Charge for changing flights under waiver?

Discussion in 'US Airways | Dividend Miles' started by violist, Feb 4, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,270
    Likes Received:
    7,779
    Status Points:
    6,770
    So there's a weather waiver through Saturday, and I called the Plat number to
    reschedule for Sunday. The rather cheery phone agent told me that the $150
    change fee (normal) would be waived, but there is a $25 phone transaction
    fee, which was instituted Feb. 3 at midnight and not waivable even for elites.
    Or perhaps the nonwaivability was implemented Feb. 3 at midnight. I was
    tempted to say, oh, sorry, I won't change my reservation and hang up and
    call again, but she volunteered that she could transfer me to the Web support
    desk, which would walk me through the automated change process, and I
    could do it myself at no cost. So that's what I went with. I failed twice to
    reserve using the automated system, but the 3rd time is a charm (or maybe
    the support person jumped in and did something), and the changes went
    through, and I wasn't charged. Questions:

    1. Is there a phone reservation fee that is not waived for elites even when
    the call is about a reservation under travel waiver?

    2. Does it make sense that I can call Web support and tie up scads of some
    more educated technician's time and get my satisfactory result for free, but
    the Plat line, which could do the change in about 10 keystrokes and 10
    seconds, would cost me $25?
     
  2. ArizonaGuy
    Original Member

    ArizonaGuy Silver Member

    Messages:
    490
    Likes Received:
    603
    Status Points:
    645
    If they're no longer waiving the phone fee for reservation changes that meet the relaxed conditions, this is new. Seems to be the case if the agent mentioned Feb 3 as the start of the rule. While I don't see anything published about it I can see the logic behind it - they want affected travelers to make their changes online. In theory it reduces overall hold times and hopefully keeps customer satisfaction up. I don't agree with the rule if it is in place but I can understand it.

    Then there's the flipside you point out - while they've made it possible to make changes online sans change fee for affected cities, it's not perfect and their IT has never been. In that case there is no logic in forcing customers to simply speak to a different human in a different role. The customer saves $25 phone fee and the company loses money by having an IT / help desk person (in theory higher paid than general customer service) help you make the change.
     
  3. Art234
    Original Member

    Art234 Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    931
    Status Points:
    795
    If they are in fact charging a telephone fee, even for elites, during weather waivers, this needs to be addressed--this is unacceptable. A waiver is a waiver...if you want to nickel and dime, don't do it at the time of maximum stress...
    We also heard that in some weather waiver instances, they were waiving change fees but charging the fare difference. Can anyone give us more info on that?

    We will follow up directly with US-another devaluation of the elite program if true.
     
  4. Art234
    Original Member

    Art234 Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    931
    Status Points:
    795
    Violist, I have posed the question on a board frequented by US employees, and have started an informal inquiry with my team at FFOCUS. Not only will we get an answer for you, if it is true we will ask you to join us in protesting this new policy ... FREE changes should be FREE...

    Thanks for bringing this up.
     
  5. SS255
    Original Member

    SS255 Silver Member

    Messages:
    605
    Likes Received:
    907
    Status Points:
    770
    I checked the weather waiver link on the US website. It does not mention a $25 fee for making these changes over the phone. In fact, the website tells you NOT to make certain changes online. This really must be clarified, as this in my book is an unacceptable fee for ALL travelers, not just elites.
     
  6. Art234
    Original Member

    Art234 Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    931
    Status Points:
    795
    As SS stated, we can find no link to a mention of such a fee. IF they made such a change internally and didn't tell anyone outside, that would be, in my opinion even more egregious.

    We have our resident US expert working on it--and we will post what we learn.
     
  7. mht_flyer
    Original Member

    mht_flyer Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,016
    Likes Received:
    6,664
    Status Points:
    4,670
    Agree with you all. No matter whether elite or non elite you shouldn't be charged to make a resvervation change during weather waivers (actually elites should never be charged this no matter the circumstance).
     
  8. Art234
    Original Member

    Art234 Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    931
    Status Points:
    795
    You hit the nail on the head MHT....elites should NEVER be charged, but to charge ANYONE during a weather event, where the traveler is already distressed, is disingenuous and misleading.

    We all understand fees are becoming a way of life in the airline industry, but this is just wrong, if proven to be true.
     
  9. JayBrian
    Original Member

    JayBrian Silver Member

    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    363
    Status Points:
    470
    I usually don't bring my laptop on travel so if I was on my return leg there would be no choice but to use the phone in many cases.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Art234
    Original Member

    Art234 Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    931
    Status Points:
    795
    That is the point JayBrian. If they are in fact doing this they are holding distressed travelers hostage, which is totally unacceptable.

    As I stated before, however, we are working hard to confirm whether this is in fact a policy change or a mistaken agent before we take it further.
     
  11. Art234
    Original Member

    Art234 Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    931
    Status Points:
    795
    Violist,
    Here's what we have been able to find out so far....

    The new fee is $25 for phone transactions and $35 at the airport .. for VOLUNTARY changes....the charge does NOT apply to involuntary reroutes, meaning IRROPS due to weather....

    While we disagree with this fee in principle, it does appear you should not have been charged anything, and that the agent was misinformed...we have also been informed that the fees are waived for Chairmans Preferred members only..

    We are now going to see how this new charge compares to other airline policies, but in this case it appears you should not have been charged anything....we'll keep you posted as we learn more.
     
    richinaz likes this.
  12. DeacFlyer1
    Original Member

    DeacFlyer1 Silver Member

    Messages:
    807
    Likes Received:
    718
    Status Points:
    675
    Yes, the fare difference is being charged in weather waiver instances despite the change fee being dropped. I experienced it first hand a couple weeks ago when I made a pre-emptive change due to upcoming bad weather...I had to break out my credit card because I owed an additional $1.50 :rolleyes: It would've been much more if I had chosen a different routing.
     
  13. MikeLaw
    Original Member

    MikeLaw Silver Member

    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    50
    Status Points:
    160
    I just made a change yesterday and they didn't charge me anything, so either I got lucky with agent roulette or they are not, in fact, charging CPs.
     
  14. DeacFlyer1
    Original Member

    DeacFlyer1 Silver Member

    Messages:
    807
    Likes Received:
    718
    Status Points:
    675
    Or the third option, which is there simply wasn't a fare increase for the new routing you selected. When I made my most recent change (I did it online, so I saw all of the potentail prices for all possible routings), about a third of them didn't require any additional money. The other two thirds ranged from the $1.50 I paid to several hundred dollars more.
     
  15. Art234
    Original Member

    Art234 Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    931
    Status Points:
    795
    We have been in touch with the media on this issue and they got clarification from US that this is in fact the case. I have presented a scenario which needs to be answered, but once the article comes out, we need to make everyone aware of this non-competitive and dishonest practice....in effect they are preying on distressed travelers.

    We'll keep you posted, but IMHO this crosses a line.
     
    Funtodoimpossible likes this.
  16. Art234
    Original Member

    Art234 Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    931
    Status Points:
    795
    Funtodoimpossible likes this.
  17. mht_flyer
    Original Member

    mht_flyer Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,016
    Likes Received:
    6,664
    Status Points:
    4,670
    Art, because he somewhat missed the point, I think it hurts the story that he did not specifically mention about the fee being given when US Airways allows for fee-free changing of itineraries for weather IRROPS.

    But, other than that good story and I voted.

    Out of curiosity this story makes the point that it only effects those who have booked through a travel agent -- is that true or for all customers?
     
  18. kellio
    Original Member

    kellio Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,718
    Likes Received:
    6,997
    Status Points:
    4,470
    I think there are 2 distinct and separate issues here.

    The story makes clear that if you have booked with a TA and call the airline you will be charged a phone handling service fee. I don't see this one as any big deal.

    What I'm still not clear on is if this happens during weather waivers and you call the airline to make your change, are they charging you a phone handling service fee because your flight may have been xld due to weather?
     
  19. Art234
    Original Member

    Art234 Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    931
    Status Points:
    795
    Kellio,

    That is the question I have been trying to get resolved, and I indicated to Chris that was my point in my quote.
    Let's see where this goes from here, but I do believe they are trying to force people to book through their own channels...which we know is sometimes impossible.
     
  20. kellio
    Original Member

    kellio Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,718
    Likes Received:
    6,997
    Status Points:
    4,470
    When I look back to Violists OP I'm thinking he reached someone that was confused[​IMG] and therein exists a training opportunity.
     
  21. Art234
    Original Member

    Art234 Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    931
    Status Points:
    795
    Agreed, but we still need a definitive answer, which has been elusive.
     
  22. dcpatti
    Original Member

    dcpatti Silver Member

    Messages:
    221
    Likes Received:
    225
    Status Points:
    385
    The way I read it --- and I could be wrong--- if you book with a TA, and want to change an itinerary via the airline call center, you would have to pay the change fee plus the phone service fee. If a travel waiver is issued, they are waiving the change fee but not the phone service fee. If you book with a TA and want to change the itinerary *in absence of a waiver* then you would pay the change fee but not the phone service fee because that's not usually do-able online. I could be mixing up the issues though.

    What's interesting is that US is among the last, not the first, to adjust/institute these fees. I think this is the start of a trend towards more restrictions on what you can and can't do on a ticket booked through a third party. Everyone's seen AA's breakup with the various resellers and the backlash (which is actually a lot lower than expected, but time will tell just how much business they are or aren't losing from not having those sales portals). That all came about over the commissions paid to the travel agents/services. In an industry where raising prices is risky, cutting costs becomes the next logical path to increasing profit. Cutting out the commissions by steering your customers to direct bookings is logical. Say Orbitz or whoever makes $5 off of each ticket sold; add up all those Orbitz tickets and that's an awful lot of commission (Btw I have no idea how much commission is actually made). Weather events like the repeated snowstorms over the winter are rare in the grand scheme of things. I don't think the airlines are trying to capitalize on the $25 for those passengers who are actually affected by the weather AND booked elsewhere; rather, I think they're trying to carrot-and-stick people into booking direct. Customer avoids the potential for fees, and airline avoids paying commissions. In the long run, I think the avoidance of commissions will be more lucrative for them than the collection of call center fees even if the commissions are far lower than the fees.

    I won't be surprised if the list of what you can do when booking through a third party becomes shorter, both online and on the phone, and the fees for things booked through a TA go up. Not just on US. As mentioned earlier, AC won't let you select seats online if you book through a third party. VS won't even let me add partner FF numbers online after booking through a third party. I think the airlines in general have un-bundled just about everything they can, and are now looking for ways to cut the expense of selling tickets. FWIW NZ and a few others charge a fee for using a credit card online to book your itinerary if it's not their branded card, so I'd imagine that catches on in the States sooner or later too.
     
    Funtodoimpossible likes this.

Share This Page