Posts Tagged ‘dividend miles’

To Delta: it shouldn’t be so difficult

May 26, 2009

I’m fuming about Delta‘s online SkyMiles redemption, which took us 2.5 hours to complete. That was half our afternoon.

Amsterdam, a pie in the sky?

How hard could it be to get to Amsterdam on the same flight? Very, it seemed.

Wessel and I tried to book November flights to Amsterdam  by sitting side by side at our respective laptops, plugging in the same information. On most tries different flights were showing up on our screens. We’d try again and then a new set of flights would show than before, and again different on each of our screens. Ridiculous. So we called to make reservations on the phone — for $20 a pop. We were still working online as well, and voila, we each got the same flights on our screens. So we decided to go ahead and book our flights online. We were plugging in our info. and I was actually ahead of him. Just as I entered my credit card info., it said the flight was no longer available. However, it went through on his end.

Booking two Delta tickets online turned out to be a  heavy lifting activity

It takes heavy lifting to book two matching Delta awards tickets online

So now I was locked out and he had a flight. I tried a few more times. Nothing. So I called customer service and asked if we could change his flight and we’d start over with a new itinerary and book both our flights on the phone. To change his flight would be $100, they said, and they wouldn’t waive it, though they had the power to. I spoke with a supervisor who finally, after hearing me cite “total unfairness” a dozen times, said “since you booked online, the online department can void the transaction.” Um, thanks for telling me — finally!

Of course, who knew if the the online department *would* cancel the transition. Guess what? They did! I think mostly because Wessel is a “silver platinum member.” That seemed to impress them.

Good Goes Around! Really?

Delta should practice what it preaches and spread a little goodness around

So, we started over. This time on the phone. No way were we going through that online hell again. I got a totally on-the-ball agent who, after going through some similar frustrations we did, booked us tickets. Wouldn’t you know that the number of miles needed went up on one of them. Just like that.

Here’s what really bugs me. Delta charges $20 to book on the phone instead of online, but it’s impossible to book two matching tickets online. Grrrr….

Moral of story: if you’re trying to get on the same flight but paying separately, HOLD one, don’t buy it, until you know you can get the other. However, does a hold really guarantee a price? I have my doubts.

Bottom line: It shouldn’t be this difficult. It’s disgusting to charge $20 to book on the phone when booking online seems impossible. This is why I fly only Southwest when possible. No fees for changing flights. No phone fees. No second-bag fee, for that matter. I LUV Southwest even more now.

I’m back in LUV with Southwest

May 18, 2009
Diane is back in business as Southwest's ambassador

Diane is officially back in business as Southwest's ambassador

If you’ll recall from a previous posting, Wessel, and I had Southwest Airlines dividend miles we couldn’t use before they expired in early May. Then we learned that one can extend the miles for a year for $50. Not a bad deal!

When I called to extend mine in Feb. I was told that the one-year extension started the day I requested it instead of a year from the expiration date, so would expire Feb. 19, 2010. That would be in effect cutting three months off my rewards time! So I chose to wait and call back in May, so it would be good until May 2010.

Southwest airplanes at Tampa International Airport

Airplanes at Tampa International Airport

I called Wessel to warn him. Too late. Not only had he already extended his a few hours earlier, he specifically verified that the new extension date was April 25, 2010. “Are you sure,” I asked him twice. “Yes,” he said. “Well, if I were you I’d call back and check.” Sure enough, the new representative he got told him the expiration date is Feb. 19, 2010. Not only did he lose two months on his award period, they said they couldn’t change the date or issue him a refund. Even I called and pleaded his case, to no avail, though I was encouraged to write a letter to Customer Service.

Meanwhile, being a travel writer and all, I complained about the policy to a Southwest media relations person. What I loved about his response was 1) he didn’t try to gloss things over and 2) he wasn’t offering me special favors. I always hate when I’m offered a favor because I’m “press.” What I want is for policies to change for everyone. Special treatment to me doesn’t help anyone but me.

Here’s part of his reply:

Apologies were expressed for a policy not in the `Spirit` of Southwest

A forgiving customer service department honored the spirit of Southwest

“The truth is, we don’t receive many complaints about this policy, and it is very unusual for one of our Agents to misinform our Members of the expiration date. (He also later apologized for that misinformation.) In fact, we often hear from our Members who praise us for the generous policy of extending the Awards for a $50 fee. …. Unfortunately, we can’t make an exception to our rules — if we did it for one, in all fairness, we would need to do it for all, and I’m afraid that’s not something we can do. We’re terribly sorry we’ve disappointed such a long-time, happy Customer, and we hope that you and Wessel will have the opportunity to take a trip before your Awards expire.”

200905_34_SouthwestJust for fun, I wrote a letter to Customer Service anyway, as a customer not a media person. A week later, they called! They gave Wessel the extra time! They made an exception for a loyal customer! That was cool. Even the media guy was surprised when I later emailed him with the news.

All is forgiven. I’m back to LUVing Southwest. Phew.