Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Midnight in Phoenix

I haad a US Airways reservation that was supposed to be ticketed by today (03-25). 

SFO-HND-HKG-BLR 
BOM-DOH-DFW-SJC
(all in business except domestic F)

Except that I made the naive assumption that it would expire by midnight. Called around 4pm PDT and was on hold for only 45 mins (see below). Agent had to recreate my itinerary and in the process the JAL flight was gone for the day I wanted to leave, at least per BA.com. But the USAirways agent told me it was available. Agent priced itinerary at 60K miles and realized something was amiss, so she called the rate desk - long hold.

Agent then said that this was because SJC was not valid, I had to return to SF. I told her that it was ok and indeed had been held, had it not been cancelled it would be there. Agent went to talk to rate desk again, then

CLICK

phone got cut off.

Called back around 645pm PST. Was on hold for one hour +.

Decided to call on my cell phone to an US Airways overseas office, as suggested in this thread. Called Australia, message said welcome to American Airlines. Hung up. Called Japan, same message, decided to continue. 

Meanwhile I was still on hold on the land line.

AA Japan said she would transfer me. So now I have the same crazy loop playing on two speakerphones. Cell phone was picked up first but the agent kept saying he could not hear me. After screaming he kept saying he could not hear me. Or rather I think he could hear but not very well. He did try 3 or 4 times but it was clearly not working. Hung up cell phone.

Now the hold time on the land line was approaching 3 hours. 

Finally, an agent on the line. Explained the situation, and had to feed her all 6 flights again. This time she was able to find the SJC flight as a coterminal. Ready to price again. Interminable (well more like 6-8 minute) wait for the rate desk. Then she gets my credit card and asks me to look up the record on USAirways.com. No flights show up. 

Sinking feeling.

Agent tells me to look on the next day. Because the SFO-HND flight leaves at 0135. I find all the flights, now leaving a day later. Return was the same. It reminded me of when I had first booked it, the US agent insisted the flight was on the previous evening. Said that's the way they had to look it up. Why, I may never know, as US joins the great pantheon of airlines in the sky.

Anyway, I'm a day late and about a hundred and twenty USD short, and it's 30 minutes to midnight in Phoenix.

And this was my first DM redemption ever (mostly an AA flyer! But loaded up via 4 Barclays cards in the past two years).

RIP Dividend Miles. 

No more RTW routings. No more India via Middle East if I remember the AAdvantage routings. India via HKG, pay more. Great availability via LHR, but do we have a formerly-known-as-fuel surcharge for you?!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Avios or Trivios?

#BritishAirways
#Avios
#BA.com
#AA.com

I used to think that BA's fees (aka "Fuel Surcharges" "YQ") were the same whether the ticket was booked on BA.com or on a partner site.

But I just priced out SEA-LHR in F(Z), (open jaw), BOM-LHR-SFO in J(U) for 2 passengers.
AA.com quotes 285,000 AAdvantage miles + $2,598.14
BA.com quotes 150000 Avios + $ 953.00 for the inbound and 200000 Avios + $ 1,397.98 for the return, [B]per person[/B] = 350K Avios + $4,701.96

Is this robbery or what?
If Delta's points are Skypesos, then BA's should be Trivios.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

British Airways Showers at LHR T5 lounges a "Truck Stop" ?!

I thought I was being picky but was reassured when I saw this post.

We did the LHR showers while connecting from US to Europe at Heathrow and was struck how run down the BA showers are.

I don't know about LH in FRA/MUC but BA hands out pagers for the showers because the demand is so high.  With a 3 hour layover we barely made it to the connecting plane because of delays.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Use Krisflyer for domestic United Awards, but plan ahead to save a lot of time

The airline and credit card industries have spawned a whole new industry of bloggers who advise consumers about how to master the complex and arcane rules of airline loyalty programs and to arbitrage differences amongst them.

Thanks to MileValue I got a neat 12.5% saving on a recent frequent flier mileage redemption.  It turns out that United deducts 20,000 miles for a one-way from the mainland US to Hawaii but the same seat is 17,500 miles if booked through United's Star Alliance Partner, Singapore Airlines.

But the process is tedious, and a few suggestions:
a) Creating the Krisflyer account is relatively easy, but it still takes some time.  I suggest anyone planning to use this feature should do it now and have it set up.

b) One thing that is not obvious with Krisflyer is that they require "Nominees" to be added to your account for them to fly using tickets from your account.  A member can have up to 5 nominees.  So when you create the account, add the details for your Nominees (spouse,kids, anyone likely to use your miles) at the same time.  Be careful though a nominee once added cannot be removed for 6 months.  (Not a big deal as you can always transfer MR rewards to say your spouse or children's own Krisflyer accounts, and they can have 5 nominees too).  The same screen will ask for dates of birth and ID information.   

c)  As already pointed out, you have to call to book partner awards (in this case, UA).  The reps while extremely courteous are also extremely slow.  It took me about 30 minutes to book the above flight.  They asked me for the flight dates, the names, then put me on hold, then got back, asked for passport information, date of birth, credit card information to pay taxes & fees etc. then put me on hold, then said they would send an email to confirm the reservation - i.e. they did not give me a PNR number in real-time.  Between my accent and her accent it took us a while to get the names straight but she got them all right in the end.  All this would have been avoided had I added the nominees in the first place.

d)  The good news is that the call center is open 24 hours a day, so I called them and did all this at 1 in the morning.  The bad news is that just after I finished the whole process my cell phone rang with an unfamiliar caller ID.  (In hindsight I think it was from a Singapore number as it was 65...).  Given how late it was I was about to ignore it as a crank call.  Luckily I picked it up and it was THE SAME (kudos to SQ for good customer service) agent who I had talked to for half an hour calling to ask me to add the nominees to my account (see above) before she could issue the award tickets.  In other words, just giving them all the information when they book the tickets is not enough, the passengers have to be your official account nominees.   I did that while she stayed on the line and confirmed.  Their website is a bit slow so it took another 5 minutes to add the two nominees.

e) Use a card that does not charge foreign transaction fees.  The fees for the 3 tickets were 9.90 SINGAPORE dollars (about USD 2.25/ticket).  This is a trifle compared to the ridiculous "fuel" surcharges and taxes that Lufthansa and British Airways charge (does United get me Hawaii without any fuel?).   But it is still irritating to be charged a pesky foreign transaction fee, or 3 of them.  (I think each ticket was charged separately,  I will figure it out when I look at the credit card statement).

I hung up and got email messages in less than a minute with all 3 ticket numbers and the itinerary.