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Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Frequent Flyer Miles Gauntlet

Recently USAirways sent me an email telling me that I haven’t flown enough lately so I was going to lose all my Dividend Miles unless I would pony up $40 per account to keep them. I knew these guys were in trouble but really, use them or lose them. So a couple a days before the deadline I tried to book a flight. Different shades of color on their calendar indicated what days you could get a flight with the miles you have. Some days were blacked out, can’t use them then, usually around holidays. Ok, that is understandable.

Then some days you can use the miles but you have to use double the regular miles to get those premium days. Why they are premium is your guess. Then you try to find someway to fit your miles into their schedule.

I finally found some dates I could live with, not happy with, but live with. I inputted the data they wanted, height, weight, eye color, sexual preference, first grade teacher, ad nauseam. Put in my Dividend Miles number, put in my wife’s and then got a message I don’t have enough miles to do this. I look at my total, I look at their total and I go..Huh? Can’t find an answer on the web, I tried the 800 number, push here, push there, shove it up there and finally got a dead line. Tried again, same result. Found the Web Chat feature. After a few minutes got a helpful soul who said that you can’t book both flights since it only looks at one account’s miles. Don’t know why they provide a spot to input her account but what the heck.

Go out and try and log into her account. Won’t let me. No matter what data I enter it slams the door on me. So again I call the Dividend Miles 800 number and keep punching buttons until I get a very helpful person who proceeds to find my reservation, hooks my wife up with the same flights and all in no more than 10 minutes. Then she tells me she is going to bill me $25.00 because I made the reservation on the phone and not online. Whoa, hold the horses Nellie, I called the 800 number for Dividend Miles help because I couldn’t get online. You volunteered to help me and now your charging me. No thanks, cancel that. She offered me the web support number and wished me luck.

I called web support, explained what I was doing and got a sympathetic response. Another geek I guess and we geeks do stick together. Anyway she said that the zip code I was using was wrong. The mail we get telling us about our miles uses the zip code I was using. The account uses that zip code but to log on I need the zip code from when we opened the account. Our zip code changed a couple of years ago. My confusion since we do get the mail to the correct zip code and I had the most recent in front of me was enhanced by my new geek friend telling me they must have multiple data bases. Any self respecting geek would pull out their hair if they don’t do any kind of error correction over multiple data bases but why in the heck would they have multiples in the first place escapes me.

I used the old zip code, got in, got the tickets and then donated the balance of the miles to good causes which was the only thing that made me smile through the entire TWO HOUR ORDEAL.

Gang, I’m no dummy, I spend hours surfing each day, I can get around programs and sites pretty well. Somehow two hours seems ASTOUNDINGLY LUDICROUS. Well now that I have vented, it is clear to see why the airlines in general are in trouble. They don’t know the meaning of customer service, convenience, speedy transactions or they don’t care. Think of me while I am standing in line on my flight, probably to pay to use the non-first class porta potty after drinking the beverage I brought on myself since nothing in the air is free any more. Oh for the days when flying was fun. Frankly as much as I hate to drive, even with the price of gas, I will be avoiding the not so friendly skies as much as I can.

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