Letters – November, 28 2005

Letters – November, 28 2005

Job Well Done
I have just completed “free” ticket arrangements from El Paso, Texas, to Johannesburg, South Africa. I talked to both American and Delta to arrange business or first-class seats for next April. While I was not able to get the most convenient flights (Delta to Atlanta, South African Airways direct to Johannesburg), both American (in first class) and Delta (in business class) were able to accommodate me.

In both cases, the frequent flyer reps were excellent, courteous and helpful, going out of their way to check out different possibilities and spending nearly an hour working out the most efficient routing.

I am ultimately going with the Delta ticket in business class, as it will save me 80,000 miles and about half a day travel. But I have only the greatest appreciation for staff with both programs and wish to commend them accordingly.
Carol Baker

Earn New Miles, Keep the Old…
Delta’s recent email merging their Frequent Flyer program into the SkyMiles program is another example of why this once outstanding airline is totally alienating their most loyal members.

I have over 1 million original Frequent Flyer miles that have been almost impossible to use. Seats were never available, especially first class, although SkyMiles seats were available but at the higher mileage amount. Last year I was able to book two first-class seats from Norfolk, Va., to Los Angeles. I specifically gave the code for the Frequent Flyer award and the agent confirmed both the award and the miles; 25,000 for each award. After completing the trip I checked my account and found 40,000 miles were deducted for each award ticket from my SkyMiles account. When I called Delta to correct, I was told it was impossible to correct after the flights were taken. So much for thinking that I was able to at least use one award over the past 10 years.

What bothers me most is that Delta is breaking their promise and commitment to maintain the Frequent Flyer program as long as they had a mileage program. I am aware that they need to make every effort to reduce expenses; however, this program will not save any immediate money. Awarding a seat in either program loses the same potential revenue for a sold seat. I guess the thinking is over a long period of time, 10 years or so, more seats could be redeemed under the grandfathered program.

Since Delta originally agreed to grandfather the Frequent Flyer program, they in effect have breached their contract with Frequent Flyer account holders. Although I certainly want to see Delta survive and become profitable, I am troubled about the total lack of concern for their most frequent flyers. Why not a class-action law suit similar to one successfully filed against American a number of years ago when they had to grandfather old miles? Any lawyers out there willing to take this on?
Alexander Morze

Fair Basis
Hi Randy. First of all thanks for all the fine work you have done to keep us informed about the airline industry’s marketing!

I guess I got caught with a lack of information that cost me a lot of miles.

In September I needed to go to Brussels for a few days. I looked around and decided that a trip booked on Expedia.com would be the best way to save money on the air/hotel.

I wanted to fly on AA, since I am Elite with them and they usually give me a warm feeling. So I booked my AA flights on Expedia.com, including a stay at a hotel for my trip. Seven weeks have passed now and I did not receive my AAdvantage miles, so I called AA Customer Service and found out that an obscure asterisk on a three-click-deep page on AA.com states that tickets booked in Q class for transcontinental flights do not get frequent flyer miles! First of all, I was unaware of this; secondly, I do not see the class until the boarding pass is issued. When I asked about why I had not been notified of this, no one seemed to know. I surely do not remember reading this class structure before. They decided to “give” me 2,500 miles as a customer service adjustment. The trip is about 10,000 and there was a promotion in place at that time for, I think 5,000 additional for that routing.

When I called Expedia.com and asked them about this, they said that they would be able to let me know the class if I could book with the phone, not the Web.

I just wanted to save other folks the unforeseen loss I suffered by my ignorance.

Thanks again for your great work — keep us informed.
Harry Bloom

Editor’s Note: I think you are referring to “transatlantic” flights. Yes, this has always been one of my very sore subjects regarding the AAdvantage program. They have so much going for them — well above average service for award redemption, great credit card benefits and a fairly good global alliance. Their Achilles heel is the alliance relationship with British Airways. The Q fare restriction is part of that, as is earning and redeeming miles transatlantic on British Airways, and then there’s their caveat for charging a money deposit to redeem international business/first-class awards from discounted fares. I suppose at the end of the day, they feel these things balance themselves out. For the most part they do, since most members are on AA metal in the domestic market. I am very sad to hear of your loss of miles. I could tease you about letting your subscription lag, but at the hands of AAdvantage, you have suffered enough. Look through this month’s issue and let us help you figure out how to make up those lost miles.

Historical Reference
Today, October 7th, I attempted to book a SkySaver reward from Bozeman, Mt., to Denver anytime during the first 3 weeks of December. From November 30th though December 20th, there is not a single SkySaver award available. Of course, there are plenty of 50K SkyChoice awards available. Could it be that Delta is using this approach to reduce a run on standard awards, or are they hopeing travelers will buy tickets instead of using miles? What is truely fasinating: last year during the same period there were SkySaver awards nearly every day of early December. Go figure.
Jack Riesselman

A Silver Lining?
Delta won’t SELL the seats as business-class, but they will probably be available for upgrades and award travel. Which is a mixed blessing, I guess. At least all 34 seats will be available on every flight…

Internal Delta Bulletin: Delta will begin using up to five Boeing 767-400 aircraft currently used on domestic routes for international flying as part of Delta’s international growth strategy for 2006. These aircraft will have the current domestic configuration — 34 First-Class seats and 243 Economy seats. BusinessElite modifications will begin within four to six months after introducing the aircraft in select international markets.

The following markets using 767-400 aircraft will be loaded on 18Oct05 for travel beginning in May 2006:
DL 154/155 JFK-MAN
DL 156/157 ATL-SNN
DL10/9 ATL-LGW exception — for travel on/after 27Mar06
Note — Until these aircraft are converted into Delta’s international configuration which includes the award-winning BusinessElite service, they will be sold as all Economy Class with Economy Class amenities.

Editor’s Note: I’m not sure who to attribute this information to, but in the past we have seen aircraft reconfigurations before, which, if one is in the know can lead to additional benefits and advantages. I think I would have to agree with the author of this letter in that it will lead to opportunities for certain members to enjoy additional upgrades and award availability. Our reders may want to cut this out and remind themselves to self-select some of these options.

And to the masked rider — thanks.

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