frequent flier miles SCAM!

Apr 11th, 2005, 07:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 80
frequent flier miles SCAM!

hi, i have over 270,000 US Air miles. thought i better use them or lose them. i was trying to buy 2 first class tickets to fort lauderdale from hartford ct, or any NYC airport for the end of june Turns out EVERY flight every day was "sold out" from every airport if i tried to buy 2 tickets. however, when i tried to buy one ticket i could get on just about any flight. moreover, when i tried to reserve my ONE ticket, i went to pick my seat and low and behold NONE of the first class seats had been given out. therefore, it is obvious that us air has limited all of these flights to only one FF seat in first class per airplane. (most of us want to travel WITH someone... )and when i tried to get a live person on the phone to ask them about this obvious problem, it was quite a challenge. once i got out of their automated system and spoke to a real person, they were so dense, they did not even know what i was talking about. i tried calling several times, each time speaking to someone different, and only once did i get someone who sort of understood and tried to call seat inventory to release an additional seat to be purchased for another 50,00 miles. interestingly, though the usual price is 50,000 miles for a firs t class ticket, the computer WOULD let me "buy" a second ticket on any flight i wanted for 90,000 miles.. but really, who wants to fly TO fort lauderdale at the end of june and 90,000 miles is a bit much. i am only going for my son's swim meet, but i can't imagine that people are flocking there at that time of year. anybody have any suggestions? would talking to a supervisor help? thanks, karen
barbfam is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 08:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
That's common practice of all airlines. Just the rule of the game.

There are only a dozen or so First Class seats on a domestic flight, and they have to limit the standard award to very few seats - well, ONE in your case. I don't see how you can get around that.

Possible remedies include:
- Fly on different flights
- Have them check on UA's flights to see if they may have TWO standard awards.
- Buy one ticket with cash
- Pay the 90K miles for one
- Just use miles on one ticket, and buy a economy. If you have high FF status with US or UA, you may have a good chance of upgrade.

BTW, are you a Elite FF member? Most airlines do have extra award inventories for their elites.

But again, what you're finding is totally normal. And many people who get lots of miles and travel first class domestically are on business. They do often travel solo.

Finally, your experience is exactly why I tell regular folks who don't travel that often or read everyday not to play the FF game. Definitely shouldn't save up tens of thousands of miles. It's a balancing act - you need enough miles to go somewhere, but you don't want to have too many in case the airline folds or changes the FF rules, and you need to fly enough PAID miles per year to maintain Elite status.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 04:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22,341
I flew with my daughter (2 seats) using USAirways FF miles Boston to FLL - tickets were 50,000 miles each and it was during a standard school vacation.

Not that that helps your situation, but I would guess that as the noose starts to squeeze tighter on USAirways financial health, mileage redemption is getting even tougher.

If misery loves company, we can't seem to fly anywhere this summer with our remaining USAirways miles.
gail is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 04:42 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,586
I think USAir's shaky financial situation has had people redeeming miles at perhaps a faster rate than would normally.

karens is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 06:18 AM
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I spent 1 1/2 hours on the phone (system doesn't allow one to do it on the Internet) to get a FF flight from Florida (any airport) to Europe (any airport). I wanted to leave on June 9. They got me a flight on the 12th. This was with Delta. Obviously, retired people have a better chance of using frequent flyer miles because they have the option of traveling during the off-season periods.

When it comes to Frequent Flyer miles, consider this:

1. Use them when you can. Don't let the miles stack up too high.
2. Have flexible dates and try different airports.
3. Get the biggest bang for the buck. The flight I got would have cost $1,150 and I got it for just 50,000 miles. Often the airlines want 50,000 miles to fly within the United States and the flight might only cost $230. Buy the ticket.
4. Frequent Flyer awards are easier to get when traveling solo.
wally34949 is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 07:42 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 776
Excellent advice from wally and rkkwan!
The key to using FF miles is to plan far ahead and be flexible. FF miles are NOT "money in the bank". They can lose value with time. Witness all the increases in mileage requirements for free flights. Just a few years ago, 20,000 miles were needed for a domestic flight, now the standard is 25,000. So use as soon as you hit your travel mileage goals.

Barbfam, you are wise to use your USAir miles now. They are having a lot of trouble emerging from bankruptcy and may not make it.
You can use your miles on their partners as well.
nibblette is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 06:43 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 21
This past February I redeemed my British Airways miles on
I paid $870 for a business class seat( would have cost me $8900 without miles), and they gave me a free upgrade to first class.

So you can't say that all airlines are like that.
Redeeming miles on European ailines = piece of cake!
stholm is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 09:27 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
I don't know about the specifics on BA's program, except that they give you no miles or like 25% for most discount fares. Similar with Cathay Pacific. In fact, BA won't even let you sign up for their program unless you have booked a qualifying ticket.

So the fact that one has lots of BA miles mean one's paying a lot for "premium" tickets.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 04:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 3,291
The ticket I purchased from BA last year was half the price the U.S. airlines wanted ($600 coach, Miami to Instanbul during June/July) so I was quite happy with the 25% miles. However, no one mentioned it to me when I booked it on the phone with BA. It was quite a surprise when I received my statement on-line. This must have been a recent change? My previous years flights were discounted but I did get 100% of the miles.

Everyone is cutting back. I remember a few years ago I had a 25,000 mile award with American Airlines. They flew me from Florida to Vancouver with a stop-over in San Diego and back to Florida.

Do airlines do stop-overs anymore?
wally34949 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 05:59 AM
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wally - No the standard 25K US/Canada awards, but generally yes interationally. At least that's the case with most airlines.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 08:38 AM
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While I rarely redeem domestic awards, I believe Delta still allows either a stopover or an open jaw on domestic 25K awards. They're also surprisingly flexible on what constitutes a 'stopover'. It doesn't have to be the most logical or direct routing as long as it doesn't exceed a certain mileage limit.
Patty is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 11:58 AM
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We have even on Delta and USAirways flown into one city and out of another for 25,000 miles. Have not done it in past 2 years, so maybe it has changed.
gail is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Open-jaw is usually allowed. Stopover is different.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 18th, 2005, 02:31 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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OK, I guess I can make a couple of comments on this thread. I booked a ticket in First from a regional airport in Illinois to Hong Kong and coming back from Shanghai on OneWorld (American, British Airways, Cathay, Quantas, etc.). I am really looking forward to it as I have not traveled in international First before.

Obviously, you can do open jaw itenaries (sp), but according to American's web site you cannot do stopovers. You are also limited to 4 segments in each direction.

Reserving the ticket was a slight pain. You cannot do international award travel on the web site which means calling the reservations center (and yes, you DO get charged the $5 or whatever it is now for talking to a person). You do need to be flexible, but you also need to try again if you have had trouble.

For example: I checked early on and was told that I could go Home-ORD-LAX-HKG out and PVG-NRT-ORD-Home on the way back. My dates changed and I called back. My dates changed and I was told the only way to buy the ticket was to get back from Shanghai on my own to Hong Kong.

I told them to hold the ticket to see if I could get a flight from Shanghai to HK. When I called back this is the conversation I had (paraphrased, it really took 30 mins):

AGENT: Hello. What can I do for you?
ME: I have a reservation on hold. Can you see if I can get something better?
AGENT: Sure, let me pull your reservation up...this does not make any sense, you'll never make your connection in LA on your return. You were leaving from where?
ME: I was hoping to leave from Shanghai.
AGENT: Well, let me look. JAL has business class from PVG to NRT. Is that OK? Good, the rest is still first. Yes, that seems to have been available the last time you called.

Lesson? In the end, it may just be a bad reservation agent or an issue with the web site. Try something or someone else before you give up.

A couple of other things. First, you will get charged the higher fee if you have an open jaw that is in two different regions. For OneWorld, Hong Kong is in Asia 2, Shanghai is in Asia 1. The round trip ticket (in first) was about 10,000 miles more to Asia 2 (it was more for coach, if I recall correctly). I had to pay the full 10,000 difference, no credit for leaving from Shanghai.

Second, I tried to get 2 seats first (totally by accident). No luck with that, but I may have been victim to the same issue as with my ticket.

Good luck, FF miles are really worth it on some things like upgrades and long premium class (first or business) flights.

JakeIL7 is offline  
Apr 18th, 2005, 03:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885

If you wanted stopovers in the other cities, you should have looked into OneWorld awatds, not the straight AA Partners award. It could have been less, about the same or just few more miles, but then you would be able to visit other cities.

You will enjoy the F cabins on all, but I'm guessing AA is only the domestic part. CX, BA and QF are WONDERFUL in F. Save some space in your carry-on to load up with the luxury PJs and the nice amenities bags. You will get the PJs on all overnight flights on the 3 mentioned airlines. Make sure you checkout the CX F Wing and Pier lounges in HKG upon departure from there. Best lounges in the world. All for free - Sit down restaurants, Cabanas, Day Rooms, 100s internet stations, many bars, wait service throughout the HUGE lounges, etc...

Have a great trip!
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Apr 18th, 2005, 08:43 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2

I did not look that hard; I'm on a tour so my times are sorta fixed (I do have a bit of flexibility). The LAX-HKG is on Cathay which is supposedly nice, but I get in at 5:30AM local - I doubt the lounges will be open then.

On the way back I'm flying American on the NRT-ORD segment. At least the plane (appears) to be the European version of the 777 with the 1-2-1 suites instead of the 2-2-2 version they fly now. I have flown the latter on its repositioning flight from Dallas to Chicago and was not impressed. Still, I'm not to worried about it; it beats sitting in coach which is what I did the last time I flew to China.
JakeIL7 is offline  
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