Not wanting to become the Dave Carroll of the classical music world, solo cellist Lynn Harrell purchases a second seat for his cello when they travel together. This should keep everyone happy. The airline sells an extra seat to a very quiet and compliant passenger, and Harrell racks up extra frequent flyer miles that he can put toward future travel for his cello. Delta isn’t happy, though: they’ve kicked him out of their frequent-flyer program and banned him from it forever. His crime? Accruing the frequent-flyer miles that the airline granted to his cello. [More]
It’s incredibly easy to pile up airline miles. I think I just earned 400 miles for merely mentioning this fact. But as you may have already discovered, it’s not always so simple to actually redeem those miles. A new survey looked at dozens of domestic and international carriers to find which ones were more likely to have seats available for rewards travel. [More]
Chris didn’t really have a serious consumer “problem,” but he had an issue that regular customer service channels couldn’t help him with. He’s a very frequent flyer, but had been accumulating miles through Alaska Airlines, even though he now does all of his flying with Delta. He sent off concise and businesslike executive e-mail carpet bomb explaining his dilemma, and promising Delta all of his business if they’d match his l33t MVP Gold status. [More]
Over on his travel blog, Christopher Elliott writes that if you want to ensure you’ll get the reward program miles you deserve, you should hold on to your boarding pass. In his example, a frequent flyer with Air France couldn’t get his Delta miles credited even though the airlines codeshare, because Air France demanded the original Delta boarding pass, which the customer had thrown away. Elliot managed to get the airline to cave on this instance, but he points out that it’s easier (and better in case of an IRS audit) to hold on to them “just in case.” [More]
Automobile sales consultant Tom Stuker is the real-life equivalent of George Clooney in the Oscar-contending film Up in the Air, well, except for the whole having hot, dirty airport hotel sex with Vera Farmiga thing. [More]
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is calling for a probe of frequent flyer programs to determine whether they deliver the value that they promise. In particular, he wants the Department of Transportation to look into the issue of evaporating miles, a relatively new phenomenon brought introduced via expiration dates in recent years.
United has just announced a program where you can pay $250 to have their normal checked baggage fees waived for a year. The plan covers 2 bags per passenger, up to 8 passengers “traveling under the same confirmation number.” Current fees are $20 for the first bag and $30 for the second, so if you travel solo a lot and always carry two bags you’ll have to make six trips before you enjoy any savings. On the other hand, if you’ve got a big family trip planned in the next year, this may be a way to shave a little off the fee gouging. But only if you’re stuck with United; BestFares.com notes that “SouthWest offers 2 free bags for free and JetBlue offers the 1st bag free.”
United tightened the screws on its frequent flyer program another turn, writes Upgrade: Travel Better:
For years, Premier members of the Mileage Plus program have received “500-mile” coupons…that upgraded your North American flights from coach to first class. …If you couldn’t use your 500-milers, they’d expire after one year, but all was not lost: They converted to 500 redeemable frequent flyer miles in your account.
Making a luxury purchase like a new car, a Nokia bling-phone, a face lift, a funeral, a blackmarket baby? Why not charge it to your airline-branded credit card and get yourself some free miles to boot?
Thoroughly filed in the ‘old news’ department, there’s a USA Today article up complaining about just how gosh darn difficult it is to redeem your frequent flyers miles these days. There’s no new information in the article, except a statistic we didn’t know that makes airline stinginess seem even worse: growth in frequent flyer programs increases at a rate of about 13% per year, even as it gets harder and harder to do anything with your points.