Of Freddies and Frustration

Of Freddies and Frustration

After several months of house hunting (aka — annual Freddie Awards location scouting), I’m pleased to announce this years Freddie Awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 24 at the Wyndham Colorado Springs.

It’s a thrill to host these awards right here in our own backyard. I’d like to thank Wyndham Hotels and in particular Andrew Jordan, senior vice president of marketing, for his help. When I asked Andrew if he could put in a good word for us he went much further, going so far as to donate a Herman Miller chair (those of you who’ve stayed at a Wyndham know all about these chairs) and a Wyndham Resorts Vacation, and Golden Door Spa amenities package to be awarded as prizes at the event. The vacation will consist of four nights at the Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa or the Wyndham El Conquistador Resort and Golden Door Spa (excluding airfare).

Though I could certainly use a vacation and a nice chair, I suppose fairness dictates I excuse myself from eligibility (but if I ever get my hands on this “fairness” fellow, watch out).

As in years past, the public is warmly welcomed to attend the annual Freddie Awards. Without the votes of the members of these programs, the Freddies would not exist, so feel free to come out and see the festivities unfold live. Also, since the awards are being held here in Colorado Springs, we’ll host an open house on the following Friday. Please stop by the House of Miles for a visit, talk miles and points with us, and tell us how we can be a better magazine.

And I’d like to send a special welcome to a familiar name, AT&T Consumer, which has been kind enough to co-sponsor this year’s Freddies. Many of you use AT&T Consumer to earn miles with your residential long distance service or their AT&T WorldNet Internet service, and as a new partner to such programs as American AAdvantage there’s little doubt the miles are out there waiting for you.

Now for the other “F” word — frustration. I’ve about had it up to here (hand raised to forehead) with most, if not all, of the major frequent traveler programs. On February 28, I wrote an editorial urging all frequent flyer programs to consider waiving award cancellation fees as well as mileage re-deposit fees over the next three months in light of current events. About a week later, the airlines appeared to get the message and began issuing press releases announcing they would ease restrictions on rebooking travel that may become influenced by possible war.

Well, I’ve got to pull a Joe Brancatelli on this one and do some chastising. Though the airlines have eased restrictions, the various requirements and conditions are so confusing they show off nothing more than the apparent distance these airlines have created between themselves and their customers. And what really ticked me off was that, in all the releases I read, not a single one mentioned that these war threat policies included awards from your frequent flyer accounts.

After digging around a little (actually a lot) I found that some, but not all, of these policy easements actually do include the use of your frequent flyer awards. The friendliest was United. They did admit an oversight in not making clear that Mileage Plus awards could be changed or your miles re-deposited free of charge because of travel concerns during this period of potential war. Others don’t have a clue. Frontier, for example, is allowing a 90-day, one-time itinerary change at no cost, but, if you decide to cancel your trip because the guns are blasting, they will charge you a $35 administrative fee to re-deposit your miles. Isn’t that swell.

As a subscriber to this magazine know this, if you are traveling on an award ticket during the next two months and feel the need to change your itinerary to a later date or even cancel the award and re-deposit your miles into your account — send me a copy of the bill that your frequent flyer program charges you to re-deposit or change the award and I will personally reimburse you. I am pro-award use and will do anything I can to help my readers get through this period, even if some of your loyalty programs won’t.

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