Every so often our advocates receive requests for assistance that we can’t accommodate. Rajiv Gupta has the misfortune to be making such a request.
Gupta and his wife, Ruchi, traveled from Chicago to New Delhi via Toronto on Air Canada. The same travel agent made their bookings simultaneously for the same price on identical flights. The outbound travel dates were different, but the return date was the same. Three of the flights were on Air Canada; the other was on United, code-shared on Air Canada. (We don’t have any information as to why they booked separate flights.)
This is a missing miles case. We may not be able to help, but we can write about its absurdity.
The Guptas, members of United’s MileagePlus loyalty program, wanted to collect mileage credit for their flights. When Gupta tried to request the miles online, he received an error report indicating that two of the four flight segments (his wife’s outbound and return flights) were not eligible for mileage credit. But the same report indicated that mileage credits for the other two flight segments (his own flights) were posted to his account. However, only the code-shared United flight had actually been credited. This made no sense to Gupta.
He sent multiple emails to Air Canada’s customer service, including one of the executives listed in our contacts section, asking that the miles for his other flight and his wife’s flights be posted to their respective United mileage accounts – a total of 14,492 miles. But no one responded for more than a month.
Gupta then posted in our forums about his case. Our forum advocates suggested that Gupta self-advocate his case by writing to each of the United executives listed in our contacts section, starting with the lowest-ranked and giving each a week to respond before escalating his complaint to the next-ranking executive in the corporate hierarchy.
Rather than taking this advice, Gupta asked if United was engaging in legal wrongdoing by denying the miles and failing to answer his contacts. He also asked our advocacy team for help in getting the miles credited to his wife’s account.
Although it’s certainly poor customer service for a business to ignore a customer, Gupta has no legal case against either airline.
United’s MileagePlus program rules contain the following provision regarding availability of miles and benefits:
The Program is offered at the discretion of United and United has the right to terminate the Program, in whole or in part, or to change the Rules, benefits, conditions of participation, Premier (and/or Million Miler) qualification criteria or mileage levels, in whole or in part, at any time, with or without notice, even though changes may affect the value of Premier (and/or Million Miler) status levels, benefits, mileage or certificates already accumulated. …
Members of the Program (“Members”), in accumulating certificates, mileage, Premier qualifying dollars (“PQD”), Premier qualifying segments (“PQS”) or Premier qualifying miles (“PQM,” together with PQD and PQS, “Premier Qualifying Credits”), may not rely upon the continued availability of (a) the benefits associated with a Premier (and/or Million Miler) status level or (b) an award or award level, and Members may not be able to obtain all offered benefits or awards or use awards to all destinations or on all flights.
Air Canada has a loyalty program of its own, called Altitude but it disclaims all legal responsibility toward customers in the program:
Air Canada Altitude status and its associated privileges have no monetary value.
Air Canada will not be responsible for mail correspondence lost or delayed, or otherwise shall be under no obligation to continue Air Canada Altitude, or to provide any notice of its termination. Air Canada reserves the right to terminate Air Canada Altitude at any time.
Air Canada assumes no liability toward members for anything, including but not limited to, for the cessation of airline partnerships, changes to program benefits and policies, adjustments to mileage accumulation or redemption eligibility, availability of redemption or upgrade seats, definition of and/or revisions to the Air Canada Altitude qualification period or benefit year for status recognition, or access to airport lounges.
Even if Gupta had a legal case against either airline, we don’t advocate cases involving missing loyalty points or miles, as both our forum members and our advocates pointed out.
Although we can’t assist Gupta ourselves, we hope he will take the advice offered by our forum advocates and self-advocate his case.