Letters – November, 25 2003

Letters – November, 25 2003

Words of Wisdom
Thanks for publishing my letter to the editor (Oct. 2003). By so doing, you demonstrate your intelligence and wisdom.

Now, if we can just get you to broaden your coverage a bit to tell us about the service, economy, and convenience of various airlines (or the lack thereof) you will have just about a perfect magazine. Remember, we need this info to make our travel purchase decisions — not just info about frequent flyer programs.
Mark Terry

Editor’s Note: Thanks, Mark — by subscribing, you too have demonstrated great intelligence and wisdom.

You raise a good point about our coverage — let me simply say that for 17 years, our pinpoint focus on miles and points has served our readers well. However, we are only as good as our readers think we are, so we’re always open to suggestions. In fact, Inside Flyer will conduct a reader poll in the coming months to better determine what you — our valued subscribers — would like to see more or less of.

The Mileage Pit
I managed to charge quite a bit to my American Express Delta SkyMiles card during the May 15 to July 15 double mile promotion, and have been anxious to see those miles added to my Delta SkyMiles account.

Surely they would be posted by September 15, I thought, so I called AMEX Customer Service and was politely told that they would be posted by October 1.

No they weren’t, so when I called in early October I was told, politely again, that they would be posted by October 15.

Again, no, they weren’t, so today, October 16, I emailed them a message similar to this one as no bonus miles were yet posted. No answer yet, but I told them that dropping the card might be the only way to get their attetion so I asked them to NOT charge me the $85 renewal fee that would come in December as I would stop using the card then.

Thanks for your recent mention on the troubles you have also had on getting promotion miles posted.
Earl Johnson

Like Trying to Get Compensation from a Turnip
I booked an award reservation for a friend and myself on United from Philadelphia to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I booked the reservation on 4/10/01 for travel on 8/21/01 through 8/28/01. The actual tickets were issued on 5/2/01. I had called UA several times prior to departure to possibly change the date of departure, but there was no availability. I was assured every time that my original reservation was confirmed.

When we arrived at PHL on 8/21, the ticket agent checked our bags to PVR. We were to go from PHL to Denver on UA and then transfer to Mexicana for the flight from DEN to PVR. The agent gave us our boarding passes for the UA portion of the flight and said that he was unable to issue the passes for the DEN-PVR portion. Since we had a four-hour layover in DEN, I was not concerned. We had packed for a diverse vacation with casual clothes for daytime activities and more dressy clothes for the evening.

About 2 hours into our layover in DEN we went over to the MX gate to get our boarding passes and there was no one there. We called UA 1K reservations and were shocked to find out that MX did not operate on Tuesdays from DEN. We headed back to the UA 1K lounge at DEN, and were assisted by a woman by the name of Maureen. She too was quite surprised to find out that we were in the situation we were in. She did the best she could and booked us on UA from DEN to Houston and Continental from IAH to PVR. We were assured by UA that our bags would be located and re-routed to our new flights.

When we finally landed in PVR, our bags were nowhere to be found, so we filled out a form with CO and the search began. I immediately called UA baggage services in the USA and explained my problem to them. They had no idea where my bags were at that time. I explained to them that if our bags were not located by the next morning, that we were going to go shopping to get clothing. All we had was the clothing on our back. We had no toiletries or any thing else.

The next morning we called CO and UA baggage services, and neither knew where our baggage was. We went to the local department store and spent $1,332.31. We purchased many of the same items that were in our bags. I submitted a bill to CO for reimbursement and they only paid $500.00. There is no way I can blame any of this on CO. They have been great to deal with, and this is in no way their fault. The reason they cited for not paying more is that they were afraid that with UA’s shaky financial condition, they would not get reimbursed. They suggested that I submit the remaining balance to UA. I contacted Gary Nordstrom at UA and asked him for the balance in travel credits. I thought it would be easier for UA to settle with travel credits than real money. They refused to pay any additional money. Mr. Nordstrom admitted that UA screwed up and still refused to change his mind.

This is not the first time I had misrouted baggage by UA. I had had 28 (occurrences) in 2000 and 13 in 2001. Thank goodness my bags have always been located. Sometimes it would be a week or more. Better late than never. I have over 2 million miles in my UA account at this time. I don’t cause these baggage problems but suffer as a result of them. I have only asked UA for reimbursement approximately four or five times, and only once for actual cash.

A loyal customer can only take so much before they switch carriers. I tried to sue United in small claims court, but since UA is in bankruptcy, I can’t. I thought that asking for travel credits instead of cash was fair. Maybe one day United’s upper management will open their eyes to what is going on under their noses. Hope it won’t be too late.
Michael H. Sommer

More Unsolicited Advice for Delta SkyMiles
The following letter was submitted to Patrice Miles at Delta in a final attempt to get them to reevaluate the changes to the Medallion program or end up losing my business and that of other Medallion members.

Dear Ms. Miles:
I’ve been waiting patiently for Delta to amend the changes announced to the Medallion program at the end of last year. Finally, last week, I heard from you. Who do you think you’re fooling? The announced changes are nothing more than a futile attempt to make Medallion members believe the upgrade policy is more liberal. In case you’ve lost touch with Delta’s fare structure lately, Delta consistently offers First Class A fares that are lower than M, B, or Y fares. In fact, when these A fares are sold out and one has to pay more to fly in Coach with a M, B, or Y fare, First Class is usually shown as waitlisted. The announced changes to the upgrade policy are useless.

Now that October is upon us, does Delta still believe there will be the same number of Medallion members next year as this year, with slightly more people moving up in status? From what I’ve seen and heard, most Medallion members will either move down in status or lose it completely. This cannot be in Delta’s best interest, especially with the airline industry in the state it is today. Alienating your most frequent customers will come back and haunt Delta as competition grows.

It is not too late for Delta to admit the mistakes it made to the changes in the Medallion program, but time is definitely running out. As a current Platinum Medallion member, there are two benefits that need to be updated: the Medallion qualification method and the upgrade policy. Favorably changing these will enable Delta to retain frequent customers it has not lost or will lose once the new benefits take place next year.

Medallion level qualification must include some form of segments for those members who travel short distances. The current method is just too restrictive. In fact, if I had flown every segment I plan to fly this year in Y class, I still would not have qualified for Platinum status even though I would have paid nearly three to four times as much as last year. This is not right. Delta needs to bring back segments as a means for qualification. In keeping with the current method, Delta could offer the same formula for segments. This would be 2 segments for First or Business Elite, 1.5 segments for Coach, 1 segment for Discounted Coach and .5 segments for Deeply Discounted Coach.

The second benefit that needs to be amended is the number of segment upgrades given to Platinum Medallion members. The change to four segment upgrades for every 10,000 miles from unlimited upgrades is unacceptable.

Offering unlimited upgrades on Y, B, or M fares does not make up for this change. Nor does the Platinum Medallion Upgrades, which basically remains the same as in past years. Other airlines offer unlimited upgrades to their top-level members, and Delta needs to continue to do the same. Platinum Medallion members should have the ability to upgrade according to the rules of the fare purchased without having to monitor their allotment of upgrades. Even Gold Medallion members should be offered more upgrades than Silver.

Delta will be able to retain my business along with that of other loyal Medallion members if the two mentioned benefits are implemented. Otherwise, our business will go to your competition. There is a choice in airlines today, and Delta needs to realize this and offer benefits to its most frequent travelers who are the backbone of their business. Otherwise, DELTA will surely stand for Driving Every Loyal Traveler Away!
Jay Zollicoffer

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