Letters – July, 22 2008

Letters – July, 22 2008

Unsympathetic Emirates

I would like to pass some information on to you regarding Emirates — the most bombastic people on this planet. They think they have a monopoly in the airline market but offer substandard quality in comparison to their rivals. My husband and I collected enough miles each for a “free” trip to Dubai. Last year we tried to redeem them and quite honestly it was more hassle than it was worth so we ended up not using them. There were so many barriers in the way that it was impossible to use the miles. My husband unfortunately died last year at 39 and I have since been trying to transfer his miles to my account. Emirates refuses to do this because my husband did not leave a will and therefore I cannot produce a will. I have, however, produced the death certificate stating I am his widow.

I feel saddened that the company has treated me like this under the circumstances. I feel they have been unsympathetic and are using every tool they can not to transfer the miles. They even ignore my emails.

My husband and I spent thousands of pounds traveling business class to accumulate these miles. It is really wrong and I want to highlight what they are doing.
Yvonne Foster

Not Something for Nothing

Frequent flyer programs are not, and never have been, something for “nothing.” The airlines knew exactly what they offered and passengers knew what they would receive. Reaching an elite level can be an expensive proposition, and many of us do it without the benefit of a business to cover our costs. Incentive programs are nothing new, and the implicit contract between frequent flyers and their chosen airlines has always been understood: if you continue to use our services frequently, we will reward you.

So when the value of those rewards is rescinded or diminished by the airline, when they don’t deliver on their part of the bargain (having taken the money), the frequent flyer indeed has a right to view this as a broken deal. We had an understanding, and you didn’t deliver on your side of the bargain.
Rita Isaacs

Editors’ Note: Interesting comments Rita, and they’ll strike home to many road warriors who have tried the best they could to be loyal to an airline over many years only to find out that the loyalty factor is only for the program’s “active” members. The point being that many programs today are looking at the most recent activity to determine your value as a customer, not knowing what share of your wallet they have. We know many a 20,000-mile-a-year flyers that give 100 percent of their travel to one airline and then we know many 150,000-mile-a-year flyers who share their loyalty wallet among several airlines. We understand.

Something for Nothing

I belong primarily to three programs: American AAdvantage for my airline and Marriott and Hilton for my hotel programs. I am pleased and happy to be in all three. I do not have problems earning and redeeming miles/points. Never have since the inception of the programs. I READ THE RULES and act accordingly.

I marvel at all the complainers. They’re getting something for nothing and they still complain. Count me among the contented frequent travelers!
Lewis Bradshaw

Bye-Bye AA

I don’t have to remind your readers about the horrors of delayed flights, cancelled flights, being trapped on the ground for hours, no gates open when your plane finally arrives, missed connections — these have become all too common in the last several years — and Congress doesn’t even bother to do any ritual hand-wringing any more.

I used to enjoy flying and I have been a frequent flyer on AA for 25 years, with a lifetime AAirpass, and EXP status every year for 10 years, and five million AAdvantage miles. But I am now thoroughly turned off by the rudeness, incompetence, lies and couldn’t-care-less attitude of the personnel at AA. The so-called customer service agents are the worst of the bunch.

I have now enjoyed flying on JetBlue and other airlines, and I am no longer going to put myself through the hoops to fly with AA in the future. They have shown over and over again that they don’t deserve my patronage or my money.

Dear Mileage Plus
Letter to a United Mileage Plus executive:

I am a 77 years young retiree and a long-term United frequent flyer dating back to the inception of the program in 1981. When I was working, I usually qualified for various levels of premier status.

Last summer, my 14-year-old grandson and I took our annual adventure vacation, this time to New Zealand and Australia. Because of strict schedule requirements, we chose United’s Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand for our flights, and both e-tickets reflected our Mileage Plus account numbers. Unfortunately, the rigors of our travels resulted in the misplacement of boarding passes for three flight segments. A copy of our e-ticket is enclosed for your reference.

After nine months of trying to resolve getting United mileage for the unposted flights taken on Air New Zealand, I called InsideFlyer and was advised to contact you directly. Rather than immerse you in the pile of documentation accumulated during my quest, Randy suggested I summarize my efforts with a chronology of my efforts in order to facilitate and respect any time you could devote to my situation.

09/07/07 — UA MP agent advised me to wait two more weeks for our missing trips to post.

10/03/07 — ANZ agent advised me to refresh my request to UA MP.
10/04/07 — UA MP agent advised me to resubmit my trip documentation.

10/09/07 — Resubmitted trip documentation to UA MP.

11/05/07 — Form letter from UA MP to me requesting missing boarding passes.

11/05/07 — Form letter from UA MP to my grandson requesting missing boarding pass for our second flight segment. (Note: He got credit for our first flight together.)

11/11/07 — UA MP agent advised me to write a letter explaining the challenges of a 77- and 14-year-old traveling together and misplacing the three requested boarding passes; also allow another 60 days for posting.

11/11/07 — I wrote to MP explaining how our hectic travel schedule contributed to the loss of the three requested boarding passes.

01/28/08 — UA MP informed me that our missing segment miles were not approved, but an appeal could be filed.

01/28/08 — I wrote appeal letter to UA MP.

02/12/08 — Received letter from UA MP referring my appeal to customer relations team, and stating, “We have no excuse for failing to update your account.”

03/17/08 — I wrote to that UA MP representative thanking her for her efforts but informing her that no response was received after over a month.

03/24/08 — Same representative’s response: Apologized for the MP department not responding, and she committed to escalate my case to MP management “who will take action on your concerns shortly.”

All of my phone calls and letters to United have been courteous and professional. I can certainly understand how things can get complicated by strict adherence to program rules, and I also know that exceptions can be authorized when justified by unique circumstances. Almost all of my contacts with United were encouraging based on their appreciation of the complexities involved with intergenerational traveling companions.

I would like to believe that you will positively reaffirm my faith in United’s Mileage Plus program by authorizing miles for the following missing segments.

[List of names, MP account numbers and flights, along with amount of miles]
Harry C.

Editors’ Note: Harry got his miles with the help of the Mileage Plus program executive. A little (or a lot) of courteous stick-to-it-ness goes a long way. Congrats, Harry, on handling it so well and here’s to many more successful adventures with your grandson.

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