinking changes dramatically.  In that scenario it only makes sense that the airline or hotel choose their more loyal customer!   If a concession can’t be given equally then loyalty (or status) should certainly be taken into account.

Even though I feel like this is the fairest way for airlines and hotels to handle issues, we all know not everyone is treated equally when it comes to a filed complaint.  I’ve been on a flight that has been canceled for maintenance delays and when I received my concession I overheard other (obviously) non-frequent flyers receiving less of a concession than I did.  Airlines and hotels are in the business of making money, and that means keeping their big spenders happy.  So win for business travelers, but not so much for everyone else.

Readers, what do you think? Should airlines and hotels issue concessions regardless of loyalty? Or should it be taken into consideration?

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  1. Business travelers may also be more satisfied because their expectations are more realistic.

  2. I think there are several things going on here:
    * Business travelers probably know more about the rules and regulations. That means that when they file a complaint it is much more likely to be legitimate.
    * Business travelers usually by higher fares and more expensive rooms than a regular traveler. The company is much more likely to respond to a higher paying customer.
    * As Keith stated, a business traveler has better knowledge and expectation about what can and can’t be done to resolve the problem.

  3. I almost think the opposite as a business traveler myself. If you are only flying occasionally it’s probably part of a special reason like a vacation or family visit in which case if it gets messed up you are prone to be upset and you don’t have access to status to try and get it fixed.
    As a business traveler I certainly hate when things go wrong but I have a number of tools to get them corrected and while missing a day somewhere is not something I want it doesn’t ultimately affect me as much as if I had to use vacation days and my own money to get somewhere and not know the best way to get compensation. I think it’s a tough balance and having been on both sides of the fence.
    I am certainly sympathetic to people who plan vacations and then have a delayed flight send the whole plan out of whack and make people cry over lost family time, money etc.

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