Letters – August, 20 2002

Letters – August, 20 2002

Credit Card Limiting
I have two platinum cards, the American AAdvantage MasterCard and the United Mileage Plus Visa. I purposely increased my credit lines to maximize my mileage, and, of course, neither company objected. However, when I recently paid a $17,500 tuition bill with my Visa, I found that there was a monthly limit of 10,000 milesand an annual limit of 100,000 miles. Thus, I ended up losing 14,615 miles.

Unfortunately, none of these limits are made clear to the consumer, and when I contacted Visa I received no sympathy. I found out about this on my credit card statement, which was after the fact.

Perhaps you might want to let your readers know of this point, and steer them away from United and Visa. You recently gave the program a 8.5 rating; from my viewpoint a downgrade is in order.
-Kenneth Stevens

Frequent Flyer Contributes
I have flown almost weekly since Sept. 11, and am determined to support the airlines and maintain my regular business travel schedule. However, I have experienced an alarming and enormous range of security experiences in a variety of airports.

It occurred to me: why not solicit the help of the most frequent-of-frequent flyers to report specific security concerns to the FAA? After all, we are the flyers most concerned with security issues and who are devoted to supporting the airlines.

I’m a 1K flyer on United, and fly thousands of miles on other airlines as well. I have discussed this idea with other frequent flyer members, and we’ve all experienced the same range of security and would appreciate being able to contact the FAA if necessary. We are all business travelers who are well aware of how seriously all airports should be implementing the new FAA guidelines.

One flight attendant I asked thought it an excellent idea, and she offered the additional advice: if you experience what seems to be lax security or otherwise, immediately report this to the gate agent who’ll contact the appropriate authority at the airport. She suggested the immediacy of this action would be most helpful, and I agree. However, when I did this recently in the Sacramento Airport (for example) they immediately became defensive and refused to consider my request a valid one.

Is there a way we could contact the FAA to file a specific report, if needed?
-Linda Barney Ridgway

Editor’s note: Linda, you could try the Department of Transportation: http://www.dot.gov/customersatisfaction/main.html.

Delta Dilemma
There has been much made in the press recently about the need for the airlines to actively encourage people to travel by air again, following Sept. 11. I am a loyal and frequent Delta customer who travels from Denver to the United Kingdom once each month. I have three suggestions which you may wish to consider which I believe would help significantly.

Reduce the minimum international fare eligible for upgrading. This currently runs at $300 to $400 above the restricted coach fare. Reducing this to something approaching the restricted coach fare – even for a two to three month period – would greatly motivate people like me to resume our previous flying patterns.

Waive the seven-day advance requirements on ticketing for a temporary period. This is a real barrier to travel as it introduces inflexibility for the customer.

Streamline the upgrade process for international trips. Right now if I want to purchase a Denver-London/Gatwick-Denver roundtrip coach ticket and upgrade it to BusinessElite, it entails the following process: Call reservations and ticket the trip in coach using the fare eligible for upgrading, which is currently $300 plus above the unrestricted coach fare. They cannot guarantee the BusinessElite upgrade, so they pass the task on to another department who process the upgrades. They tell me that this can take 24 to 48 hours.

In the meantime, the upgrades cannot be held until the second part of the process is complete. This means there is a risk that I could pay $300 plus more than is necessary and still go coach. Hardly an attractive solution.

The only solution to this is for me to drive to the Denver airport and complete the upgrade transaction there. From where I live, this involves a 90-minute roundtrip drive plus up to an hour waiting in the ticket counter line at Denver.

I am told that all this is necessary as your reservations staff cannot access my frequent flyer record to process the upgrade. This is particularly frustrating as I can complete the entire ticket and upgrade process with United or British Airways with one phone call.

Incidentally, I did contact your office last week and a gentleman called Mr. Paul returned my call saying that he is part of your Executive Office. I explained the above problem to him. His response was to tell me that “that’s the system” and that he was sorry I felt frustrated and disappointed that Delta could not speed up the process. In other words, “that’s our system and you can take it or leave it.” I assume that — especially now — this is not the signal you want to be sending to your Platinum members.

Worse, Mr. Paul looked at my reservation (since cancelled) and noted that the reservation person had held the reservation for four days in order to be helpful. He then told me that “this time he would not cancel the reservation” but that he would be speaking with the reservation person involved.

The inference was that the reservation agent would be somehow told off for trying to be helpful. I don’t think I need to tell you what a negative impression that made and I hope it’s not representative of the Delta service culture today.

Mr. Mullin, I am sure you have much to occupy you these days. However, I would ask that you seriously consider taking the above steps in the short term. As things stand, Delta is not making it easy for your loyal and frequent customers to remain that way.
-Terence R. D. Rollo

Editor’s note: This letter was sent to Leo Mullin, Chief Executive Officer of Delta Airlines.

Letters To The Editor
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House of Miles
1930 Frequent Flyer Point
Colorado Springs, CO 80915.

Fax: 719/597 – 6855.

Email: letters@insideflyer.com

Please include your address and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for space and clarity.

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