Letters – May, 13 2014

Letters – May, 13 2014

What, No Refund?
I have to tell you this quick United story, which I do not think will shock you since I’ve read everywhere that their service has gone downhill since the merger. I live in Baltimore and my children and grandchildren live in Houston. I bought them four roundtrip nonstop tickets to come visit next month.
I received an email from United Airlines stating that instead of leaving BWI on the return at 1pm, they are leaving at 9am, which is big change. IN ADDITION instead of nonstop to IAH they were going to have the pleasure of changing planes in Chicago O’Hare with a five and seven year old. I called United to cancel and ask for a refund and the lady had the nerve to tell me NO refund was available – just travel credit. I went politely nutso and asked for a supervisor and 30 minutes later they came back and said they will refund to my credit card. Can you believe that?
L.E.H. Baltimore, Maryland

Real Value
There has been frequent debate about the value of points and miles, and as I just completed my redemptions for the year, I thought I’d share my numbers as a data point. These are trips I want(ed) to take – I did not try to maximize dollar/point value, although I did book first or business class internationally whenever possible.
This shed some light for me on “real” value, especially for allocation of credit card signups and spending. The redemptions are for a mix of domestic and international flights, some in economy, some in business class and one in first class. The mileage programs involved are Delta SkyMiles, American AAdvantage, United MileagePlus and British Airways Executive Club and the hotel programs are Hyatt Gold Passport, Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest.
Total miles redeemed was 705,000; total fares, $48,000; blended value/mile, $0.068; total hotel points redeemed was 455,000; total room cost, $4,500; blended value/point, $0.01. Average value/mile (point) realized with American AAdvantage was $0.09 (international only); United MileagePlus, $0.06 (domestic and international); Delta SkyMiles, $0.02 (domestic and international); British Airways Executive Club, $0.05 (international only); Hyatt Gold Passport, $0.015; Hilton HHonors, $0.007 and SPG, $0.021. The fares and room rates used in the calculations are from the respective websites on the day of booking.
After going through this exercise two things jumped out at me. One, there is a lot of value to be realized/money to be saved playing this game, and two, miles trump hotel points by a lot, even if we are talking skypesos.
John Minn

Milepoint Fan
Iive noticed that most of the letters you print for the Letters to the Editor section are rather negative in tone – that’s the nature of the beast, isn’t it? Most people only write when they have a complaint. So, because it’s a beautiful spring day, I thought I’d write about something positive I’ve noticed. The people who frequent milepoint.com generally seem interested in helping other travelers and you don’t get as many know-it-all and rather unpleasant posters like you do in some other online forums. For example, someone on milepoint just gave away a United lounge pass that is going to be expire at the end of June. That’s a very nice thing to do for a fellow traveler.
Milepoint Fan in New Orleans

WhAAt Will HAAppen Next Year?
I’ve followed along with the Freddie Awards for several years now and want to thank you, especially Mr. Randy Petersen, for starting the awards. Although I’ve never had the pleasure of attending one of the Freddie Ceremonies, I can imagine that they must be a lot of fun for those attending. But more than the glamour of the ceremony, I really believe that the Freddie Awards have made the loyalty programs better, or at least might make them think twice about making unpopular changes, or make them try a bit harder to come up with a bonus promotion that will be popular with members.
I also will be watching next year to see if American AAdvantage can hang on to the Program of the Year designation. If what that program has done lately is any indication of their future, I’m thinking that they better enjoy this year because I’m pretty sure they’ll be handing their crown to another program next year. A program cannot make unpopular changes overnight without warning, without some kind of backlash.
But we will see! I guess the Freddie Awards are as fickle as any other awards – let’s not forget Pia Zadora being awarded that Golden Globe back in 1981!
Al Rusing

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