View Full Version : why can't I ever use my miles for reward travel??
01-18-2010, 07:05 PM
After going through six months online trying to book a trip using ff miles, we called the OnePass Reservation center for help. There was still no seats available within that time. When looking at the seats available, there were always empty cabins or one seat taken. We were booking 6-8 months in advance. So we sent this letter to Continental's President:
Dear Mr. Smisek,
I would like to express my revulsion at CAL's policy toward the usage of frequent flier mileage. My wife and I have been trying to book a trip to Hawaii for late 2010 using our mileage. Even though the flights are wide open for first class seats, we are always told that no seats are available for mileage. Or we are told that a seat is available going, but not returning. Buying a one-way ticket is more expensive than a round trip! I understand that airlines have been suffering but I also understand that brand loyalty is also important. My wife and I have been reluctant but loyal customers, and it is frustrating to be constantly blocked from using our points. Finally we gave up and tried to use our miles for a trip to Tampa we are taking in July. Guess what? All of first class is open, but no seats are available for mileage!
I recently stopped using CAL on overseas flights as I was able to use lower cost carriers ( OpenSkies and others) who were much easier to deal with. CAL had been advertising 2 for the price of 1 business class tickets to Europe with the use of the affinity credit card. I called to book, but was told that the one ticket I had to buy was $9,000 to Paris when the price online was advertised at around $3,000! That's when I discovered Open Skies. Our next trip to Europe that fall ( Warsaw ) was on another carrier.
I have been emailing Dawn Segura about this issue but she has chosen to ignore me, so I have no choice but to express my concerns to you.
Here is the reply from Jeff Smisek (Pres Continental Airlines)
Sorry that you are having trouble redeeming miles. If you want to give us another try, I suggest you go to continental.com, where we have an intuitive and easy to use redemption tool permitting you to redeem miles on us and our vast array of Star Alliance partners.
First class availability isn't correlated with FFP availability, as different value weighted variables are used in FFP availability algorithms. Although you may yourself be finding your precise choice unavailable, millions of our travelers every year do indeed find convenient redemption options on CO.
I regret that you feel you must switch to other carriers, but I respect your decision and it is with regret that we will lose you as a customer.
01-18-2010, 10:09 PM
thats wierd, my family friend and I booked a flight through continental using miles to go from EWR to SLC (salt lake city) in march for some skiing and while he is in business/first i am in economy/coach (the flight is on delta....booked before continental joined the star alliance which is a great alliance) and everything went smoothly for both of us, i am now happy that they switched to the star alliance since i mainly fly with them, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, so i have alot more points with them.......i stayed away from one world and all the others, i mainly fly international
yeah i know that there are ALOT of restrictions but your attempted reservation is a while away and as you said there are alot of open seats so there shouldn't be a problem, granted it is a popular route where they make money on but you have earned those miles by flying with them and being loyal, they should understand that and cherish that your willing to stay with them, but they offered no help and basically said F You go somewhere else your miles are no good here......Jeff didnt look like he tried to keep you as a customer at all, to me that letter says that your not worth my time go find another airline i dont care about customer service
i know that their redemtion plan is crazy and one sided, they let you use it on some routes and not others and they wont make exceptions even though there are alot of seats left, you would expect them to try and assist a loyal customer but i guess not
im sorry bout the inconveniance, but i would switch airlines as it seems they dont care about you, only your money
my suggestion is if you want to get to hawaii without paying and you still have miles left then see if you can go in economy even though you would rather be in business and see if you can upgrade on points at the airport
01-19-2010, 06:20 AM
yeah i know that there are ALOT of restrictions but your attempted reservation is a while away and as you said there are alot of open seats so there shouldn't be a problem,
There would be a problem if a particular flight is a hot bed for frequent flyers to use their miles to upgrade or obtain first class seats. Vidalia, your trying to book a flight to Hawaii!! Even that far in advance the mileage seats are probably all gone. That's not the airline's fault the place is such a hot tourist spot. Continental only has one flight a day and if your trying to book it for a weekend, it's even worse. So you can either buy coach seats and use your miles for an upgrade for the day you arrive, use your miles for coach seats with an upgrade option, or if you really must have first class seats, just buy em.
I mean come on you don't think you're the only one who thought of booking a ticket in advance using miles? I've got first class tickets all set for another Vegas flight in 3 months. If a direct route isn't available, try a connection through Los Angeles or San francisco, especially if first class is that important.
millions of our travelers every year do indeed find convenient redemption options on CO.
true, very true.
......Jeff didnt look like he tried to keep you as a customer at all, to me that letter says that your not worth my time go find another airline i dont care about customer service.
jim.... is that you in there? :op I'm sure they care about the OP as a customer, but the OP wants to leave at a particular time, on an airline that only serves one flight to their destination, trying to redeem miles that thousands of other mileage users are also trying to score seats.... but no they don't care..... Try to book a flight to hawaii using miles Mars and then get back to me.
01-19-2010, 06:40 AM
well that was quick, i was able to book a flight to hawaii using miles with no problem with continental and also through united.....granted it was in economy/coach with continental (united i could get business/first) whatever you wanna call it but like i said before just upgrade after, thats usually very easy and is possible
so OP try going through United IF you need the first class tickets and since they are a star alliance member you may be able to use that on the continental flight (not sure)
another thought, go to staralliance.com and see if you can use your miles there for the seats you want
01-20-2010, 01:45 AM
Well, we pursued Continental and got help from a very friendly reservation person. We were able to verify the seats and use our miles. Thanks for the replies...
We still feel that Continental's president's reply was a characterization of the airline industry's treatment of passengers....
01-20-2010, 08:38 AM
I agree, although I would make one point. Your letter did have the suggestion that there is little they could do to win you over. The statement we are "reluctant" but frequent flyers implied that the airline had already lost you. When writing to a company for redress, it is best to keep your powder dry and not reveal your true feelings. If they feel there is little to they can do, they may make even less effort than they might otherwise.
Frequent flyer programmes are a con and not worth the effort. They are designed to distort normal market behaviour and you are better off shopping around.
01-20-2010, 11:15 AM
I absolutely agree with you, CO doesn't value FF. However, we're trapped generally since our airport is their hub. Sometimes, we can get a better deal with other airlines but the frequency of flights isn't there....
01-21-2010, 01:55 AM
I hope some of the sympathizers on here are reading this when they deny that the airlines in the US are operating a complex monopoly. That is exactly my complaint... these fortress hubs are effectively regional monopolies, with a minimal "fig leaf" of competition. Re-regulation with limits on the number of take off and landing slots a carrier can have in any given airport are essential. I would suggest that no airline be allowed more than 25% of the slots in any given airport. That would shake things up.
01-21-2010, 02:38 AM
I agree, that would shake things up. I have no concrete numbers just educated guesses on them so bear(sp?) with me.
Let's use MSP, since I worked there for a couple years. Let's say MSP, where NWA (now DL) rules the land, has a total of 500 departures a day. Of those, lets say 400 are NWA and their partners. So if they lost 300 flights, do you believe that AA or UA would pick up the slack when they get booted out of ORD and NWA pick up their slack in ORD? I don't. I only believe that MSP would now be out 300 flights a day.
01-22-2010, 01:24 AM
There would a significant reshuffling of routes, but what would blossom would be many smaller regionals and "point to point" airlines, at significantly lower cost. It is much the same as the break up of Ma Bell, into the AT&T and the Baby Bells... the same catastrophic arguments were put forward.. thousands will lose their jobs, etc etc.. in fact, it stimulated the industry and made it stronger and better.
The US airline industry is collectively losing billions. They routinely file bankruptcy, screw their employees and customers and treat competition laws with contempt. So the current system is not exactly working well... how bad could the alternative be?
01-22-2010, 10:09 AM
Again, I agree with you that it's not working. But you mention that using your plan would result in "many smaller regionals and "point to point" airlines". Do you honestly believe that new airlines would start up to fill all these take-off slots? Aircraft manufacturers would love it. But the airlines would end up cutting a massive amount of jobs and the laid off workers may end up with a start-up at a significantly lower wage and a significantly ******-off attitude because of it. I don't see this idea working but it is an idea, nonetheless. Something has to be done.
01-22-2010, 03:55 PM
I do believe that.. when markets were opened up in Europe, that is exactly what happened. There were many start ups and some of them have grown very rapidly, operating exactly as I have said.
In 1997, Europe opened up it's internal market, despite opposition from the big existing national carriers. More than 100 airlines started up, some thrived.. others failed. Some of the largests airlines in Europe are relative recent startups. Easyjet was started in the 1990's, Ryanair started in 1985, but expanded rapidly only after the opening up of the European market. Air Berlin in 2000 (although it was previously a US company), Germanwings, Wizzair, Vueling, Flybe, etc. Not all are low cost models, but what characterises them are they are point to point and they have rapidly expanded the air market in Europe.
They have had a significant impact on air travel in Europe, without some of the excesses and abuse meted out to long suffering passengers in the US. Take a look at Skytrax and see how far US airlines have fallen in customer satisfaction and service quality ratings. The reason this has occurred is because they are monopolists who are distorting normal market forces. Sooner or later something has to be done about it.. it is abusive.
There are more people employed in air travel today in Europe than ever before. It did not reduce employment it increased it. Whilst some airlines (Ryanair) are less than ideal employers, Easyjet pays the second highest of any UK based airline and is a low cost model. Low cost doesn't have to equate with low wages. Similarly, Vueling and Air Berlin have good records in treating their employees well.
Unless the US wakes up and smells the coffee, the system will continue to abuse passengers.
01-23-2010, 01:34 AM
Times were different then. The economy in the US and Europe was stronger and there was money to do the things you're talking about. Airlines, as you know, are cutting back and charging for anything they can think of. I haven't heard of one new airline to start up recently that hasn't been affiliated with a major. Again, I like the idea that something needs to change but until the economy is strong in the US, I don't see all these airlines popping up.
01-23-2010, 09:41 AM
Well, we have to respectfully disagree Troy.. where a void is created, someone will fill it... it takes courage to act, particularly in a recession, but it has to be done. Just as Obama is taking action against the abusive financial institutions during a recession. These things need to be done... and it is well past time that action was taken.
03-07-2011, 10:57 PM
After being a loyal Continental Customer for many years and having a quarter million one pass miles saved, I can never get to use them. I have tried, and I don't think I'm not flexible enough. The system is just rigged against the member. I will never fly Continental again.
03-08-2011, 07:20 PM
Frequent flyer schemes are a con and are not worth joining. You will be far better off buying the cheapest ticket available at the time.
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