Dude, where are my miles?

By | June 15th, 2003

Q: I flew from Miami to Tel Aviv on El Al Israel Airlines recently. I am a Delta SkyMiles member, and when I booked my ticket through a travel agent, I gave her my frequent flier account number. The number was printed on my ticket receipt.

According to Delta’s program guide, I would be able to get the miles from this trip. Well, 90 days after my trip, no miles were deposited in my account. So I made photocopies of the ticket receipt, and three out of the four boarding passes (the fourth one was left on a plane from New York to Miami). I sent the photocopies to Delta, along with a short letter, asking for credit for the segments.

To this date, I have not received a response from Delta. Can you help me get the miles I accrued?

— Gil Gredinger

A: You bought your tickets in part because of the award miles you were promised. If El Al and Delta can figure out a way to take your money immediately, how hard can it be to credit you for your miles right away?

OK, so El Al and Delta are code-sharing partners – that’s industry jargon that more or less means two airlines sharing passengers and teaming up on flights.

Getting credit for your trips seems to be the last priority on the airlines’ “to do” list, right below improving food, which is why I advised you to wait a while. After a few months, however, I figured you’d been patient enough. I contacted Delta to see what had happened.

My Delta contact jumped on the case and your miles landed in your account within days. “While Delta strives to credit mileage to its SkyMiles member accounts as soon as possible after travel, in some instances, with our international partners, the process takes longer than expected to complete,” spokesman Anthony Black told me. “We have credited Mr. Gredinger’s SkyMiles account with 6,679 miles for his round trip from Miami to Tel Aviv.”

Related story:   Why did Carmel forget to take us to the airport and refuse our refund?

Now, that would be a great solution for everyone else reading this column – if I could only clone myself.

I’m really amazed at how low-tech the systems are that track your mileage, especially between code-sharing partners. In conversations I’ve had with airline insiders, they’ve described it to me as nothing more than a paper-based system that relies on mail and fax. How 20th century. How bad for us.

You were correct to send Delta a little reminder. It probably didn’t have much effect on your grievance – which is to say, I think you would have received your miles eventually – but it doesn’t hurt to keep the paperwork, just in case.

If it’s any consolation, I don’t think you were ever in any danger of losing your points. It’s just that it took you a while to get them. If you’re keen on your awards showing up sooner, skip the code-share flights. That ought to speed things up for you. If you can wait, then my only advice is to be patient.

Your miles will land in your account. Eventually.

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