US Airways And Delta Duel Over The Phone For Most Incompetent Airline Ever Award

Want a great example of the broken state of airline customer service in this country? Try a four-way conference call between yourself, Amex Travel, US Airways, and Delta. You’ll see firsthand how CSRs from the two airlines can play the “it’s not our responsibility” so well that even a devoted Amex Travel rep can’t get them to solve your problem.

Michael’s story is long and complicated, but only because that’s how all airline reservation stories in the United States are these days. You can read the blow-by-blow tale on his own site, but here’s a condensed version:

  • Michael books a Las Vegas vacation package—flights and a hotel stay—through Amex Travel.
  • The departing flight’s flight number is changed. No worries.
  • The return flight is canceled, and Michael is rebooked on a flight that’s no longer a direct shot to NYC—now it includes a 4 hour layover in Phoenix, and arrives almost 5 hours later than he’d originally booked, on the morning when he has to go back to work.
  • He calls Amex Travel and speaks to Moses, who agrees to call US Airways while Michael remains on the line.
  • Michael wonders to himself why Moses can’t just cancel the package and rebook a new one with a more appropriate itinerary, but at this point he goes along with Moses’ suggestion.
  • The US Airways rep suggests, in the following order:
    • That Michael just take the flight he’s calling about;
    • That he wait until he’s in Vegas, then cancel his return flight and try booking a new one then.
  • Moses asks to speak to a supervisor. The US Airways rep refuses, then relents eventually, then keeps Moses and Michael on hold for several minutes, then disconnects them.
  • Moses calls back and manages to connect with a supervisor named Rena. He asks her to book a return flight for Michael on a different airline.
  • Rena says she can’t, because the flight was a “Code Share PNR” through Delta. For the purposes of this story, the point is she says Delta has to make the change, because they’re actually selling the seats on the flight.
  • Moses asks Rena to stay on the line and calls Delta. The Delta rep, Katherine, refuses to participate in a shared call with US Airways.
  • Moses connects her anyway. (Good for Moses!)
  • Katherine says she can’t make any changes to the flight, because US Airways has to. Rena says she can’t make any changes to the flight, because Delta has to. Katherine says she has other callers waiting and has to go. (This is our favorite part of the story—that Katherine refuses to help a customer because she has to go help customers.)
  • Both airline reps get off the line, leaving Michael and Moses where they started.
  • Now Michael asks Moses why Amex Travel can’t just cancel and rebook the flight. Moses tells him Amex Travel is unwilling to do that, because the hotel would charge them a cancellation fee.
  • Moses eventually manages to find Michael a new return flight that leaves Vegas earlier—cutting Michael’s final vacation day short—and flies into far-off Newark instead of JFK or La Guardia, and still has a layover in Phoenix. But at least it doesn’t arrive at 5am in the morning on the day he has to return to work.

Michael says he’s going to call back again and continue to fight for a better return flight. He also points out that as a small business owner, he’d never be able to stay in business if he treated his customers so badly.

Katherine and Rena know how the customer service game is played, not just in the airline industry, but all over corporate America. If there’s a tough problem, it’s best to pass the buck onto another party as soon as you see an opening and move on to the next call. Customer support is a liability- the cheaper, the better. I was really having a tough time fighting through this system- I haven’t talked much about my contribution to this lengthy conversation, but it suffices to say that I was incredulous, and often asked these various representatives what they would do if they were in my shoes. They had no answer.

“My Saturday Battle with US Airways, Delta, and AMEX” [Help with a smile Tech Blog for Non-Geeks]
(Photo: tarotastic)

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  1. kbrook says:

    Sounds like Moses deserves a commendation. Good CSRs do exist (I should know, I was one) and should be encouraged to continue actually being helpful.

    • Wombatish says:

      @kbrook: They wouldn’t rebook his package because of a cancellation fee.

      That goes against everything Amex advertises itself as.

      I realize this isn’t Moses’ fault per se, however, they should have rebooked his plan and/or offered to take his plight up with the airlines for him.

      Amex sells themselves on the protection they provide, and then don’t provide any protection in an all too common case like this? Eat the cancellation fee, Amex, and retain a very satisfied customer.

    • SacraBos says:

      @Wombatish: There is also the issue that not only would they get charged the cancellation fee, they may not be able to rebook at the same rate – or at all if the hotel was overbooked. It’s the “bird in the hand” concept.

      If they cancel a flight, often that does create problems in rebooking flights with similar schedule times, and I think AmEx did a good job in getting both parties on the phone. The airlines where the problem here, and refused to take any responsibility.

  2. dragonfire81 says:

    It’s all about numbers to the corporations.

    Let’s say I serve 1000 customers a day.

    Of those, 20 get pissed off at me.

    I can help them, or I can just tell them to pound sand because I’ve 980 happy customers keeping my company in business.

    It’s all about your expendability.

    • Brian Johnson says:

      @dragonfire81: A company like Apple would tell you that you should please all 1000.

      And that is why Apple craps gold and airlines don’t.

      If you piss off 20 people then those 20 leave. Then you piss off 20 more then those people leave. Good customer service can help a company make more money than any special deal.

      • ceriphim says:

        @Brian Johnson: Jesus H. Christ, seriously? I think you’re looking for the Church of the Apple Fanboi, it’s over on Gizmodo…

      • blash says:

        @Brian Johnson: Exactly. Realistically speaking, 19 of those 20 shouldn’t get pissed off at you – 20th can’t be helped cause he’ll be insane, literally.

      • StreamOfConsciousness says:

        @Brian Johnson: LOL….I think you have something at the corner of your mouth that belongs to Steve Jobs. :)

        • pjorg says:

          @StreamOfConsciousness: It’s unfortunate that Apple is such a flash point for controversy, because whatever you think of them, they have an extremely loyal customer base that evangelizes on their behalf. Their products sell themselves because the brand is for many people synonymous with quality in every respect. That’s a company that’s doing something right.

      • Anonymous says:

        @I am a Platinum member on Us Airways. I was invited by US Airways to call them and pay around one thousand bucks to upgrade my status to Chairman’s Preferred Status. I did not care to upgrade but when I looked at the benefits that I dont have to pay for changing or re depositing fees for my dividend mile tickets, I decided to call. I spoke to Becky at Dividend miles and told her that I had two tickets using my fiend’s miles and then proceeded to give her the record locator number. I asked her to make sure that the information she is giving me is the correct one. She put me on hold for about three minutes and came back and assured me that I will not be charged and thus I agrred to pay 1000 US Dollars to upgrade.

        A week later, I called US airways to asked them to cancel one of my tickets and re deposit the miles. The agent told me that I have to pay 250 dollars to do so. I told her the entire story and then she put me on hold for about ten minutes and came back and told me that there is nothing she can do to help me and that I should call Dividend miles and talk to them.

        I then called and spoke to a guy Dan. He was a cold and rude son of a bitch. Not only he told me that he could not help me , he tried to imply that i did not understand Becky. He acted like as an a** and a jerk. This is precisely the reason as to why none of the US Carriers will NEVER make any money. They have no idea of customer service. They act like robots with no compassion and show no responsibilty for their action. I fly onec a month around the world in First Class and I am sure that I will never fly US Airways no matter what happens.

        I dont understand this. I hope that our Government NEVER bails them out and le them go out of business. They keep on filing bankruptcy and hurt people but never learn that by being responsible and courteosu, they may get more passengers and may start making money. I fily Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines and I can assure you that no one at those airline will ever act like Becky and Dan at US Airways. It just does not happen.

        I hope to GOD that US Airways will go bankrupt for ever and disappear from US like Pan American and other carriers. They are grossly incompetent.

        No. of times flown on this Airlines: No Comment
        Class flown most frequently: First Class
        Brian Johnson:

  3. headhot says:

    man, people need to start recording calls like this to shame the companies.

  4. Bennett Hall says:

    great story, however, please consider that “customer service” is merely a category-brand used to make customers think that they are being served, when in fact they are being controlled.

    problem is, “custom control, how can I constrain you” just doesn’t have a nice ring, and most employees of said CSR departments may also ponder their given role in life if they realized that is what they were doing

  5. twophrasebark says:

    “and arrives almost 5 hours later than he’d originally booked, on the morning when he has to go back to work.”

    I have to disagree here and say that Michael doesn’t understand how air travel works.

    A change of five hours in your itinerary is an inconvenience, but it happens. Airline schedules are not guaranteed. Ever.

    That’s why you don’t book travel so close that you might end up being late for work. Or if you do, you have to be prepared to… be late for work.

    Who hasn’t had a flight fiasco where you end up arriving in the afternoon when you were supposed to arrive in the morning; or arrive at midnight when you thought you’d be home in time for dinner.

    The answer is everyone has experienced this. You have to leave time when you book travel for delays and schedule changes. I admit five hours is a lot, but what if it was three hours? It still sounds like you were going to be late for work and you scheduled something kind of unrealistic.

    • s25843 says:

      @twophrasebark:

      Agreed. Knowing the airlines, the flight that he got rebooked on will change.

      Flying from the west coast to the east coast is tricky. I fly to Vegas alot for business, and coming back from Boston, you either have to leave Vegas at 11pm PST the night before and land around 6 or 7am EST the next morning, or leave at 1 or 2 pm and land at 9 or 10 pm because of the time change.

      He should have just sucked up the 5 hour change and called it a day, since, when they put him on a flight that leaves earlier to get him IN EARLIER, he whined too.

    • s25843 says:

      @twophrasebark:

      May I also add, why would there be a US Air codeshare on Delta?? I am a medallion with them, and I have NEVER seen a US Air codeshare available.

      They aren’t even in the same Airline alliance, the only viable codeshares would be NWA, or Continental, since they are the only two US Skyteam airlines. (US is in Star Alliance)

      • floraposte says:

        @s25843: It’s not technically a flight codeshare, it’s a reservation share–the whole round trip was booked through Delta, even though the return leg was on US Air.

    • nybiker says:

      @twophrasebark: +1. If JFK was his desired airport, then it’s going to bite the big one to land at Newark and then get across to wherever he’s got to go to to get to work. Depending on where he works, I would have suggested bringing in a change of clothes ahead of time and then taking either a cab, the AirTrain, or the bus (airport to Manhattan) to his destination. He gets to work on time and then can change and be all set. I don’t know what his new arrival time was going to be when they made it 5 hours later. I am guessing that he’d land around 6am which should give him time to arrive at work without too much trouble.

    • Jim Topoleski says:

      @twophrasebark: while I agree he is being silly thinking he could just fly in and come to work (seriously who does that unless its a business trip?) screwing up a flight this badly is insane.

      • Etoiles says:

        @Jim Topoleski: *raises hand* I’ve jumped off a plane and gone straight to work, many times.

        For a year I had a long-distance relationship, NYC/DC. (For the record, I eventually relocated to DC and we’re getting married this fall.) The quickest and most effective way for us to travel to each other was to fly JetBlue from JFK to IAD. There were several Monday mornings where I landed at JFK at 7:30 and then took the LIRR into Manhattan for work like all the other commuters. Sure, I once had a four-hour flight delay that royally screwed me over, but that’s an entirely different thing — and a calculated risk — than my flight time suddenly shifting by four hours.

    • blash says:

      @twophrasebark: You know, I actually haven’t. That’s because I like to give my money to airlines that tend to get it right the first time – Virgin America being the primary example, since 99% of my domestic airtravel is done between home (Washington DC) and college (Los Angeles).

      How much more does it cost me? Maybe $50. What do I get? Comfortable seats, free Mah Jong, free power socket for my laptop, mood lighting, all the hot tea I can drink, and best of all – being able to check my bag in 5 minutes with a flight attendant while looking across the terminal at the poor United fliers who have to wait 2 hours for an attendant to check their bags. It’s a bunch of little stuff but it goes a long way in terms of not having to deal with representatives over the phone for hours, getting to the airport hours later, and arriving in a better condition – that’s worth $100 round-trip to me since I don’t fly often.

    • snowburnt says:

      @twophrasebark: Sure delays and flight changes and cancellations happen. They happen a lot. Most of the time they shouldn’t happen and when they do it should be a lot easier to reschedule. If they can cancel a flight with no notice and not have to pay you a cancellation fee, shouldn’t you be able to reschedule a flight without one?

      I know that’s a quick way for them to fee you to death, but it’s wrong and shouldn’t happen as much as we are all used to it.

  6. P.T.Wheatstraw says:

    dragonfire81: Let me introduce you to an Econ 101 concept called “margins.”

    It’s not the 980 customers who matter, necessarily. It’s pleasing 981 of them that is essential to making a profit.

    Since you can’t grasp this, your airline goes out of business (or is forced to ask employees to take a pay cut–not executives, though!)

  7. sleze69 says:

    I was just about the conclude how good Amex travel was until I read this line:

    Moses tells him Amex Travel is unwilling to do that, because the hotel would charge them a cancellation fee.

    After traveling for the majority of my job for several years, I just can’t see the use of having anyone else book my flights, hotels or rental cars. I have never had a problem when I booked everything myself.

    • STrRedWolf says:

      @sleze69: Seconded, with a caveat. When I book travel, it’s usually to a convention with a clearly defined hotel and a group code to book under, so I book the hotel separate from the flight. So any combo deals go out the window, because I’m already saving money on the hotel. I also don’t need a rental car, as usually the con is at or near the hotel I’m staying at (plus, no license, just state ID).

      So it comes down to the airline, which you have US Air, United, Delta, American, or Southwest basically. Both United and US Air didn’t have their act together in 2007, when they and Expedia dropped my reservation booked on United from Baltimore to Pittsburgh, and broke it. US Air did recover and rebooked me, with little problem (LOUD DASH 8-300!!!)… but since United was the flight where I booked on originally and got changed supposedly twice, and lost…

      …made me go Southwest. Direct flight in 45 minutes! Yay!

  8. coren says:

    Why not just find a new flight independent of the hotel? If they can book a different return flight then surely they can book an entirely new package without disrupting that, right? (I didn’t read his site, so maybe not?)

  9. Blueskylaw says:

    I am having a problem with this new computer program I just bought.

    1). Program company says it’s a Windows problem.

    2). Microsoft says it’s a problem with your security software program, anti-virus/firewall.

    3). Security company says it’s a problem with your new computer program.

    1). Program company says it’s a Windows problem.

    2). Microsoft says it’s a problem with your security software program, anti-virus/firewall.

    3). Security company says it’s a problem with your new computer program.

    Rinse, lather, repeat.

    • Jakuub says:

      @Blueskylaw: That seems like an awfully easy cycle to break; stop running the security program for a bit and test your new program, if it works, MS was right, if it doesn’t, they were wrong, and you can then force either MS or the program company to do something about it. (if it’s sold as a windows app, it probably shouldn’t fail because of problems with windows).

      • Blueskylaw says:

        @Jakuub:

        Thank you for the advice, I will keep it in mind.
        The actual point of my post was to show how companies try to put the blame for problems on other companies and make you play phone tag instead of just helping you.

        Like Brian Johnson (below) said, It has been proven time and time again that good customer service will bring back customers. And those customers will speak only good things about said company.

    • snowburnt says:

      @Blueskylaw: I’ll concede that most of the time where Microsoft fails is their tech support is very hard to understand.

      Your issue however is not a problem with Microsoft. Its a problem with the company you bought the program from.

      Think about it: MS has made an operating system that thousands (probably an understatement) of companies write software for. They can’t be held responsible if one guy in one company writes his code in such a way that it doesn’t tell you what the problem is. And if Microsoft didn’t write the software, how could they predict how it would interact with anything else on your computer. It’s like dropping a North American bull frog in the middle of Australia. You’re not sure what’s going to happen, but Australia is still going to be there when it all plays out.

      The problem you’re experiencing is a common one though, the software company doesn’t want to go through the full troubleshooting process with you because they don’t understand Windows, they’re too lazy, the people that understand windows don’t understand the software application, or all of these put together along with the fact that they’re understaffed. What do they do? The same thing US air and Delta did, pass the buck to Microsoft. If they were worth their muster they would have known that the problem was with the anti-virus/firwall and wouldn’t have had to pass you to Microsoft, they would have been able to pass you to the anti-virus company. In your case it seems like Microsoft should be applauded for being able to trouble shoot a software application that they’ve never seen before and shouldn’t have to deal with.

      The real blame in your post should be between the other two companies, but where most of the blame falls is on Microsoft because they’re the cheap easy scapegoat behemoth.

    • ARPRINCE says:

      @Blueskylaw: I bet the problem is not with the computer, OS or software. It’s the user!!!!! ;)

  10. Brian Johnson says:

    It frustrates me to no end how blind these corporations are. It has been proven time and time again that good customer service will bring back customers. And those customers will speak only good things about said company.

    One day when I am king of America, all CEOs will be forced to lay out a comprehensive customer service plan. Until that day comes, fight on little man.

    • ceriphim says:

      @Brian Johnson: … O_O

    • snowburnt says:

      @Brian Johnson: This is where the market can settle things though. So long as it’s not a monopoly (even sometimes then) the customers will determine how long the company stays in business. What you should do as King of America is require all Americans to take “Good Customer Training” where they learn to spot bad customer service, learn alternatives to dealing with bad companies and learn to spend their money properly. Until a person passes their training with a level of 100% they will not have access to their money, they will not have a credit rating and they basically will not be able to buy anything. Bad companies will fall, good companies will rise and America will be happy

  11. mythago says:

    @twophrasebark: Yes, five hours IS a lot. Leaving extra time should not mean that if the airlines screw you, it’s perfectly OK no mater what because “you should leave extra time”. Jesus.

  12. calchip says:

    The solution is for consumers, en masse, to boycott piece-of-sh*t airlines, and (ideally) to, en masse, notify the boycotted airlines each time they choose to fly somebody else.

    I am able to fly Southwest nearly everywhere I go. Sometimes it means a slightly longer scheduled flight, or an extra (short) stop somewhere, but, honestly, it still means I arrive sooner than I otherwise would have, because Southwest still has among the very best on-time schedule of any airline. There’s no BS about rebooking, nearly every single person at the airline genuinely WANTS my business and acts like it, they don’t rip me off for a checked bag or a blanket or a drink of water on board the flight, and the whole experience is remarkably pleasant.

    Virgin America, Jet Blue, and a handful of other airlines also care about their customers.

    ONLY when people start voting with their feet and their wallets will the godawful, greedy, crappy legacy airlines figure out that *customers are actually important* and start meaningfully changing their ways. By that time, most of them will have gone bankrupt and been replaced by newer, smaller carriers that “get it.”

    • jamar0303 says:

      @calchip: But that’s not a viable solution for int’l flights. Virgin America should integrate with its UK counterpart to provide this, but Southwest doesn’t have much in the way of that. They’re setting up agreements with a Canadian airline… that only gives them access to Canada and Hawaii. JetBlue’s codesharing but booking isn’t seamless. The legacies are so far the only choice until foreign airlines are free to run in the US market.

    • kexline says:

      @calchip: Jetblue, f’serious? I took one roundtrip on Jetblue, and both flights rank among my bottom five air travel experiences. I did not mind at all when they pulled out of ATL.

  13. Bruce Bayliss says:

    Michael has a contract with Amex Travel for a package including transportation and accommodation.

    It’s AMEX’s responsibility to manage any product irregularities, be they cancelled flights or overbooked hotels.

    US Airways – being the contracting carrier – has control over Michael’s booking, even if it’s a seat on another airline’s equipment (think: surrogate mother) and it’s their responsibility to manage the inventory issue via Amex Travel

    I can fully understand Delta’s standpoint – they can’t access the USAir PNR (and have no business doing so…) and getting dragged into a “he said, she said” catfight is a no-win situation.

    This comes down to incompetence on the parts of USAir and Amex Travel, who – btw – are getting a big fat commission for their “valued=added” contribution

    • dirtyblueshirt says:

      @Bruce Bayliss:

      Actually it was the other way around, US Airways said it was a “Codeshare PNR” with Delta, meaning the ticket was issued on Delta’s ‘ticket stock’ therefore giving the trip a Delta ticket number, which means it’s Delta’s responsibility to re-accommodate the passenger.

      That still doesn’t excuse the customer service from any of the three businesses involved.

  14. missdona says:

    I tell my travel agent never to book codeshares for this reason. It’s a whole lot of finger pointing and not a lot of responsibility.

    I run into this with AA all the time. If it’s a partner, I book it directly under the partner’s flight number.

  15. squishyalt says:

    A cockfighting image? Really?

    What’s the matter? Vick couldn’t email you anything better?

  16. ntlnfn says:

    @undefined: I am in customer service. It is far more cost effective for our company to take care of the customers we have to the best of our ability than to lose them and have to replace them with new customers. One of the key things they grade in our performance reviews is 30 day retention. They are tracking to see of all the customers we assist what percentage are still customers after 30 days.

    Apple has the right idea as far as I am concerned. It is far more cost effective for them to create customers that are loyal to their products than to rely solely on new customers. Airlines and many other companys could learn something from them.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      @ntlnfn: And what if they leave after 31 days? or 35 days? or 39 days? Just because you can placate them for a month, doesn’t mean you can keep them long term.

      Especially if you haven’t resolved a billing issue that crops up again the next month.

    • trujunglist says:

      @ntlnfn:

      Couldn’t agree more.
      In my company, there is a saying that goes something like ‘take care of your customers, because they’re 1/10th the cost of going and getting new ones.’
      Makes sense really. Once a company gets a tarnished reputation, people are going to be extra wary of dealing with the company. Case in point; I hadn’t had Cox in years but had to get it because I moved to a zone that only they cover. I was fearful, and low and behold had a problem at sign-up. I was immediately defensive because I know the types of games Cox likes to play based on, you guessed it, reputation. Surprisingly, they actually fixed the problem fairly quickly (although it should have just worked right away but didn’t due to some error on their part).
      Have you ever, in the history of Apple (and I’m talking pre-iPod days), heard of them not taking care of a customer like they actually mattered? Not me; I’ve been an Apple customer for my entire life. They’ve always put quality before ‘quantity,’ and it’s finally paying off because people don’t like dealing with complete and utter crap like Windows.

    • econobiker says:

      @ntlnfn: But all these crs care about is their telephone hang time – actually solving a problem seems against their livelihood.

  17. Aladdyn says:

    I wonder how much the cancellation fee would be? Might be a cheap way to get what he wants if he could pay the fee for the travel company.

  18. Cocotte says:

    To be fair, a Delta rep once fixed an AA issues that they refused to address (as in this case, part of the flight was handled through Delta). She said straight off that it was an issue for AA, not Delta, but she’d help me because it was ridiculous that they refused to.
    Though it’s sad that you have to luck out on CR roulette to get good service.

  19. BrazDane says:

    Consumers need to vote with their feet! I wonder if anything kept the OP from simply canceling the trip with Amex because they were not giving him the assistance he needed. Maybe then the Amex rep would suddenly be willing to eat the hotel cancellation fee.

    In general, there will always be businesses that try to see how much they can get away with in terms of customer disservice and still make a healthy profit. Once profit dips b/c of customer dissatisfaction, customer service will automatically become a priority again.

    We consumers need to stop having this ‘entitlement’ attitude, for lack of a better word, where we expect a given company to give us five-star service no matter what. We might not be that important to every company – mainly because they are too stupid to try to retain their customers. Instead, we need to expect this attitude once in a while and simply refuse to do business with them until they treat us better. This, I think can save us many headaches from trying to make a stupid company/CSR do the right thing, when another company would love to have us as customers and help us the way we want.
    There will always be some cases where something can’t be changed or solved to everyone’s total satisfaction, but I suspect that’s just life…

    • Shrew2u says:

      @BrazDane: “I wonder if anything kept the OP from simply canceling the trip with Amex because they were not giving him the assistance he needed.”

      That’s my question, too! I’m wondering how much cheaper it is to book a package vacation through Amex vs booking flight + hotel + car (maybe) through Expedia, Yahoo! Travel, Orbitz or any number of other travel sites on the web. It must be a significant deal to willingly subject oneself to such CSR aggravation.

  20. dirtyblueshirt says:

    Actually it was the other way around, US Airways said it was a “Codeshare PNR” with Delta, meaning the ticket was issued on Delta’s ‘ticket stock’ therefore giving the trip a Delta ticket number, which means it’s Delta’s responsibility to re-accommodate the passenger.

    That still doesn’t excuse the customer service from any of the three businesses involved.

  21. Shrew2u says:

    Looking at Michael’s entire story, $484pp for three nights in a four-star hotel and a round-trip flight is DEFINITELY not worth the aggravation he went through. Especially not when Jet Blue offers the same thing (RT flight, 3 nights in four-star hotel) for $532pp and the comfort of only having a single company to deal with if the ka-ka hits the fan at some point (no finger-pointing BS FTW).

  22. bravohotel01 says:

    he’d never be able to stay in business if he treated his customers so *poorly*.

    … fixed it for you.

  23. mspotlight says:

    Hi All- I am the “Michael” from the story. I wanted to make a few comments, clarifications:

    * I probably wouldn’t have used AMEX Travel to book this package. Yes, I did save about $50 bucks over booking separately, as some have suggested, but I was also able to cash in a bunch of AMEX Rewards Points, which was only possible by booking through them. These points are pretty much useless, and I’m not really in the market for a Home Depot gift card, so it seemed like a good opportunity to use them up. I waited 3 years for this, though?!

    * In the end, I fault AMEX the most- they could have easily made this right by allowing me to cancel the package without incurring a fee. The same package is still available today with equivalent flights at the same rate, and I would have been happy to re-book a new package immeidiately. AMEX consistently puts on an heir about the “privileges” of being a card holder- I don’t think this was a lot to ask, considering the circumstances, and the wide availability of comparable packages today.

  24. cubsd says:

    Why do people book third-party, and give control of their reservations to someone else? Everytime I’ve looked at packages from third-party providers, I found I could book the seperate components myself, cheaper.

    Also, do you think AMEX would let you do a charge back against itself? :)

  25. anmlStyl says:

    Former airline reservationist & gate agent for a major airline, here.

    When the PNR is cleaned up for irregularities, cancellations, changes, the accomodations should be made, either manually or by computer to the most similar flights available to the city pairs. Sounds like the big robotic reservation system plugged in the parameters of city pairs on the way home and of course did not consider the time layover. It happens, and there should have been a manual queue for the ticket issuer to find abnormalities.

    It’s worth a shot, on the day of travel, to check with the airline ticket agent to comb over the itinerary and to try to find the right combination of flights on the return. Find the most wise/high seniority holding employee at the airport; they will use their seasoned expertise to make it right. Hopefully.