#1  
Old Jan 19, 2010, 9:40 PM
Dick Arentz Dick Arentz is offline
 
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Posts: 2
Angry AA Bait-and-Switch

I 1 wish to report, which I believe to be “bait and switch” tactics practiced by American Airlines in the issuing of reservations under their frequent flyer awards.

My contract clearly states the mileage awards available for accumulated miles. For example, 100,00 miles allows me to fly round-trip business class to a number of European cities. The underlying conditions are listed as “based on availability”. I have followed those conditions for 25 years, always booking months ahead and allowing for a wide choice of dates.

This year, I found that there were no seats available to and from a number of European cities within a broad time range under the terms of my contract, but I could fly on an “any time” basis for 200,000, essentially doubling the number of miles I needed to fly overseas. Since I was seeking times in the spring and summer, I tried a tactic. I asked the agent to find any European city at random from now until December 1, 2010. When following the terms of my contract, there were no seats available for any city for the entire year.

This is clearly “bait and switch” tactics”, where something is advertised at a certain price and, when the customer calls, is never available, but the identical product can be found at twice the price.

When I commented to the agent that my miles were now practically worthless, she said that was not true. I could donate them to a children’s group!

This is illegal. Clearly AA is blocking practically all seats for normal redemption under the terms of their contract with frequent flyers.
  #2  
Old Jan 19, 2010, 9:59 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Location: Shropshire, England
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It is tantamount to fraud, but they are exempt from normal laws relating to false advertising, etc. State Attorney Generals have lobbied the federal government to take away their exemption, but the airlines pay huge lobbying fees to defend their monopoly power. Only legislation will end this abuse.
  #3  
Old Jan 20, 2010, 12:53 AM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by **** Arentz
I asked the agent to find any European city at random from now until December 1, 2010.
I know playing the game of trying to use your earned miles for a seat is unfair. I completely agree. But within your review is the above quoted statement which, to me, gives it less credit. I simply don't believe you. No agent would have the time to randomly search for any open city for a date for an entire year. Multiple flights from multiple cities for each day for 11 months means the agent would have had to individually check a staggering amount of flights and spend an enormous amount of time which they don't have. I hope there is a res rep here to verify this but to say you did this and the agent agreed, I just don't believe it.
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  #4  
Old Jan 20, 2010, 1:10 AM
Silent Bob Silent Bob is offline
 
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I sincerely doubt that there were no mileage seats available to you anytime for the entire year. If you've been booking flights with miles for as long as you have then you know how this works, there is no bait and switch tactics here. This is why us frequent flyers book in advance because we know "mileage seats" get snatched up quick.

Quote:
This is clearly “bait and switch” tactics”, where something is advertised at a certain price and, when the customer calls, is never available, but the identical product can be found at twice the price.
Again not bait and switch, you're not the only one this special is advertised to. If hundreds or maybe even thousands of frequent flyers are trying to grab that same special, it just means you're the low man on the totem.
  #5  
Old Jan 20, 2010, 8:28 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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These "incentive" programmes are really not worth it. They are aimed at business travellers who buy tickets with their employers money. The availability is definitely lower and the introduction of charges and "fees" to utilise the "free" flights, means they are no longer free but simply discounted. The psychological effect is much the same as the supermarket offers of buy 1, get 1 free. The airlines rely on customers who feel they are getting something for nothing at the time of purchase, which incentivises them to buy; but by the time they come to redeem, the barriers are so high that they often can't utilise them. The customer then simply writes it off as something they didn't pay for anyway.

The goal of a frequent flyer programme is to try and distort normal consumer behaviour. The concept in essense is this. If AA and Delta offer flights from NY to LA, the frequent flyer will not necessarily take the lowest fare, but will choose the carrier which offers their incentive. The reason is that the fare difference is paid by the employer, not the traveller. This interferes with normal market forces.

The best way is to simply buy the lowest price ticket consistent with the standard of service you require and forget frequent flyer. Overall, you will spend less even without the "free" tickets.

Last edited by jimworcs; Jan 20, 2010 at 8:30 AM.
  #6  
Old Jan 20, 2010, 4:32 PM
Dick Arentz Dick Arentz is offline
 
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I agree that not all flights were checked, but I had the agent look at the flights that were available in the past. e.g. Chicago or DFW to Frankfort. I also specified times in the dead of winter. No seats at 50K. I went on line with the same results. Try it.

Also try flights in the shoulder season in the spring. No seats at 50K. Look at the seating chart. The plane is practically empty!
  #7  
Old Oct 18, 2011, 4:08 PM
mariam mariam is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
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I tried to upgrade using my miles to go to london or on the return trip and both A.A. and british airways want me to buy amore expensive ticket first

Mariam
  #8  
Old Oct 18, 2011, 8:15 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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The schemes are essentially a scam.. very much in the mould of timeshare schemes. I have stopped using them all...they are simply not worth it.
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