Letters – April, 02 2012

Letters – April, 02 2012

MileDonor to the Rescue

I placed a post for a need of two plane tickets to see my son graduate from Air Force basic training at Lackland Air Force base [on your website, MileDonor.com]. I wanted to thank you, because through this site a very generous man has donated all miles necessary to make this trip possible for us.
He and you have been a great blessing. When the opportunity arises that I can return this great gift, I will come to this site to try and also help someone.
Tina L.

Editors’ Note: So happy to hear that a frequent flyer stepped up so that you can be with your son on such a special occasion.

1K Flyer Looking to Take Off

Both my spouse and I are longtime 100,000+ miles-per-year flyers on United. Unfortunately, United’s merger with Continental bodes poorly for our continued allegiance to the emergent United. Indeed, we’ve continued to fly on United’s comfort-challenged planes in recent years only because our MileagePlus status has permitted domestic and international upgrades on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, United/Continental’s newly combined program (that will keep the MileagePlus name) appears to have adopted one of Continental OnePass program’s worst features, namely efforts by the new airline to “waitlist” for regional and systemwide upgrades more often while the airline continually discounts better seats (for cash surcharges) up until very close to departure. I write “appears” because I can’t get answers from United on these issues.

Selling better seats out from under their best customers seems foolish to us. It also appears that 1K flyers will earn fewer regional upgrades in the new program.

United probably doesn’t care all that much if it loses us, but if we find ourselves stuck in coach more than seldom, we’ll soon be consistently paying to fly a different airline with better coach furbishings–and flying United only to expend our millions of accumulated MileagePlus frequent flyer miles.

IMHO, InsideFlyer needs to take a close look at United/Continental’s new and subtle gamesmanship aimed at cutting back on frequent flyer benefits for the new United’s best customers.
A Longtime United 1K Flyer

Drop in Status
Letter to United MileagePlus:

Yikes! Hello!

I’m a Million Miler, frequent 1K and current Premier Executive in United MileagePlus.

How come in the shift to merger mode and adding another level–75,000 from Continental–to Elites for 2012, did you drop Million Milers from Premier Executive, the second highest level, to Premier Gold, now the third highest level?

That means a drop in upgrade timing, availability and status, frankly. One would think that Uniteditental might have valued those Million Milers enough to retain their status at the second highest level–AS IT WAS–rather than dropping them down one.
Steve Garvan

United’s Response to Mr. Garvan:

Thank you for contacting United Continental Holdings, Inc. and for being a loyal member since 1986.

The MileagePlus Million Miller program will reward members for extraordinary, long-term loyalty to United, Continental and Copa Airlines. Members who earn one million flight miles and beyond will enjoy generous lifetime status rewards for themselves, and the option to extend their status annually to a spouse or significant other.

The new program more fairly stratifies the membership tiers so that benefits logically and progressively improve as new status levels are reached. While some program characteristics will be different from those we are used to, great effort has been taken to distribute benefits increasingly and equitably among Premier tiers. These benefits will be effective late in the first quarter of 2012.

Rest assured as a Million Miler, you have lifetime status as Premier Gold (currently referred to as Premier Executive). For Premier Gold members, many elite privileges will be similar to today’s elite benefits, such as three free checked bags, priority check-in, priority boarding, priority bag handling and advance access to preferred priority (or Economy Plus) seating.

Mr. Garvan, customer satisfaction matters to United. Please know United is committed to refining every aspect of our service; your comments are valuable to us.

Priority Club Problem Solved

A question that may be of interest for many. Priority Club has changed many of their point levels starting in January. I have seen where they were allowing members to use the old point values if one called the service center to book the award. I did, and when I tried to book a second stay at the old rate, I was told the exception was for one reservation only, no matter how many points you had. Could this be true (first I heard of it)? I would have picked the longest stay for the exception if I had known, but didn’t think there was a one-time only mention in any notices that came out. Your thoughts and help please.

Editors’ Note: We contacted Priority Club about your inquiry and were told that the service representative you spoke to gave you the wrong information. Members can book more than one reservation using the previous point rates. Someone will reach out to you to resolve this issue.

James’ response:

I want to thank you again for all your help on this. It all worked out and even the call centers seem to understand the policy now, based on some later successful reservation attempts. I think a lot of us out here owe you a big thanks, especially me.

BA Bait and Switch

Please alert people that the British Airways card is a rip-off. British Airways charges a HUGE amount for your “free” air miles. They add fuel surcharges, by sector. I just arranged for a trip from Seattle to Rome for two people using British Airways miles, and they charged me $1,300 for taxes, fees, etc. … in addition to the air miles. In contrast, a recent trip to Belize (from Portland, Ore.) using Alaska Airlines miles only cost $200 total for two people, plus the air miles. So British Airways is a complete and unmitigated ripoff. Of course they can offer lots of “air miles” to get their card–because you end up paying a huge amount for your “free” vacation. Typical bait and switch.

Pig in a Poke

Letter to Martin Broughton, Esq., Chairman, British Airways:

I am appalled by the British Airways Executive Club and its recent shenanigans. I have been a BA Gold member for over a decade and have over three million miles in my household account. My wife and I are going on holiday in Thailand in April this year. In August 2011, we began the attempt to buy a BA business class ticket for myself and to use miles on the same flights for my wife’s ticket. In the subsequent five months, after weekly and later daily research, no miles tickets were made available. I then booked the ticket for myself and used miles to obtain a ticket for my wife, Sheila, on different flights. As we hired and paid for a yacht in Thailand, we needed to ensure we would be able to fly there and make our way home.

My wife was only able to obtain outbound flights on American and JAL, and Finnair on the return to Heathrow. We were able to use miles for her BA Heathrow to Denver leg. Not being able to travel together has created some very awkward logistical problems. As of March 1, there are a number of BA Club Class seats available for purchase on all legs of our trip, but not for miles/Avios points. Indeed, there is no availability between Bangkok and Heathrow from March 1 through July 1, 2012. Is this company policy or bureaucratic nonsense? I feel I have been sold a pig in a poke by British Airways.

The Executive Club is a joke. No service is available from humans. All contact is by one-way emails and the dreaded telephone tree. British Airways is certainly within its rights legally, but far outside its remit ethically. Arrogance and the absence of customer service do not engender loyalty.
Peder C. Lund