Spend Your Way to the Top
It is sad to see some of Hilton HHonors’ recent changes. The worst is that people will earn the top status by running only $40,000 through a Hilton branded AMEX card. Some of those people did it buying coins at face value from the U.S. Mint, and then depositing them back into bank accounts. Meanwhile, people like me who stayed 120 nights in 2008 and only 38 in 2009, will drop in status.
Fortunately, I try to burn my points as I earn them. After a nearly 500,000 point burn in Hawaii later this month, I will end the year with just 300,000 Hilton points.
Dejected but Optimistic
I love your magazine and have had a few times where I wanted to write a letter concerning my own situations, but how my mother was treated by an airline that she and our entire family including eight children have used for decades has pushed me to action.
My mother has flown Delta back and forth twice a year to Frankfurt to see my Grandmother, who has also used Delta many times to visit.
I am sending this letter to you on her behalf.
My kids and I have flown Delta for decades and have never experienced such lack of customer service before as when I attended the 2009 AARP convention in Las Vegas this past October. I was flying home to Gulfport, Miss. on Oct. 26. My son and I arrived at the Las Vegas Airport about one and a half hours before my 10:53am departure. We had checked online the night before using the confirmation number and everything was confirmed.
I spent almost an hour in line, and when I finally got to the kiosk, I swiped my credit card and tried to enter the confirmation number and all it said was “Please see Agent”. The Delta agent said that the Delta reps at these counters were only for “bag drop”, and that I had to get in the other “special services” line. I was in that line for exactly one hour. I was told several times that they “cleared” the line for Delta # 64 to Atlanta, but several other people in the special services line around me were also bewildered at the process and said they did not hear anyone “clearing” the line. I was told by the Supervisor Christopher C. that they cleared the line and that the “bag drop” customer service reps (CSR) could not check them in. Of course, I kept getting told that it was only a courtesy that they did that.
There were several customers that were forced into the special services line that had the exact same problem, with the kiosk stating “Please see Agent”. There was only one CSR for our special services line, and my son Mike finally asked for a Station Manager, but was told that the Station Manager was off that day and only Supervisor Christopher C. was available.
He came out and my son stated our problem to him and he acknowledged that they had some problems with the kiosks, so my son asked him if they could put more CSRs for this very slow and long special services line.
He seemed unconcerned and walked to a back office and disappeared. He finally came back about 10 minutes later, got on a computer and did stuff for about 5-10 minutes by himself. He finally called someone up from our line. He never apologized or explained what was going on. He was extremely indifferent. When I finally got to the counter, I was told that all flights to ATL were booked for the day and that the next available flight was at 12:15pm the next day and that it would be $752 more. I explained that I was there in plenty of time and that they had a problem with their kiosks, which they acknowledged. I was in shock, and at 72 years old, I could not wait until the next day to travel because I had only that day’s medication left for a brain tumor I had years ago.
Fortunately, my son Mike was able to use some of his frequent flyer miles on another airline that evening and I arrived into New Orleans at 12:30am the next early morning. Only a few airlines fly into Gulfport. I live in Gulfport and I had to get my daughter Pam to drive by herself late at night two hours each way to pick me up.
I am borderline in not only canceling my Delta credit card, but also flying a different airline in the future after my current miles are used.
For compensation from Delta, I requested my refund for the return flight that I never took (which they promised they would do) and extra SkyMiles to compensate me for the stress and wasted time, for my son changing his flight to assist me and the cost of a one-way fare to New Orleans, my daughter’s extra time and gas, extra meals, not to mention this entire stressful situation.
And an explanation for when their kiosks don’t work, why must their customers be forced to get in another line after being in one line for an hour? Seems very inefficient.
Their response to my request was the refund of the return ticket and a $100 credit towards future travel.
Considering that there were thousands of elderly AARP members transiting through Las Vegas (largest convention ever in Vegas), what if an elderly couple had a flat tire on their rental car on the way to the airport, or they were delayed due to a handicap?
And now this couple has to not only fork over $1,500+ , but also have the extra expense with staying another day?
Don’t Call Them Miles
I am very disappointed in United’s Mileage Plus program. First of all I am a 1K or Premier Executive member for the past 12 or more years. Recently I have booked two trips on Expedia and found out that I was not awarded any miles in my Mileage Plus program. I was informed that this was due to the booking class. At the lower fares you either get no miles or a reduced percentage. The real problem is that you become aware of this only after the trip. I feel very strongly that the airlines should not mention miles but points awarded because they are very different.
First on SAS Airlines, I find out that my return trip from Copenhagen was awarded only 25 percent of the miles flown on the return trip. To make matters even more concerning, I upgraded to Economy Extra on the SAS Web site and paid an additional $500+ to find out after the trip that I was awarded only 25 percent of the mileage flown. During my ticketing on the Internet this was not pointed out to me. I have contacted SAS and they sent me a section in the terms and conditions that said that even if you upgrade on their Web site (an SAS program), your miles are based on the class of the original booking. First of all, I was not made aware of this until after the trip and SAS denied me the full credit. As a matter of fact, if I had booked Economy Extra originally I would have received 150 percent of the miles flown. I really appreciate finding out after paying over $500 for the upgrade. Thank you SAS.
Secondly, in an effort to keep my Premier Executive status for next year, I booked a trip to Kiev on Lufthansa/Swiss International. Upon my return home and checking on my United Mileage Plus miles I find no credit for the return trip from Kiev on Swiss International. Points from the Lufthansa flight were fully credited. So I call United Mileage Plus to find out that I would not receive any miles on the return trip due to the class of booking. It would have been nice to know this in advance. So my only choice at this point was to purchase 5,000 EQM for 50,000 of my points. I do not use the word miles anymore because I have flown the miles but have not received the points. So the airlines in the future should be careful and use the proper term and it is not miles. I have flown the miles for Premier Executive next year, but have not received the points to go along with it.
So, I have to fly again to keep my Premier Executive status, and guess what? I called United and found out that my next trip to Zurich on Dec. 10, 2009 does not qualify for Mileage Plus points. So, I upgraded and for an additional fare of $30 now my points will be awarded. However, it cost me an additional $250 to change my flight status. So in effect for me to give the airlines an additional amount of money on my flight it cost me an additional $250. Please tell me what industry would charge you $250 to give them more money? Oh well, this is the airline industry.
I will make my Premier Executive status for next year, but I must admit that this may be my last year for this very confusing system. I feel that I have made every effort only to find out that the small print gets you every time.
I would be interested in any others that feel the same as I do. Finally, I feel strongly that once you enter your frequent flyer number into Expedia’s online booking or any other program, the program should tell you whether or not you will receive points and how many on your frequent flyer program.
I will make it to elite this year, but certainly had to fly many more than the so-called 50,000 miles (more appropriately called points). This is important because I was told after the trip there is no way to pay more at that time to receive your points. This does not make sense to me.