Letters – May, 18 2009

Letters – May, 18 2009

Worth the Phone Call

Thank you for your suggestion (May 2009 issue) to call United Mileage Plus to request double EQM credit for flights booked prior to March 19, 2009. To make a long story short, it worked!

I politely explained that I book trips well in advance, doing so in “bunches,” and happened to do so shortly before the promotion was announced, and would ask that consideration be extended.

The United rep was very pleasant, and arranged for those pre-March 19, 2009 bookings to be credited as double EQMs. She indicated that all such credits would be issued around August, for the benefit of your other readers.

Perhaps the same action will help with other airline double EQM promotions.
An excellent tip! Thanks much!
Richard Luros, MD

Mono No Go

I recently flew on Northwest Airlines to Orlando, Florida. I paid for six tickets for members of the family and one friend of my daughter’s. That friend developed mononucleosis and was hospitalized and unable to fly. The airline charged for the cancelled ticket, which was $150, which I understand, but the airline insisted on keeping the ticket in my daughter’s friend’s name rather than allowing me to have the possible credit. I contacted Northwest but was unable to get them to alter their policy. Do you have any other suggestions, since it is unlikely that this young lady would utilize this possible ticket in the future?
David W Zauel

Editors’ Note: : David, we don’t like being the bearer of bad news, but the policy is clear: Tickets are not transferable to any other party and must be used by the passenger whose name appears on the original ticket. This includes any changes to the ticket..

Have a Heart, American

Dear Mr. Petersen:

I have been a member of your fine organization for many years, and was hoping that you could help me with a problem I am having with American Airlines. The enclosed correspondence is self-explanatory and the responses I have received from AA are in my opinion bureaucratic and not understanding of a medical emergency. [See correspondence below.]

Perhaps interjection on your part can help resolve an unfair situation. Thank you very much for your consideration of this request.
Martin G. Mand

Mr. Gerard J. Arpey, Chairman, President and CEO:

I am writing to you since none of the employees I have spoken with believe that American Airlines has a policy, or the ability to make an exception to current policy, to redeposit frequent flyer miles without a fee when confirmed reservations need to be cancelled due to a medical emergency.

Let me explain. On Aug. 24, 2008, I made reservations using frequent flyer miles for my wife and I to travel to San Juan from Philadelphia for the wedding of the daughter of two dear friends (both of whom are deceased).

Unfortunately, because I developed a heart problem, I had to have a pacemaker implanted on very short notice on Oct. 21, 2008. This medical procedure prohibited me from traveling to San Juan and thus my wife and I did not attend the wedding.

When I called on October 24 to cancel the reservations, I was informed that there would be a $300 fee ($150 each) to redeposit the ticket miles in our frequent flyer accounts and there were no exceptions for medical emergencies. (Oddly, I was also told that had the two tickets been charged to my account alone, the fee would have been $150–not $300.00.)

The alternative, which I chose for the time being, was to not redeposit the miles (and thus no fee) and use the tickets to go only to San Juan before Aug. 24, 2009. We do not have any plans to go to San Juan in the future as we were going for a wedding only.

In view of these circumstantiates, I request that the ticket miles be redeposited in our frequent flyer accounts without fees. Hopefully, you or another member of management has the authority to do this.

Dear Mr. Mand:

Thank you for contacting American Airlines Customer Relations. I am pleased to respond to your letter.

We understand your dissatisfaction with the increase in the base fee of $150 for mileage reinstatement for your AAdvantage award ticket. While nobody enjoys paying such fees, they are standard in the industry, and ours are competitive. Permit me to explain.

Members who wish to make confirmed routing changes to the origin or destination of their MileSAAver Economy class award tickets are charged a $150 fee. We believe it is sensible to align the reinstatement fee with this reticketing fee, since the two actions are almost interchangeable. In other words, instead of changing an award ticket, a member could reinstate it and claim another award for the new itinerary. In either case, the fee charged should be the same.

Please note, however, that we continue the practice of charging a lower amount ($25) for each additional award reinstated to the same account at the same time. Most of our major competitors charge the base fee per ticket, rather than charging a lower rate for multiple reinstatements, as we do.

Mr. Mand, thank you for contacting American Airlines.
Mark Hicks, Customer Relations, American Airlines

Mr. Gerard J. Arpey, Chairman, President and CEO:

Enclosed is a copy of the email I received from Mr. Mark Hicks of your Customer Relations Department in response to my letter to you.

As you will note, there is no way for me to response to Mr. Hicks directly as the email was an “outgoing only” email and he did not provide a phone number.

More importantly, he totally missed the point (or chose to ignore) of my request to you. I requested that an exception be made to your policy due to the medical emergency I had (i.e., having to have a pacemaker implanted on short notice) which required me to cancel my wife’s and my trip to San Juan (for a wedding), and redeposit our AA mileage miles to our accounts without fee.

Mr. Hicks simply repeated your policy to me and told me how competitive it was with other airlines. As you well know, all organizations have rules and policies and exceptions are made for valid reasons or purposes. I ask you again to use your authority to grant my request for an exception to your policy.

Thank you very much for considerations of the request.
P.S. If you require validation of my medical emergency, I would be happy to provide a letter from my doctor.

Dear Mr. Mand:

We received your letter addressed to Mr. Arpey and were eager to send you a reply as quickly as possible. Accordingly, I noticed the email address included in your letter and I have taken the liberty of responding to you electronically.

Mr. Mand, I know my response will disappoint you. Nevertheless, we do have very specific policies and procedures concerning reinstatement of your AAdvantage Miles, and we are unwilling to make an exception in your case. We hope in time you will understand our position and again choose American for your travel.

I hope you don’t mind that I’ve sent my response via email. Please continue to send us your comments through any communication channel that is most convenient for you. However, we’ll get to your feedback faster and respond more quickly if you contact us again via AA.com.
Mark Hicks, Customer Relations, American Airlines

Editors’ Note: Martin, we forwarded your information to our contact at American AAdvantage and someone there is currently looking into your situation. We’ll get in touch when we find out more.

Where are the Miles?

I rented a SUV at Budget Rental Car in Las Vegas, Nev. on Nov. 11, 2008 through the Delta.com website that offered 7,500 Delta frequent flyer miles. I booked the reservation on their site as requested and entered my Delta membership number and coupon code MUAZ019 that identifies the Budget promotion. I called Budget customer service on Jan. 8, 2009, and was told by the rep that the airlines have 90 days to credit my account.

In the meantime, I called the Budget Rental Car office in Las Vegas and was assured by a staff member there that codes the info to forward to their corporate headquarters that she had twice forwarded my Contract number and coupon code. On Feb. 25, 2009, I called corporate Budget customer service about my missing credit and the rep was basically no help at all in resolving this issue.

I specifically rented this SUV for the day because 7,500 miles is a great promotion. I feel I have met all the requirements of this promotion and sure would appreciate any assistance obtaining these missing miles. Thanks.
Jay A Soncrant

Editors’ Note: Jay, by now, you should have heard from Delta regarding this promotion. We received the following message from a contact at Delta: “We’ve investigated this inquiry on the Delta side and it looks like Budget only sent through the request for base miles, not the 7,500 bonus miles. I have contacted Budget and they have confirmed that there was an issue on their end but will process the request to post the bonus miles today. I’d still allow a few weeks for the miles to post. I will reach out to the customer to advise him of the status, as well.” We’d like to thank Delta for looking into this.

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