Letters – October, 22 2010

Letters – October, 22 2010

She who walks on Water

Some months ago, you [InsideFlyer Associate Editor, Darcie Mankell] kept giving me British Airways updated Web site addresses to get a Visa credit card offering 100,000 sign-on miles. Well, you have made a lot of people very happy. My wife and I are returning from a wonderful trip to Japan where we flew for a total of 100,000 miles.

My son is getting married in six months and he and his fiance are flying British Airways using their miles to fly to Paris in business class for their honeymoon. My friends are flying to Israel using their miles. And my brother and sister in-law are flying to Venice using their miles. I have other friends and relatives waiting to use their points.

So you are terrific! You walk on water!
Barry Wilen

Points.com GPX

If you need miles quickly, don’t use Points.com GPX! I recently was a few thousand miles short of the miles I needed for a flight award ticket on Continental. Instead of buying miles outright, I’d heard about the Points.com GPX trading program where you can exchange miles with other members. I had some Delta SkyMiles to spare and found that it would cost $20 for me to exchange 2,000 of my SkyMiles for 2,000 OnePass miles, if I could find someone who would accept the trade. In mid-August, a month before I needed the miles, I posted a trade. On Aug. 23, I was charged the $20 fee to transfer points out of Delta, which to me meant that another member had accepted my trade and I would receive the miles soon. According to the FAQ list on Points.com, “The trading fee applies when (and only when) a trade you’ve posted is accepted by another trader, and the trade completes.” I thought that meant I would see the miles added to my Continental account. Not so.

After a couple of weeks went by and still no miles, I emailed Points.com (good luck finding a phone number on their Web site–I never found one) and received an automated response that explained there were some technical difficulties with GPX that they were working on. I wasn’t given a number to call or email address to contact, so decided to wait and see if the miles posted. A month from when I posted my initial trade request, when I went to book my award ticket, I had not received the 2,000 miles in Continental OnePass account. I was still short the 2,000 miles I needed and ended up just buying the miles from OnePass for $70.

A few weeks after I booked my ticket, the miles finally did post to my account. But by then I didn’t need them anymore and would have preferred to not trade them and have my $20 returned.

I’m disappointed with Points.com. I’ve swapped miles between my own accounts with Points.com and never had any problems. With swaps, Points.com sends a confirmation email and the miles or points have always posted quickly, so I didn’t expect the GPX trading feature to be any different. Clearly I was mistaken. Yes, I’d like a refund of my $20. But I’d also like Points.com to offer better customer service and have a phone number listed on their Web site in addition to an email address.
Gabrielle Ontero

Platinum Customer Service

I have been experiencing a consistent decline in customer service as a Starwood Preferred Platinum member. Sheraton hotels have been pretty erratic about depositing my Platinum amenity of 500 points. I called Platinum customer service three weeks ago to get the points in … and it’s still not done. Called today again and asked for supervisor’s help. After a nine minute wait time, the guy tells me it’s my responsibility to confirm before I check out that my Platinum amenity has been applied to account … Shocking!

I asked if I could talk with anybody higher than him … a manager, regional manager or a customer service executive … and the answer was even worse, “They are not customer facing roles and they do not talk to customers.”

Guess SPG has been getting good business and does not need people who stay more than 100 nights a year in their properties.
Weary Traveler

Miracle Flights for Kids

I read an article in aarp.org written by Peter Greenberg. In the article, he references statistics from Randy Petersen, InsideFlyer’s publisher, concerning unused frequent flyer miles. I was compelled to contact you about our organization, Miracle Flights for Kids, hoping that you may mention us to your readers, who hopefully may wish to donate their miles to help fly sick children to and from medical treatment.

Miracle Flights for Kids is the largest nonprofit flight organization in the United States. Since 1985, we have provided over 64,000 free flights for economically disadvantaged children who must travel for life-saving medical care not available to them in the community in which they live, the cost of which they cannot afford. We operate solely upon donations, providing commercial airlines tickets from anywhere in the United States to treatment facilities and hospitals in the United States. The gift of miles would certainly allow us to provide even more flights for needy, critically ill children.

Please learn more about us on our Web site, http://www.miracleflightsforkids.org, and our blog, http://www.miracleflights.net

Thank you for your time and attention.
Rebecca Boyce

Delta Award Trip Tip

In the past, I have been very frustrated with using Delta miles at the Saver level. For my many years with Northwest Airlines, I NEVER paid more miles than necessary and I always got the trip I wanted.

It has been a different and very frustrating story with Delta! At the Ann Arbor Art Fair DO this past July, speaker Nathan (FlyerTalk handle: wannaflyforless) opened my eyes on the way to find Saver Delta award seats. Wait until the last minute, start three days out, two, one … He was right on!

New Way to Shop for Miles

I just read about the new way that United Mileage Plus is allowing their members to earn miles when shopping online and I have to say, that I like what I see so far. I enjoy getting miles for shopping online and now I have a new option. With this new program, which is very similar to the dining programs for miles, which I also enjoy, I just need to register the credit cards I want tied into my United shopping and can now shop at a handful of real stores and catalogs. Like I said, I like it and I hope my other frequent flyer programs will follow United’s lead with this one.
Thomas G.

Bag That

I’m not sure what to do with this one. I recently took a flight on a major U.S. airline (to remain nameless until I can figure this out) and because I was traveling for almost a month I had to check in my bag, and paid the necessary bag fee. When I got to my destination, my bag wasn’t there. And it took the airline two days to get the bag to me. I really don’t feel like I should have to pay for a bag that was two days late! I mean, really!

I called the service center for the airline and have so far been getting the run around. I guess my only option is to keep bugging them, and I certainly plan to do that. I hate these fees and the least the airlines can do is give money back if the bags don’t make it to the destination as planned. And I think they should give me a side of bonus miles too!
Mathew Goddard

Tired of the Sell-Up

I’m getting really tired of the way United Airlines tries to basically “trick” you into making your flight more expensive as you check-in online. It seems like at every turn, you have to watch carefully before you inadvertently sign up for premium services like priority boarding. Really, I don’t need priority boarding at my home airport–my hometown’s population is only 300,000 so I don’t exactly have to worry about hoards at the gate. And don’t get me started about having to pay for my checked bags. I’m a last-minute packer, but in order to check-in online, I really need to know if I’ll have a bag to check as I check in online to save myself a few more dollars–and sometimes I’m not even sure if I’ll need to check my bag because I’m checking in before I’ve packed.

Taken as one annoying little thing at a time, this isn’t such a big deal, but when you add them all up, it’s downright massively annoying! I know the world has changed, but this is ridiculous. If they can’t figure out how to make a profit, that’s their problem, it shouldn’t become their customers’ problem.
Kelly Jacobson

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