The Boomer demographic
What's behind the NextFlightHomeTM concept? Simple: "Boomers." I am one of them, a leading edge Baby Boomer born during the first wave in early 1946, after my Dad recovered from his World War II injuries and mustered out of the military to start his civilian career and family. These days, like so many of my 76 million-strong Boomer cohort (~28% of the U.S. population, defined more or less as those born during the period from 1946 through 1964), I keep one suitcase mentally packed at all times. My Dad is now 88 and lingering in a nursing home in central Florida, enfeebled by dementia. My Mom is 82 and still independent, though only marginally mobile. The enervating encroachments of age similarly impinge increasingly on my wife’s parents back in rural northern Alabama.
Consequently, we minimally expect four distressing phone calls at random intervals in the coming years, imploring us to get back home quickly. For us this means at least three short-notice round-trip cross-country airline reservations (along with car rentals)—four times. Twelve last-minute seats (my wife, our son, and me), just to pay respects and help tend to the affairs of the parents when the times come. And, our daughter and her son just moved here to Vegas from Florida, so make that perhaps five round-trip seats each time. I just checked online prices: five immediate family last-minute "lowest fare" round-trip seats, Vegas to/from Orlando, and Vegas to/from Huntsville, Alabama, roughly $13,000 retail covering all four parents. So much for all of my DiscoverCard available credit (and part of another card, or a chunk of my savings).
There are tens of millions of Boomers facing similar circumstances.
Airline bereavement fare policies
evident after a bit of research: complicated, confusing, contentious,
carrier-specific. Just what you don't need when you’ve just
Call." For someone living beyond driving distance from loved ones, what
be extremely beneficial at such a time would be the ability to make one
that gets you on the next available flight at advance reservation
rates, complete with rental car and
lodging at the destination as required.
work is getting tepidly into the "stored value card" arena, an
area of retail financial services. During a recent weekend, as I pondered this nascent offering
and our associated hand-wringing over issues such as the chump-change
prospects of someone getting auth'ed to pump a buck too much gas at Quik-Mart, the NextFlightHome idea bubbled up in my mind.
Essentially a stored value product, also not conceptually distant from
"insurance." You know you're going to have
to book these trips. Why not avail yourself of a service that
will get you the lowest price at the least hassle when the time
inevitably comes. Moreover, if your credit rating warrants, you can
even spread the payments conveniently -- making it in effect a
(competitively priced) credit offering should you choose not to store
the value up front.
What is that worth? Air-carrier bereavement rate policies typically require authentication documentation confirming that you are in fact "immediate family" and that a next-of-kin has indeed passed on. NextFlightHome perhaps doesn't even care. It's your account, your money; you can use it as you wish. You can always reload. The built-in activation waiting period precludes using the service as an end-run around regular retail airfare rates, and, should you have opted for and been approved for the revolving credit payment option, your account must be in good standing to book an itinerary. We've even provided for that, with our credit insurance cross-sell ancillary product, and the fact that we provide shamelessly copied positive incentives such as "payment points" and other non-punitive inducements (e.g., sweepstakes entries) for keeping accounts current.
Vetting the concept
NOTE: I recently bought the internet domain name "www.NextFlightHome.com." Haven't site hosted it yet.
Just a cheap investment at this point. I hereby declare "NextFlightHome" [TM] and "NextFlightHome.com" [TM]
to be my common-law trademarks. -- Robert E. Gladd