Letters – September, 22 2009

Letters – September, 22 2009

Credit Card Quest

In my research when choosing cards (and I’ve had quite a few different ones), miles/points cards offer greater benefit value than cash-back rewards. The reason is fairly straightforward–when a card issuer offers cash-back rewards, they have to pay a clear dollar amount back to the consumer–usually at least one percent of purchases. However, when offering miles/points, issuers are able to purchase them from the various programs in bulk at a rate which makes them more competitive–generally offering a greater value for cardholders.

This only holds true, however, if the cardholder travels with sufficient frequency to actually make use of all of the points as opposed to banking them. If the cardholder banks the points, cash-back rewards (if invested properly) would offer a greater financial return.
Bill Crouch

Eye on CO

As an Elite flyer with Continental (since 1992), the numerous changes [including the change from SkyTeam to Star Alliance] are concerning since United’s program [in Star Alliance] is so poor. Further, CO has not been clear on many of the changes that most interest OnePass frequent flyers. Continental finally provided “some” information just last week. The CEO change in January is also of concern to many of us. Mr. Keller has done a good job by many of our standards. The new leader’s background is as a marketing executive in the company, if I recall properly. That always concerns a frequent flyer since those types [of executives] frequently aim to provide less (i.e. United) and/or water things down. I hope your company follows these trends closely.
James H.

Where Are the Miles?

Although hotels are not your normal problem, I feel that this is relevant to your readers. On April 14, 2009, I stayed at the Doubletree Westshore In Tampa. I booked [via the Hilton Web site] to get quadruple miles and payed $15 extra for this offered rate.

After only receiving the regular miles, I started out to get the problem corrected. In May and June, I spoke to four different customer service agents and four or five different supervisors. During the first few calls, I was told the offer had expired but had been reinstated April 7. The last two supervisors I talked to I had to walk through with them as to how to get on the Hilton site and pull up the offer.

They both said that if the offer is on the site, whether expired or active, Hilton’s policy is to honor the offer. After two months of being told the problem would be corrected, I got a reply from Miles Branch. He told me he could not find the offer on the Web site and if I faxed it to him he would make a one-time change.

I faxed him three times and followed up with an email. I let him know that the offer was still on many Hilton properties booking sites. The final statements [from Hilton] were that Hilton cannot be held responsible for any offer on their hotel sites. It is the customer’s problem if they pay for offers and Hilton can’t be held responsible for any offer on any of Hilton’s Web sites!!!! I am a Diamond Elite and since June I have stayed elsewhere 20+ nights; the rest of the year, I will stay another 20+ nights. I have quit recommending Hilton!!
Ed Ploughman

Editors’ Note: Ed, we cover hotel programs as well as frequent flyer programs, so they are indeed, our “normal problem.” Sorry to hear about your experience with Hilton.

Quitting Qantas

Hi. I met Randy on a flight months ago. I am writing to tell you about my horrible experience with Qantas Airlines. I flew with my whole family from New York to Australia and purchased tickets through Qantas customer service directly. I was told that I would receive OnePass miles for my travels on several occasions by representatives. My OnePass number was even on my itinerary. Once I returned from my travels, I was told that I am not eligible for these miles (about 80,000 for my whole family) because I had purchased class O tickets. I had no idea that there were such restrictions and very strongly feel I should have been informed when I booked the tickets. I was told by several agents that I was going to receive my mileage points. I hope you guys can help me resolve this situation. I will never fly Qantas again. Thanks again for your time and cooperation.
Uma Taneja

Editors’ Note: Uma, sorry to hear about your frustrating experience. You do not say which airline representatives mentioned that you would get miles. But in any case, it is correct that O fares will not earn Continental OnePass miles when flying Qantas. Although it would be nice if those who are booking the flights for you were more knowledgeable about which fares will earn miles, ultimately, it’s up to frequent flyer program members to read the fine print of the program in which they wish to earn miles. But there is some good news–you might still be able to claim some miles with a U.S.-based program for your flights. American AAdvantage members can earn 50 percent of the miles flown on Qantas with O fares. Half the miles is better than none at all. We’re hoping you are also a member of American AAdvantage, and were a member before you traveled. American allows members to request mileage credit for past flights up to 12 months from the flight date. To get the miles, you will need to claim the missing credit. Visit the partner pages on AA.com and follow the instructions for the online mileage request form. You’ll need the names as they appear on your family’s individual AAdvantage accounts, ticket receipts, boarding passes and AAdvantage account numbers. AA asks that you allow 30 days for the credit to appear in your account. You’ll also be earning 50 percent of the normal elite qualifying miles for these flights. Good luck, and next time be sure to check your fare class against the list of those that earn miles.

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