Letters – January, 18 2013

Letters – January, 18 2013

Barking Mad

Well, I got hosed … bought a roundtrip ticket for business class from a travel agent, Indianapolis to Tokyo via Detroit. Just got my November SkyMiles statement and immediately realized that my mileage total was not correct.

Contacted Delta and was told the ticket “class” was for the discounted rate. I then communicated my extreme displeasure with my travel agent, who basically apologized and told me there was nothing he could do, at which time I told him, “YOU were the one who booked the ticket” and gave me no knowledge or information about the reduced miles.

By the way, I got 3,200 miles, when I should have received 13,340 miles … and I even have “Elite” status. Long story short, I have all my correspondence and will be pleading my case to Delta, though I am sure I am “barking up a tree”.

Oh, and I fired our travel agent too … what else have they been “forgetting” to tell me? In the future, I will book all travel directly through the airlines’ websites, and turn the invoice in for payment.

Delta should also be FIRED! And now they just announced buying into Virgin Atlantic. Branson, get ready for Delta to ruin your airline too! Boy, I wish for the old Northwest to return …

Brent L.

AA then and Now

Below describes an experience I recently had with American Airlines. I sent American Airlines customer relations a letter about my experiences, but after a week I have not even received an automated reply. This is an incident of unbelievably poor customer service and business stupidity. Thought you might be interested.

To Whom It May Concern at American Airlines Customer Service:

As a very frequent flyer on multiple airlines, I have had my share of great customer service experiences and horrible ones. American Airlines just took first place in the horrible category and in the “what were they thinking” category.

Today I tried to purchase two first class roundtrip tickets from Colorado Springs to Lima, Peru for early May 2013. I did everything online, but after I selected my flights and clicked ‘continue’ the website froze–multiple times. Telephone reservations said they would have to charge me to complete the reservation. Web support agreed that they have a problem with Internet Explorer 9. I said okay, please just waive the fee for purchasing over the phone. I was told they would not do that since their website was not down. Instead, I was told to install a different web browser to resolve the problem! American has a known problem with one of the most popular browsers in the world, but their solution is to transfer the fix to the customer! Incredible!

The first person I spoke with was rude from the start, so a few hours later I went through the same tedious process again–login, book, freeze, on phone for reservations, hold on phone for web support, explain, explain again, etc. The second web support person was nice, but I got the same answer. Rather than book the flight for me, American will now lose two roundtrip first class tickets to Peru! Unbelievable!

What is sad is that about 30 years ago American performed an exceptional customer service act for my wife and I, and I have told many about it. But I guess that was in the good old days. Now I have a new story to tell everyone I meet.

Bill Sandras

A Guy Named Randy Petersen

As a small boy in the late 1950s, I lived across from O’Hare International in Chicago. I was fascinated by the airplanes, and even then, always wondered about their destinations. Years later as a young man, I knew that I wanted to experience the beauty of the world and its cultures, but since I worked in the nonprofit sector, I knew that I would never be wealthy. I had no idea how I would accomplish my goal.

Then one day, I saw an article by a guy named Randy Petersen. He explained how frequent flyer programs worked, and helped me understand how I could take what airlines and hotels were already offering me and use this knowledge to fulfill my dreams.

As they say, the rest is history–I have taken dozens of wonderful international journeys. I am forever in debt to Randy for sharing his knowledge and allowing me to experience the world firsthand.

Peter Dominowski
“Flying Free” on Milepoint

Terms Clause, No Excuse

This will respond to your November cover story, “Loyalty Litigation,” in which my law firm’s class action against United Airlines–related to the changes in the United Premier frequent flyer program–was discussed. The article notes that “the attorney failed to acknowledge” that the MileagePlus terms and conditions allow United to change the program, but this needs to be clarified. Not only are we not “failing to acknowledge this issue”; we freely admit that this is the key issue in the case. United has attempted to rely on this change in terms clause as its main defense to our claims. The issue is whether the clause applies, and if it applies, whether it is legally enforceable. The position we have taken in our lawsuit is that Premier-level flyers were never exposed to and did not assent to this clause, and are not bound by it. And, even if the clause does apply, we have argued it is unenforceable, because it would mean the whole program is illusory.

Put simply, we have no problem if United wants to make changes to its program going forward; our only point of contention is that United cannot strip away benefits from the people who have already earned those benefits, and who paid money to purchase United airfare in exchange for specific benefits that were promised to them at the time of purchase. You can’t change the deal after the fact. That is a simple lesson on fairness that most of us learn in kindergarten, but many airlines apparently need to be reminded of this occasionally.

Joe Siprut
Managing Partner, Siprut PC

Same But Not the Same

My wife and I both have a US Airways MasterCard accounts–same type card, just two totally separate accounts. Today, we both got a mailing. US Airways wants to give her 10 bonus miles for every $1 that posts to her account through March 31st for grocery stores, movie theaters and utility payments. My mailing looks exactly the same, but offers only two bonus miles up to 2,500 for every dollar. The promo codes are different.

Seems very strange to offer one cardholder five times as many miles per $1 and twice as many potential miles total.

Charles D.

Editors’ note: Charles, it looks like you’re seeing an example of a targeted offer. It is not at all unusual for credit cards to offer different incentives for different cardholders. We’re guessing that you and your wife’s spending patterns on the cards are not the same and that’s why she received a more lucrative offer. Either she spends more and they want to entice her for further spending, or she spends less and they are hoping for more business from her. If you are interested in the better offer she received, you could try using her promotion code (realizing this might not work and the ethics of this is up to you) or you could try your luck at contacting the credit card company and asking if they can extend that offer to your card. Let us know how it goes.

No Upgrade, Please!

I am an elite member and was on a separate PNR (passenger name record) but same flight with my wife soon after the United/Continental merger. I arrived at the gate with our boarding passes we printed at home, and said, “I would like to be removed from the upgrade list and put us sitting together if possible.”

The very helpful woman started to work on it, but soon seemed to get stuck. She called someone else over to help. She called a number. It literally took 10 minutes. She must have had success, because she finally handed us two boarding passes to sit together in economy plus.

We sit down, and three minutes later I am called back to the podium. It was a different gate agent who told me that I had been upgraded. I said I didn’t want an upgrade, and she clearly looked flustered. She called up another person, who had clearly already been given my seat.

Then, the first gate agent saw me at the podium again and wanted to know if my first problem hadn’t been solved. I assured her that this was a different problem. Finally it was all resolved, but it was a hassle. I think that big people appreciate an upgrade. I never have.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *