Letters – January, 21 2011

Letters – January, 21 2011

Good Luck

Good luck to the United and Continental merger. It’s January 2011. My partner and I flew a Continental itinerary, booked on United Airlines, in July 2010. At first we each got mileage credit for half the flights. After I wrote two letters and resubmitted my data, I finally got my mileage–four months later. As of today, over six months later, my partner has not received his due mileage for the same flights, the same record locator, etc.

This is after calling United and resubmitting mileage FOUR times. If they cannot complete the simplest of transactions, how can we expect these two big businesses to merge seamlessly?

It does not bode well for them. GOOD LUCK!!
Thomas Murov

Dangerous Travels

In regard to the TSA security measures, frequent flyers, TSA agents and airport personnel need to be concerned. The Center for Disease Control has apparently suggested that one ask the TSA agents to change their gloves before fondling you inside your clothing.

However, that makes little or no sense at all as changing gloves in a non-sterile environment wouldn’t seem to make much of a difference. You have to handle the gloves to change them, exposing yourself to virulent diseases as well.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is extremely contagious, the contact area is from midriff to thighs, and its nearly 100 strains are all potentially carcinogenic and some cause painful, incurable warts. Certain strains of HPV are the cause of 99 percent of cervical cancers.

And what about CMV? Cytomegalovirus can cause serious complications in people with weakened immune systems. Complications can range from blindness, kidney failure, ulcers, pneumonia and encephalitis, among other things.

And what if you go through the scanner? X-ray technicians, radiologists and dental personnel all leave the room, often standing behind lead walls, when x-rays are in use. I saw a TSA agent standing right next to the scanner which is a glass box. Radiation accumulates in the body. What about the potential damage to an unborn child? Women sometimes don’t know for weeks that they are carrying a baby. Radiation also causes cancer, radiation enteritis and proctitis, as well as decrease in sperm count for men.

Best Award Redemption? Really?

I have been a Jet Airways loyalist and have patronised the airline for more than 10 years now. I understand from their website that a Freddie Award was awarded to them for “Best Award Redemption” in the past.

In this regard, I would like to bring to your attention that such good award redemption is not always the case.

For example, I have almost 185,000 miles in my Jet Privilege account and have not been able to use them for a free flight. The standard reply that I get from them when I request an award booking is, “We have limited seats available for redemption.”

I find this very frustrating and disappointing, especially to get a response like that from an airline that is supposed to be a strong player in the Indian and international market.

I write to let you know of my difficulties with the thought that perhaps Jet Airways will read this and learn something from a customer who has flown their airline for a decade.
J. Pathak

Easiest Miles Ever

I just received the easiest miles ever. Continental had a lounge set up in Short Hills Mall (N.J.) for Chase credit card holders aimed at exhausted shoppers during the holidays. It was similar to an airline business class lounge; plus, a few raffle offers could be entered.

But the best benefit was hidden: if you asked the greeter about extra miles you were given a short form to fill out and return to get 5,000 OnePass miles.
Larry Gould


I have a problem with Southwest Airlines and their Visa credit card, which is the result of either a bait-and-switch action or of horrendous mismanagement.

Last year, I flew Southwest Airlines roundtrip from Louisville to San Diego twice. There are four legs to the roundtrip. On each of those legs, a stewardess announced to passengers that there was a promotion: if we sign-up for a Visa card, we get eight credits and we get another eight credits with the first usage of the card, a total of 16 credits.

A roundtrip ticket on Southwest costs 16 credits. My wife and I both signed up for the card in September 2009 and we both immediately used our cards. We were given eight credits for signing up, but we never received the eight credits for first usage.

Both Southwest and Visa deny that there ever was such a promotion. I have talked with them numerous times, I have written letters, and I have provided them with a xerox and a fax copy of their brochure. They still refuse to give us our eight credits–they say that the promotion relies on the first balance transfer in spite of the fact that their own brochure clearly states that any “first usage” (which includes purchases, balance transfers, etc.) qualifies us, but it is never stated in the brochure that the first usage must be a balance transfer. It is a matter of “either or,” not of “only.” My wife and I would appreciate it if you could help us get the eight credits each that we earned.
Dr. and Mrs. Steven Gale

Editors’ Note: Sorry about the frustration this has caused. We did some quick research about the promotions that were running during September 2009 and found one that looks likely. Perhaps what happened was that the flight attendants misrepresented the promotion. Whenever you see a promotion where a cardholder gets a certain number of miles as a sign-on bonus, it usually comes with the stipulation that you must first use the card after you’ve received it. So, it sounds like you did receive your eight-credit sign-on bonus.

And as part of the Southwest promotion we found, a member could get a further eight credits if they did a balance transfer within the first 90 days of opening the account. This type of bonus is also typical.

So, to be a bearer of bad news, we feel comfortable saying that the promotion was set up the way that Southwest is claiming it was. But if you would like to fax the brochure you’ve mentioned (or email if you have it electronically), we’ll take a look at that as well to help get to the bottom of this.

Hotel Elite Roundup

Hotel loyalty programs meet most of my needs as an elite member. Starwood is the best–a reasonable number of nights until Gold, room upgrades and other free gifts (e.g. complimentary zagat.com access or $25 hotel service gift certificate) as well as more points.

Hilton Gold does not guarantee good service–it’s hit or miss as to whether there will be complimentary bottled water in the room–and Elite status will never negate a run-down property.

I’ve been Marriott Platinum before and found it to be a waste–seems like the focus is all about free nights for family vacations–yuck. Most premium hotels are missing WiFi needs–this should be complimentary for all Elite guests at all properties, and perhaps for all program members–most of the time I’m staying at a hotel in conjunction with work. I’m also amazed at the lack of international options among the hotel chains–Hilton is weak in Asia, and Starwood needs to beef up its presence in Europe beyond the capitols. Without complete global presence, it’s tough to build loyalty status in today’s travel.

The Hong Kong Sheraton really takes care of me as Starwood Gold. They especially took care of me during the Bird Flu crisis in 2003. My room upgrades included stunning harbor view rooms at low rates since no one else was traveling!

I also enjoyed the Hyatt Istanbul–two free nights on a promotion resulted in one of the best rooms ever, with super city views and a deep bathtub made for luxurious soaking.

The Sheraton Beijing took full note of my Gold status–the concierge appreciated everything I needed to make my visit successful for both work and pleasure, and arranged private travel to the Great Wall with perfect timing between meetings.
Ann Hanson

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