Was it a devaluation or a revitalization for a major hotel program?

Was it a devaluation or a revitalization for a major hotel program?

You are Welcome!
Many thanks for publishing my letter in the last issue of InsideFlyer. I did get my card in the mail, after being contacted by the office of the Director of the AAdvantage program.
Interestingly enough, they pretended that they did not have my address. Funny, when you think that, several times a month, they write to me to peddle their credit card, offer mortgages, etc.
At any rate, it is clear that your action on my behalf was decisive.
Again, many many thanks.

It’s All About Timing
I booked Avios awards for two one-way tickets using 7,500 Avios each for myself and my wife on American Airlines which I forgot to cancel. I frantically called British Airways when I realized that I had forgotten to cancel the award reservation.

The only problem was that the flight started boarding at 5:50am Central Time, and BA’s U.S. call center doesn’t open until 7am Eastern/6am Central Time.

I called American Airlines directly, but they could not for some reason cancel my BA award that was on AA metal. I was able to cancel the reservation online on BA’s site prior to departure.

I recently tried to get the miles reinstated, and called British Airways. The agent said he had spoken to his supervisor, but because the award trip wasn’t canceled 24 hours prior to departure, BA could not reinstate the Avios for the AA trip.

Obviously, it was my fault for forgetting–I was actually flying AA that morning out of an alternate airport when I remembered the Avios award.

I just wanted to make others aware of this “policy” so that they may not have the same thing happen to them.

Please send my kind regards to Randy for everything he’s done for the frequent flyer community over the years.
Scott Metz

Free Breakfast, Smeakfast
Editors note: We received this response from a Milepoint member when asking Hilton HHonors members to rate the program.

Ratings are generally based on some sort of set of criteria. Just throwing out a letter [grade] makes little sense to me and won’t result in a meaningful overall score when you aggregate random scores from random people based on random unspecified criteria. So I won’t offer a rating.
As for free breakfast, it’s ultimately included in the room rate. Non-elites effectively pay more than they otherwise might. Other chains perhaps offer other benefits. I do like “free” breakfasts at times, but I have often stayed at non-Hiltons where I could get an excellent local breakfast at a nearby bakery or restaurant for a few bucks. I remember staying at a Holiday Inn in downtown Duesseldorf a couple of years ago. The buffet breakfast (not “free” for Platinum members) was about 20 euros, and there were three or four bakeries within a couple of blocks where I got a sit-down breakfast (two rolls, egg, jam, cheese, ham, coffee) for five euros. And I got to observe the locals on their way to work or meeting their neighbors for coffee instead of listening to some important business travelers yapping into their cellphones while chewing on bacon. As a Gold I could have stayed at the Hilton for the free breakfast, but the location would have been less convenient and the room rate was significantly higher.
HaveMilesWillTravel [Milepoint]

What Devaluation?
The purported “devaluation” that happened at Hilton was no worse than that which happened at the other major programs around the same time. Hilton simply went first and got a lot of flak, but the “devaluation” might even have been worse elsewhere than at Hilton. To put it bluntly, the claims about the “devaluation” that was echoed again and again have no basis in reality or in quantitative analysis. It is simply the herd mentality of forums: something is stated once and then it is repeated again and again and again until it becomes an established dogma, even though it is totally bogus. In the real world, based on quantitative analysis of real data, only about three percent (the very top end) of 3,900 HHonors properties were made unaffordable by the purported HHonors devaluation. Meaning that the “devaluation” should not have affected many people, except for those who wanted to redeem at places like Conrad Koh Samui (always a use of points of questionable value). Lastly, I showed recently through number crunching, with examples of realistic earnings/redemptions, that HHonors and Hyatt Gold Passport have about the same value as assessed in terms of earning and redeeming points, while SPG is about 2.5 times more expensive, and that is after taking “devaluation” into account.

The funny thing is that the purported “devaluation” of HHonors points was supposed to “kill” the HHonors program. What one sees or feels, instead, is a vibrant, re-energized, rejuvenated and more rewarding program (I have been upgraded to a suite on 100 percent of stays this year; have easily accumulated 700,000 points after depleting the bank last year and easily requalified for Diamond on base points in early July). I am afraid that the last “devaluation” was so successful that Hilton might be thinking about doing it again.

I rate HHonors A+ for how I have generally been treated as a Diamond and for its many great features. Specifically:

1. Unlimited suite upgrades (depending on availability), including on reward stays (the latter is really special and may be unique).
2. Ease of making Diamond status because it is the only major program that allows elite qualification on base points, in addition to the usual number of stays/nights metric.
3. Ease of earning loads of points with a formula that includes a generous elite bonus, credit card spend bonus and double dipping, coupled with ease of redemption and very competitive redemption rates.
4. With more than 3,900 properties, it is fairly easy to redeem for reward stays or to find HHonors properties even in some very small and remote places throughout the U.S. and the world.
5. Some of the best elite perks in the business (executive lounge access, free breakfast, free Internet, late checkout …), even for second tier elites.
6. Much, much more if one knows how to play the game.

Only Minuses:
1. Elite recognition and the awarding of perks at HH properties in the U.S. is highly inconsistent and generally sucks!
2. And unlike Starwood and Marriott, there is no “lifetime” status for long-term patrons.
NYCUK1K [Milepoint]

Wallet Wall
I strongly recommend that Virgin Australia Velocity Global Wallet service is avoided. This service did not fulfill any of my expectations and continues to disappoint me as a customer. I have matters that remain unresolved after more than one month since reporting fraudulent transactions. I believe that this is totally unacceptable and I hope for the sake of Virgin that my experience does not represent that of other customers.

A timeline of my experience with Virgin Australia’s Velocity Global Wallet:
– 21-05-14: Velocity Global Wallet account opened.
– 22-05-14: initial funds transferred to Velocity Global Wallet account.
– 27-05-14: first purchase made with Velocity Global Wallet Card.
– 22-05-14 to 03-07-14: various funds transferred to Velocity Global Wallet account and purchases made with Velocity Global Wallet Card (a total of 22 transactions in 43 days).
– 03-07-14 16:27 to 03-07-14 20:18: 32 fraudulent purchases made with Velocity Global Wallet Card.
– 04-07-14: 13-minute phone call to Velocity Global Wallet Customer Service to report fraudulent transactions and to request further advice about how to recuperate funds. Informed by Velocity Global Wallet customer service that no action could be taken for a period of 10 days until transactions had cleared.
– 04-07-14 to 05-07-14: A further two fraudulent purchases made with Velocity Global Wallet Card.
– 07-07-14: 48-minute phone call to Velocity Global Wallet Customer Service to request closure of account and refund of balance on account. Informed by Velocity Global Wallet customer service that no action could be taken over the phone and to refund balance on account would cost $15 transfer fee. Eventually instructed to submit Account Closure Form and Dispute Form. Promised by Velocity Global Wallet customer service return phone call to provide update on matter within 12 hours.
– 07-07-14: Dispute Form lodged.
– 08-07-14: Account Closure Form lodged.
– 08-07-14: No return phone call received from Velocity Global Wallet customer service.
– 11-07-14 to 28-07-14: away overseas unable to utilise Velocity Global Wallet Card as intended.
Subsequently incurring several hundred dollars of international transaction fees as a result.
– 31-07-14: Follow up email sent to Velocity Global Wallet customer service requesting update on matter. Return email received from Velocity Global Wallet customer service indicating no email correspondence would be able to be made due to privacy reasons.

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