Letters – March, 01 2007

Letters – March, 01 2007

American Airlines Shot In The Foot
I’ve been a reader for many years and greatly appreciate the information available every issue in the magazine. Regarding the American Airlines co-payment, the handwriting has been on the wall for several years at American. Management’s level of indifference to premium passengers continues to reach new highs. In the 90s I flew 100,000 miles per year a number of years and had all the credit cards, long-distance telephone, etc. tied into American. Gradually my business flying abated but my wife and I still rang up 100,000 to 150,000 miles each year together, although we only traveled about 25,000 each on the plane.

Even though I personally had almost 3,000,000 miles and my wife 2,500,000 on American, they began to treat us as just another one-flight-per-year customer. To make the point to them, my wife even flew another carrier on a fully paid first class ticket, even though we could have flown American, then I promptly mailed a copy of the receipt to the executive offices at American to show them the $3,500 revenue they lost through their indifference. You guessed it; they did not care at all!

So, I took InsideFlyer’s advice, started with the Starwood American Express card, cut American credit card usage down to almost zero and now have a dozen carriers that we can upgrade on instead of being at the mercy of American’s foolishness. Now, I can upgrade on Hawaiian to Hawaii, Alaska to Mexico, Delta or United or Continental … and skip American’s co-pay.

They just shot themselves in the foot again. I just wish more people used the Starwood card and gave American a real shock! Keep up the good work!!!
Dennis Gimian

I Heart United (Not)
After reading Hank Greenberg’s letter (Dec. 06) about United’s treatment of his medical need to cancel a flight, I laud you for your generosity, but as for United it reminds me of an incident some years ago when I was flying first class on a JFK-SFO flight.

About a third of the way across the country the flight attendant made an announcement requesting a doctor. When that went unanswered the requests were modified to nurse, dentist, then anyone with medical experience. Still no taker! I asked the head flight attendant what the problem was and he said a woman in the back was suffering from what appeared to be a diabetic attack — too little or too much insulin. He asked me if I was a doctor and I told him I was not but my wife was and as a result I was a very knowledgeable layman. In addition, I was a diabetic myself and knew a lot about that.

He asked me if I would look at the woman and led me to the last row in coach where a stout woman was spread across several seats. I told her about my credentials (or rather lack of them) and asked her a few pertinent questions. I then asked her for permission to test her glucose since I had my equipment with me. She said okay. I stuck her finger and the meter showed her blood glucose was perfect. No diabetic problem. Then some more questions. Her answers led me to think she was in cardiac distress. I suggested that the flight attendants help her sit up and start oxygen. I used the air phone to call a cardiologist friend in New York. After detailing the symptoms he said, “bingo — you got it.” He told me that he could not diagnose it since he hadn’t examined her but he did say it sounded like it was cardiac and told me to suggest that the captain land the plane quickly and get her to a hospital. I passed this on to the captain who came out to see me but said that if I were a physician he would do just that, but since I wasn’t he would have to call his company for instructions. He returned to tell me that United told him to keep going but if she got worse, then land.

I called my friend again and related that to him and he said that if she got worse, it would be too late to land. The pilot apologized and asked me if I would stay with her. I did and fortunately she seemed to recover and after landing in SFO, she thanked me and promised to go to a hospital before going on to Hawaii. The stretcher arrived and they disembarked. The flight crew was most grateful and gracious.

When I got home I called United and told them the story which had already been reported by the crew and asked them if they would give me a first class upgrade as repayment for my flight spent in coach.

They refused as they also did when I asked if they would reimburse me the $50 spent on the telephone calls. Subsequently I got a voucher for $50. No upgrade from the friendly skies.
Morton Herman

Done with Thrifty
I thought readers might like to know:

In June of 2006, I rented a car from Thrifty, Atlanta Airport. When I returned the car, I was told there was a scratch on the bumper and I would have to file a report. I was told there would be no charge, it was just a formality. Seven months later, I received an e-mail demanding $217 to pay for the repairs. When I notified the sender that I had not done any damage to the car, I was threatened with legal action. As I remember it, there was a tiny mark on the bumper — could have been dirt for all I know. If I had seen it when I picked up the car, I probably would not have said anything and considered it normal wear. I asked for proof of damage, copies of repair bills, and photos — but I got nothing — just more nasty e-mails. It’s sad that Thrifty is having financial trouble and needs to “extort” money from its loyal frequent renters — correction, FORMER renters. If you rent from Thrifty, I suggest you take photos of the car and have the agent give you a signed release! Personally, I’m done with them.

Former Thrifty customer.
Dave DiPietro

Piqued at Northwest
I agree with most of the negative comments that I hear about Northwest Airlines and the WorldPerks program. As a business traveler who just relocated to Minneapolis, I cannot tell you the number of delayed and overpriced flights in this market. I earned over one million flight miles on American before moving to Minnesota.

This year, after only living here for five months, I could not qualify for the top status at the end of the year. I sent several letters to NWA asking for higher status, only to be denied. Even though I flew 55 direct segments, not connecting segments, and the previous six months in 2006 in St. Louis I flew 56 segments.

Northwest would not give me the top status due to “policy” reasons. They won’t count my other airline segments. Having lived in St. Louis when TWA was purchased by American, it will be refreshing in 2007 when NWA goes out of business and most of these people lose their jobs as they have no idea how to treat good customers. I only hope American Airlines is the one who buys them. They are a great airline and I will do my best in 2007 to avoid NWA although its hard here in MSP.
Frustrated Mike

Finally, a Success Story
My fiance and I were married in September ’06. We were able to use miles and points to get free flights and hotels, with only one miles inconvenience. We went to Tahiti — her first choice — from 9/12-9/22.

Using American miles and Starwood points, the only cost was out of pocket costs such as food, gifts, tours, etc. It would have cost $7,000-8,000 or more. Flights were $1,800 each. Rooms ranged between $600-700 per night U.S. We were also upgraded for the bulk of our stay to over water bungalows in one resort in Tahiti for eight nights. We also stayed at the D.C. landmark hotel, the Mayflower, on our wedding night for Marriott points. The only inconvenience was American Airlines didn’t offer the free flights on the exact dates we wanted them so we had to start a day later and end a day later. Yes we saved a ton, so we can put that money to having fun when we got there.

I am a frequent biz traveler and have many, many miles and points from various airlines and hotels. Starwood in my opinion is the best program by far because there are no blackout dates or restrictions so if there is a room available, I can have it. Most airlines and other hotel companies make it difficult to use points even if you have a ton of them. So I am now loyal to Starwood which includes W hotels, Westin, Sheraton, St Regis and others. I also use the Starwood American Express as my primary card for work and personal.
Dan Sondhelm

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