Letters – February, 18 2011

Letters – February, 18 2011

My pet peeve when flying is that there are too many small jets (Embraer, Canadair) with passengers packed in like sardines!

I don’t mind them for short flights, say two hours or so, but now they’re being used more and more as connecting flights cross-country with total in-flight time of over six hours. It used to be that I could fly from Newburgh, NY (SWF) or White Plains (HPN) to a major hub–Chicago or Atlanta–and then transfer to a larger plane for the second, longer leg to the West Coast. But no more. Has anyone in airline management actually flown across the country on those small jets? They are cramped, uncomfortable and with absolutely no amenities.

My second pet peeve is the elimination of in-flight movies and music on American’s MD-80s. The flight I took this month from Chicago to Palm Springs (four plus hours) had no movie, no music and no ports. To add insult to injury, American’s Web site is vague, perhaps deliberately vague, as to what is available on their MD-80s. I think that shows a complete lack of respect for passengers who are trying to plan for their flights (not everyone has MP3 players to bring on board).

The bottom line is that I feel there has been a noticeable decline in consideration for passengers, at least on the coast-to-coast flights I take. Are those extra three or four seats they’ve crammed into the small jets all that important? Why not give passengers MORE room, take out the extra seats and just charge more?
Carole McDermott

Dejected but Optimistic

I was a subscriber to Mr. Petersen’s magazine for several years in the early 2000s, but for some reason I don’t recall I let it lapse. Now it turns out that error may cost me nearly three million American Express Rewards points. This is what happened:

Sometime in April of this year AMEX did a review of my credit worthiness and without informing me at the time concluded I was not worthy of being their cardmember–even though I was good enough for the past 20 years during which time I earned in excess of five million AMEX Rewards points.

When I learned of my “rejection” by AMEX, I didn’t dispute their right to make such a determination. However, over the years I had been solicited by AMEX to obtain additional cards and was told that my Rewards points “had no expiration date”. You can imagine my initial dismay followed by chagrin when in June I went to log onto AMEX and couldn’t find my points summary. I immediately called AMEX and was then told that after a period of time (I think 30 days) a person who is no longer a cardholder “forfeits” his/her points. Oh My Lord! I had been saving those points for use as an upgrade when due to age and/or infirmity, business class would offer me the extra leg room and comfort.

I recently retired and would appreciate that extra measure of comfort that I thought I had earned over the years as a loyal hard purchasing client of AMEX. Beyond the basic issue of this injustice are several ameliorating circumstances in my favor:
1) When AMEX cut me off I had a credit balance with them, which they did not refund to me until several months after this episode.
2) Despite my requests for a pro-rated refund of my membership fees for the various AMEX cards I owned I have not received any refund of the fees.
3) I have a recent letter from AMEX that they are researching a disputed charge I had filed months earlier–all of which sort of tests the idea of whether or not I am in their program.

Perhaps I am no longer credit worthy in their eyes (I offer to send you a recent credit report of mine if you wish to make your own determination of credit-worthiness). Of course I have written to the AMEX Rewards program twice and have received form replies telling me how sorry they are–but no points. It’s like small, little defenseless American Express wins over Goliath (me).

Where do I turn to receive an unbiased judgment on this matter? Is our Justice system morphing into nothing more than a Legal system? Ancient Greece, Pompeii and the Reich did it to themselves. Don’t allow American Express and their ilk to vitiate the noble thoughts and proclamations found in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Dejected but optimistic,
Louis Schonfeld

No Way to Treat Medallion

For what it is worth regarding KLM’s new policy of the first several rows of economy seats being reserved for Flying Blue passengers only: I spoke to KLM reservations in Amsterdam. I was told that KLM recently changed its policy on priority seating.

Apparently they give these seats to their FLYING BLEW priority passengers and will sell these seats to non FLYING BLEW passengers. I was offered seat 11D going and coming for an additional 160 euros. I passed on this bargain.
R. White
[Following is the Customer Care Exchange with Mr. White]
Dear Mr. White:

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding difficulties you have experienced with obtaining seating onboard a KLM flight. On behalf of everyone at Delta Air Lines and our partner, KLM Airlines, I sincerely apologize for your disappointment with the KLM seating policies for Delta Medallion members.

Based on the tone of your letter your frustration is well noted and completely understandable. I certainly understand that given your height and Medallion status you would expect to receive priority seating. That said, I want to stress to you that we genuinely appreciate your feedback as a Platinum Medallion member and your candid comments about our KLM seating agreement. That said, be assured I will be sharing your suggestion with the responsible leadership team. If they require additional information, we will be in touch with you.

I hope I have been able to resolve your concerns about the difficulties you have encountered receiving priority seating on board a KLM flight. Your support as a Platinum Medallion member is important to Delta, our Connection Carriers, and SkyTeam partners. We look forward to your continued patronage.
Customer Care
Northwest/KLM/Delta Air Lines

Slippery Million Miler Status

The following is an edited version of an email exchange between a Delta SkyMiles member, Ray Olson, and customer support at SkyMiles.

With the combined DL and NW accounts I would expect to be over a Million lifetime miles. (Believe I was less than 50K miles toward NWA MM status.) What happened?
Delta (dated Nov. 26, 2009):

Thank you for contacting us through delta.com. We are sorry for the delay in responding to your message.

Note that your mileage balance, Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) and status have been combined. These totals should be correct.

It will take a few weeks to fully update all of your detailed account history. Once complete, you will receive an email notification from us.

Again, thank you for writing. We appreciate your selection of Delta and will always welcome the opportunity to be of service.

Sorry but you did not answer my concern. If DL combines my lifetime NWA miles with the DL lifetime miles I should now be over a Million…that’s not what is shown on the combined Web page. Please explain.
Delta (dated Dec. 4, 2009):

Thank you for contacting us through delta.com. We are sorry for the delay in responding to your message.

Our records indicate that your total lifetime balance is 1,522,169 miles. Your Million Miler balance shows as 495,573. The Million Miler mileage balance shows the total number of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) you have earned since becoming a SkyMiles member. Car, hotel and other partner miles do not count toward Million Miler qualifying miles.

The Million Miler mileage balance shows a running total that does not change after you have used miles to redeem SkyMiles Awards. If you are checking the number of miles available for award redemption, that can be found in the Total Available Miles mileage balance.

When the SkyMiles and WorldPerks programs are merged in October of 2009 all miles will be combined for Million Miler purposes.

Members who reach the one million mile mark in the Million Miler mileage balance become a member of our Million Miler program.

Thanks for the quick reply. Your statements contradict so I will accept the one I like … namely, “When the SkyMiles and WorldPerks programs are merged in October of 2009 all miles will be combined for Million Miler purposes.”

So that means, right now, since the accounts have been combined, I am a Million Miler!

I am expecting the band, flowers, new membership card, etc, shortly. Seriously, please send some notification of my new MM status (new card?).

Suggestion: The online statement of the account should correctly show the combined miles for MM purposes and not just the DL miles flown.
Ray Olson

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