Letters – August, 07 2002

Letters – August, 07 2002

Delta Dilemma
I am submitting this letter of complaint against Delta Air Lines for your failure to provide award travel as advertised. This is the fourth consecutive time over the past four years that my request for a Delta SkyMiles award has been denied. On this occasion, I called Delta SkyMiles reservations on April 12 to request three roundtrip tickets from Boston to Lima, Peru. I explained that my departure date was flexible anytime from July 6 through July 12 and returning approximately two weeks later. Once again, I was told that no award seats were available. For certain, this is “high season” for travel to Europe, however, not to Lima. Peru.

Later that day, upset, I called Delta again to speak with a “supervisor,” who could only put me on a “wait list,” which I was not told of previously. As of today, I have not heard from anyone at Delta.

As a customer, I am consistently unable to receive the benefits of the SkyMiles program as widely advertised by Delta. As proof, on April 14, I was able to obtain seats for award travel on American Airlines for the exact dates requested, departing July 6. Likewise, in the past when Delta denied my award requests, I was successful in obtaining award travel on other airlines.

Obviously, the SkyMiles program does not work and has serious flaws. I believe that Delta severely limits the number of SkyMiles seats available. In addition, award seats can be held on reserve for extended periods of time without the award actually being issued, further limiting availability for those who truly will use them. I can only conclude that the business practices of the Delta SkyMiles program are unfair and misleading to the customer. I have recounted my experience with other colleagues, and they, too, have had difficulties claiming Delta award travel.

I have been a member of the Delta SkyMiles program since 1984 — 18 years and have never been able to claim an award. Past complaints to Delta have been answered unsatisfactorily by Delta “Customer Care.” An apology alone is not sufficient. In this case, I ask that Delta credit my account with the 105,000 miles I was unable to claim as an award and that you personally guarantee, in writing, to fulfill my future award requests when submitted with reasonable advance notice. In addition, I ask Delta to review the business practices of its SkyMiles program and submit proof of substantial changes which make the program work for its customers, as it certainly does at other airlines.

Peter N. Cerundolo

Editor’s note: This is a copy of a letter sent to Delta in which we were cc:ed on.

ChAAnge is BAAd
I see all the positive comments about the new AA.com. Am I the only one who hates the new AA.com website? I would gladly go back to the old one if I could.

I find it HARDER to find a flight on the new AA.com — The screen is ALOT more cluttered. Plus, many AA flights that I previously booked on the former AA.com site (and CAN still book on Orbitz and Expedia) CANNOT be booked from the new AA.com site — seems AA.com doesn’t want to offer them, actually sending you to other airlines instead.

When attempting to get Account Mileage information, there are a significant number of extra keystrokes from the homepage. First you click on the My Accounts Tab. But, forget about being able to store your password, as the webpage is generated on the fly and is different to the Internet Web Browser every time. In plain English, Internet Explorer doesn’t know this is the same AA page as it was last time you visited and makes you type in the password every time.

As passwords must be seven characters, count on extra keystrokes at this point, even if you used Non-Standard ASCII (the safest and recommended way) for the passwords in the past. Then Microsoft Explorer will ask you about saving your password (the 5th or so time you will learn that this a joke whether you hit yes or no — it doesn’t matter for the reasons stated above), another waste of a keystroke that must be clicked on.

Finally, you get to the My Account info — wait a minute — where’s your mileage info? You aren’t done yet. You have to click on the Balances tab — another keystroke. It seems the designers of AA.com have decided you want to change your Credit Card info or your email address when you visit the My Account tab — and of course this should be on the opening screen. Who would come to My Account for Account Mileage info?

Give me the old AA.com. Some designer stayed up way too late on this one.

Randy Kabrich

American Express Membership Miles
I received notification on May 11, 2002 that American Express had decreased the value of Membership Miles, effective May 1, 2002. Previously, Membership Miles could be converted 1-to-1 with various domestic carriers. Now it is 2-to-1. Previously, 20,000 Membership Miles could purchase a $299 ticket to Hong Kong. Now it takes 28,000. Previously, 3,000 Membership Miles could purchase a coupon for a $99 companion fare on Continental. Now it takes 7,000.

This radical decrease in the value of points without any advance notice really decreases the value of continued participation in the program.

M Carmanst

Editor’s note: Not to mislead any readers, I think this reader is referring to the Membership Rewards ‘Options’ program whereby members can obtain a fee-free American Express card that has fewer benefits as well as lower mileage exchange rates (such as the one mile per two dollars spent mentioned here). And the award value is less than the paid card program. American Express isn’t alone in offering this type of card. Several other frequent traveler programs offer fee-free cards with fewer benefits.

Taxi-Stand Memories and the Freddies
Many years ago I first subscribed to your magazine, and, with a few pauses for various reasons, I remain one today. I am often “lurking” on FlyerTalk.com and will start posting soon.

Two years ago I happened upon you at the taxi-stand at Grand Central Terminal, and you were kind enough to chat with me for a number of minutes.

This past week (23-28 April) I found myself in New York again due to the conference of the International Air Rail Organization (more on them later), and realized that the Freddies would be held in New York while I was there. I e-mailed your assistant Janet literally at the last minute (at 11:35pm on the day R.S.V.P.’s were due), and still was confirmed. I had a wonderful time and wanted to thank you very much!

For your perusal, I am including the article from this weeks “The Economist.” Perhaps it would be a basis for a future editorial for you in “InsideFlyer.”

Again, my sincere thanks for allowing me to attend the Freddies.

Erik Griswold

Randy’s note: Yes I remember that taxi-stand chat very well since it is always the best part of my day to meet readers. I’m glad you had a wonderful time at the Freddies and I suspect so did quite a few others. The next time, please let me know you are there and we’ll continue with our chat. As for that article from The Economist, I think it brings to mind a new saying — Mile$ Talk!

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