Letters – November, 17 2009

Letters – November, 17 2009

Thank You, United

I’ve been flying United since 1981, have half a million miles in and recently had a nine-segment trip back and forth across the country. In the middle of the trip, my elderly mother was admitted to a hospital on an emergency basis. Originally, I was told that the four flights I didn’t take were my tough luck and I was out over $1,200. I wrote a six-page letter with documentation of the hospitalization (I also bought an extra fare to rush from ORD to LAX) to United’s refund center and they agreed to refund most of the fare I “lost.” Thank you United. Is flying like the 70s? No, but United is still the best domestic airline for frequent flyers.
Joshua Marquis

Thank You Delta, Not

I am a Platinum Delta Medallion member–way over what’s required for the Platinum level–and am flying to London in two days. I used an international voucher and had to book through a phone representative rather than the Web site. It was only after it was booked and the ticket paid for that I got to see my itinerary–and that I have 55 minutes to change terminals (2 to 4) in JFK in the early evening to make the London flight. Once I saw that connection, I was horrified because I have been grounded at my starting point because of JFK, delayed hours in JFK and stuck overnight at JFK, or transferred to LaGuardia at my expense, approximately eight times during European trips in 2009.

When I called the Platinum number, some of the reps were nice, others brusque. But the bottom line was ‘the time is legal’ even though one admitted it would be awfully close even if my plane landed on time from Portland, Maine. Three phone calls and an email later, I was told if I wanted to change to an earlier flight from PWM (to make sure I could make my connection since there were no more London flights after mine) they told me I’d have to pay over $1,000 for a change fee. This is absurd that they even consider a terminal connection change as “legal” with 55 minutes for an international flight at JFK–and even worse that they would not change it to an earlier flight for a Platinum member.

I’m sticking with Delta because it goes where I go and I have all the miles, but I am very unhappy right now (and expect to still be on Long Island–or if I’m lucky Paris by default–in three days.
Dr. Larissa J Taylor

P.S. On the good side, I never have trouble booking award travel, probably because I’m very flexible.

Where’s the Bonus?

I am a longtime Diners Club member and have enjoyed the Points-to-Miles bonus with British Airways that initially was one point to two miles and then was changed to 1 point to 1.5 miles. However, since December 2008, BA and Diners have not had this twice-a-year promotion.

I have contacted Diners repeatedly about this issue and I have been told that BA has not announced this promotion in a while. Further, no one knows whether BA will offer it again.

I understand that due to financial constraints that BA/Diners have not run this promotion. Do you have any information on this?
Pat Kalellis

Editors’ Note: Pat, you’re in luck. The promotion is back. See the Award Watch section of this magazine for details.

The State of Delta

The merger of Delta and Northwest has made more SkyClubs available in more airports. I like that Delta and several other airlines have combined to make a club available at Lexington, Ky. More smaller airports should have this for club members.

The Delta “Breezeway” for priority boarding by Medallion members, which I think is new in 2009, is convenient.

The Delta companion fare certificate that comes when you make a $25,000 spend on the Delta American Express card used to be a total nosebleed to use. I haven’t tried to redeem the current one, but it looks like they have made it easier. It would be better if it could be used for open jaw fares.

Most airlines now have their Web site program give you lower fare options if your travel dates are flexible. As a relatively recent retiree I find this quite useful.

My pet peeve can be reduced to two letters: RJ.
I’ve gotten three multi-day hotel (Holiday, Hilton, Hyatt) awards this year. I’m batting 1,000.
Bill McCloskey

Neat, If Only

Well, I’ve got a couple of pet peeves to share with you. One is Hilton’s new change, diluting the value of their HHonors points wasn’t real well-received.

And another is that American Airlines brags that you can select different classes on reward flights, however when trying to get a business class seat to London, they’re never available. This is a neat feature, if it really worked.
G. Cardoza

Miles Grab

My pet peeve is when you just inquire about donating miles at AA.com, they steal the miles from you. You never agree to it; they just grab the miles. No wonder they can give free trips to the needy. Don’t even ask about donating miles. All I did was click through to the Web site page about donating miles. I was curious about it and wasn’t planning on doing so as I take care of donations with my credit card (which gives frequent flyer points). I later learned from my paper statement, that at least 20,000 miles had been deducted. They weren’t offering the points back. Believe me, I haven’t flown American very often since. I only fly American if it is a non-stop and will shorten time considerably vs. flying with another carrier.

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