Letters – February, 22 2012

Letters – February, 22 2012

BA Wrong Way

Regarding the new British Airways program, under the new program: One business class award ticket from LAX or SFO to LHR requires 100,000 Avios points and a minimum payment of $1,006. This is the only, and most economical way, to book a free ticket with Avios. Fuel surcharges, and other fees were previously $500. Other options go from 50,000 Avios to a $2,000 co-pay.

One more example of the wrong way BA is going with this. It pains me to read the BA manager on your 60 Seconds interview saying, “British Airways will continue to cater to the needs of its customer.” They are in a cloud.
Juan Furne

Credit Card House of Cards

It looks like good credit card deals are on the wane. Regarding the British Airways Chase Visa, I spent my $30,000 for the free companion ticket last year only to find out that British Airways really is a scam, especially with this new Avios. I have tried to get free business class tickets to both South Africa and India for a year out and can never find availability. To make matters worse, if there were free tickets available, all their surcharges and taxes would cost approximately $1,000 per ticket–hardly free!

Do you have any ideas on how to deal with British Airways or any other good credit card offers? Thanks much.
Barry Wilen

Editors’ Note: Barry, regarding how to deal with British Airways, there’s not much you can do about their taxes and surcharges on award flights. With the introduction of Avios, you can now pay a flat fee of #27 / 427 if you are travelling in Euro Traveller or #34 / 434 if you are travelling in Club Europe for award flights between Zones 1-3 (destinations in Europe), if that fits with your travel plans. Another way to deal with any frequent flyer program that is not meeting your needs is to shop around for another one that comes closer to what you expect from a frequent flyer program. Regarding good credit card offers, there’s nothing like the 100,000 miles that BA offered in the past, but you can always check out our #10 “Best Bet” that always features a credit card offer. And we’re betting frequent travelers haven’t seen the last of some really good credit card deals.

Merger Mania

There are newspaper reports that Delta may gobble up American Airlines and/or US Airways. This would be horrid for U.S. and international travelers. I believe this will result in poorer service, more costly tickets and a demise of frequent flyer (FF) programs.

We saw this happen when Delta gobbled up Northwest Airlines. I live in a small town (GTR) now served by only one carrier, Delta. Such small towns are the hardest hit. For example: before the merger one might purchase a Washington, D.C. (DCA) to GTR return ticket for about $150 as there was competition. Delta and Northwest both provided service. Now there is no competition and tickets cost about $450. In nearby Birmingham, AL (BHM), the fare is about $250 because there is competition.

The same is true for obtaining frequent flyer tickets. When there was competition, frequent flyer tickets were easily obtainable online from Northwest for the minimum mileage amount (25,000 miles).

Delta’s so-called frequent flyer site, www.delta.com, often will not quote a price for a frequent flyer ticket out of GTR. Rather, one receives the following message for all requested destinations: “Flights for the cities and/or dates you selected are not offered or not available. Try using our Award Calendar tool to check availability for an entire month or refer to our Worldwide timetable to verify dates that this service operates.”

I have reported this numerous times to Delta technical staff and it is slow to get fixed. When it does work, it quotes excessively high fares. Worse than that, if one has Alaska Airlines frequent flyer miles, accessing http://www.alaskaair.com offers lower frequent flyer fares on Delta flights. Indeed, I hold numerous reservations for trips out of Atlanta (ATL), to Canada, West Coast U.S. and the East Coast U.S. using British Airways, Continental, American and US Airways frequent flyer miles for far less than Delta offered at the time. At the same time that Delta is giving out fewer miles it is ratcheting up the ability to acquire frequent flyer miles.

Now it seems that certain classes of fares get no MQM for Delta SkyMiles and I believe these may be W, S O, V and X. It is unfair because, at the time of shopping online, the purchaser is unable to see the fare class until after the ticket is sold. It is my opinion that this is intended dishonesty on the part of Delta and KLM.

If this merger is approved it will mean less competition and an airline like the Soviet era Aeroflot.
Robert White

Tool for Frequent Flyers

We have just recently launched a new tool that might be [of interest] for your readers and subscribers. It’s a cross-program free award flight calculator. It is very easy to use, simply punch in two cities to find how many miles/points are needed for an award flight between the two cities.

We currently track over 40 frequent flyer programs, try it out here: http://www.milez.biz

Editors’ Note: Thanks, Philipp, we took a look at your new online tool and wrote about it in our Award Watch section. It’s always good to see new tools for frequent flyers. Best of luck with your endeavor.

Credit Card Gold

I recently received an unsolicited email (better known as spam) in my inbox about “Free Credit Card Churn Planning” advice. The sender states that they can help me get enough miles for my dream trip simply by filling out an online form telling them what kind of trip I want to take and they will, “… work with you to create a Custom Credit Card Plan to help you get those miles by opening credit cards.”

I admit, I was a bit tempted, but also wonder about giving out personal information to someone who is sending out spam, promising “dream trips” with credit card bonus offers. I think I’ll pass.

I realize that people get commissions from credit card companies and this might be a great way for someone to make some money, but it’s just not worth it to me to take a chance on them. I loved the last line of the email, “Just fill out the form, and we’ll have you on that plane in no time.” Yeah, right. And there’s one born every minute.
Jason P.

January Surprise

Am I ever glad I didn’t succumb to opening an American AAdvantage Citibank checking account to pad my AAdvantage account last year. I’ve read about those who are getting unexpected 1099-MISC forms in their mailbox–ouch! Times are tough enough without having a nasty surprise like that. I really don’t know what I would do if I had received one of those 1099s. I guess, I would have added it to my income and cried a little when I wrote out the check to the IRS.

It really makes me wonder about the people behind this at Citibank. I realize that banks are out to make money, but really! What a way to do it–pass on the burden to the little guy who is trying to get enough miles for that “dream trip” to Hawaii with the wife!
M.S. in Philadelphia

Coffee, Tea for Free

I’m happy to see that SAS has reintroduced complimentary coffee and tea on all European routes. I remember being very surprised by having to purchase coffee on my SAS economy flight a while back. It’s good to see the airline going in the right direction on this. Coffee and tea really should be free.

Dumb and Dumber

I just read that Delta might buy US Airways. Or, in my mind, Dumb is buying out Dumber. And who will win in this scenario? I’m guessing NOT the frequent flyer. But if the deal does go through, I hope I’m wrong. Maybe with half a brain between the two airlines, a better frequent flyer program will emerge. And I shudder at the possibility of Delta buying out American Airlines. That pairing just makes me sorta sad. Long live AAdvantage!
Edward T.

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