Letters – August, 31 2007

Letters – August, 31 2007

Paper Ticket Nightmare
I have been a long time subscriber to InsideFlyer magazine (since 1989?, I even had Award Guard as part of my subscription then). I have been a faithful reader and have enjoyed all the sections, news and tips for frequent travelers over the years. Although I am Platinum on one airline and hold top-tier elite status in three hotel programs and have had my share of unusual stories, I have never written to your magazine.

This is my first time writing to InsideFlyer. I have two letters that you may want to consider for publication in a future issue. One letter details a significant problem I had recently with a paper award ticket issued by US Airways for use on a partner, Singapore Airlines. The second letter is an appreciation letter that I sent to Singapore Airlines for superior customer service.
Dr. Ronald Reed

Editor’s Note: Please see the aforementioned letters below, we have edited for space and removed personal account information.

First letter, to US Airways:

Re: Request for $ 2,635.00 Reimbursement for Full-fare ticket on US Airways Partner, Singapore Airlines

Dear US Airways Airlines Representative:

On May 22, 2007, I booked a business class reward circle trip via telephone, via US Airways for use on its partner, Singapore Airlines. It required 90,000 US Airways frequent flyer miles from my account, plus $68.47 in taxes, charged to my Diners/MasterCard, and an additional $10 phone fee, also charged to the same credit card. I requested an electronic ticket, but the US Airways agent said it had to be a paper ticket since it was on a partner airline (Singapore Airlines). The agent stated it would take several days “to process” and send to my home address.

That paper ticket never arrived at my home address. I called about the lost paper ticket starting around June 12th, approximately three weeks after the reward ticket was presumably issued. Over the next few weeks, I placed numerous follow-up calls to your service center, expressing my concern that I had not yet received the paper ticket. I was repeatedly informed that US Airways policy regarding a lost paper ticket was to wait until 24 hours prior to departure — then, if the ticket had not arrived in the mail, it would be reissued at the airport (no more than 24 hours prior to departure). Since I was assured that my lost paper ticket would be re-issued or “reprinted” at the Singapore Airlines ticket counter in Manila prior to my departure on June 30th, I decided to wait until then.

I arrived at the Singapore Airlines ticket counter in Manila, Philippines, three hours prior to my scheduled departure at 6pm, to allow enough time for my reward ticket to be re-issued, as I had been repeatedly told.

However, to my complete surprise, the Singapore Airlines ticket agent told me they had no record of the ticket or any record of any communication from US Airways to them concerning this issue. I was sent to the Singapore Airlines Service Desk area to help resolve the problem, where upon I promptly called the US Airways Service Center (800 number) in the USA. I was told I would have to call later when the US Airways ticket center was open. This was indeed troubling, since that meant waiting until 5pm Manila time (5am Eastern time in the USA), which was merely one hour before my scheduled departure time of 6pm out of Manila. When I called US Airways promptly at 5am EST (5pm Manila time), I explained the story yet again, where upon the next agent taking my call indicated that a lost paper ticket could not be re-issued, and that there was nothing more that US Airways could do!!

Standing at the Singapore Airlines Customer Service Desk in Manila and having no recourse, I was forced to buy a full-fare economy ticket just prior to my departure, at a cost of $2,635.00 US Dollars. Prior to the last scheduled flight segment from Singapore to Manila on July 14th, I attempted to have the lost paper reward ticket reissued/applied towards the new Singapore Airlines ticket that I had purchased on June 30th, but to no avail. One final attempt was made in Manila on July 14th after I completed my itinerary on Singapore Airlines, but again, US Airways agent had returned the phone calls from Singapore Airlines.

The purpose of this letter is to request a refund from US Airways for the full $2,635.

US Airways has definitely erred in the handling of my case. Had I originally been told in early June 2007 that the lost paper reward ticket could not be re-issued, I would have promptly cancelled it, had my miles credited to my account and my credit card refunded for the taxes that I had paid for the reward ticket. More importantly, I would have certainly made advance arrangements for the flight itinerary. Indeed, I would have paid for an electronic ticket on Singapore Airlines, online and in advance, at a lower cost. Again, US Airways policy or procedure for issuing reward tickets on partner airlines is seriously flawed and needs to be radically changed.

In the time between taking my flights and writing this letter, I acknowledge that US Airways re-deposited my award miles and credited my Diners/MasterCard account for the taxes/fees paid. However, this is not correct and does not address the issue. On numerous occasions, US Airways agents did not give me accurate information regarding my lost paper reward ticket, indicating that all I had to do was appear at the ticket counter of Singapore Airlines in Manila and the ticket would be reissued. Ultimately, that misinformation forced me to purchase a full-fare economy class ticket. At no time was it suggested that I should cancel my reward ticket and make other arrangements.

Your prompt response and attention to this matter is appreciated.

Second Letter, to Singapore Airlines:

Re: Thank you to Gia Enriquez & Frances Rotor-Reyes for your superior customer support !

Dear Mr. Tan:

The purpose of this letter is to tell you how fortunate you are to have such superior Customer Service agents at Singapore Airlines/Manila office, namely, Officer Gia Enriquez, and her supervisor, Frances Rotor-Reyes.

In May 2007, I had booked a business class reward circle trip, via US Airways for use on Singapore Airlines, starting in Manila on June 30, 2007. The reward paper (non-electronic) ticket was presumably sent to my residence but never received. It was considered lost, but US Airways agents assured me that all I had to do was come to the Singapore Airlines counter in Manila within 24 hours of the scheduled departure and the ticket would be “re-issued or reprinted.” Unfortunately, when I arrived at the Singapore Airlines ticket counter in Manila, I learned that was not the case. Gia and Frances offered to help by calling US Airways in the USA to determine how the situation could be solved. Ultimately, my ticket was not re-issued by US Airways and I had to rush to purchase a ticket on Singapore Airlines at the last minute before my scheduled departure. Gia and Frances also facilitated the rush ticketing process.

Gia and Frances certainly exemplify the qualities of ideal customer service agents — they were patient, genuinely kind and thoroughly professional. Once I realized I had to purchase a ticket on Singapore Airlines rather than use my US Airways “reward ticket,” they processed my ticket expeditiously, helped me through the customs gate area, and Gia even escorted me directly to the plane to ensure that I would not miss it. All this and I am not even a member of Singapore Airlines frequent flyer program! Amazing!!

I suspect that the great devotion to customers shown by Gia and Frances is likely an indication of Singapore Airlines commitment to excellent customer care. I look forward to my next chance to fly with Singapore Airlines — you absolutely have my vote in the next — Freddie Award competition.

No Point (Stretcher) to This
Please consider how Hilton treats its Diamond members through this e-mail exchange:

I would like a list of Point Stretcher Hotel offerings for the rest of 2007. You all do not make it easy to find on your Web site. Please e-mail those to me.
Jim Kennedy
Diamond Member

Dear Mr. Kennedy,
Thank you for contacting Diamond Special Services. We do no have a list of the Point Stretchers. You will have to put in the dates and the hotel to find if there is any available when you are on the Web.
Best Regards,

Then how do I know which hotel in a certain market is a PointStretcher without spending eight hours?
Jim Kennedy
Diamond Member
Dear Mr. Kennedy,

You would have to go to the hotel that you want to stay at and see if there are PointStretchers available.
Best Regards, Deb

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