Gordon Robertson paid $2,706 for a ticket from Vancouver to Brisbane on Singapore Airlines. Little did he know that the ticket didn’t come with something he — and indeed, most passengers — expect when they book a flight: frequent flier miles.
“I bought the ticket specifically because the airline was a participating Star Alliance member, and gave my Aeroplan number to the travel agency at the time of purchase,” he says. “At the airport, I was told me that the ticket didn’t qualify to earn points.”
Was Robertson out of luck? Well, I’ve tried to mediate cases like this in the past, and I usually fail. The travel agent or airline inevitably points to some obscure fare rule that says miles aren’t included. And that’s it.
Not this time.
Robertson decided to dispute the full amount of his ticket with Visa.
At the time I purchased the ticket, I expected to receive Aeroplan mileage credit from Singapore Airlines. Because it was an E-Ticket (copy attached) there are no flight coupons; however there is nothing on the E-Ticket to indicate that Aeroplan miles would not be awarded.
Visa’s answer: no. So Robertson phoned a supervisor, who asked him to resubmit his paperwork.
I convinced the bank which issued my Visa card to initiate a charge back, and a temporary credit was issued. Singapore either didn’t bother responding to the chargeback (airlines, especially foreign carriers, are understaffed and lacking in staff with reasoning and language skills) or else missed the Visa-mandated response timeframe.
I got my $2,706 ticket price refunded to my credit card.
In conversations since then with other vendors about missing customer loyalty points for credit card purchases, loyalty-point representatives seemingly recognize that loyalty points are an integral part of the purchase process, and that goods-and-services charge-backs can result from failing to credit points.
I’m not entirely sure if this sets a precedent for missing-miles cases. Would a domestic carrier roll over and play dead if a dispute like this came along? Probably not. But the fact that companies recognize that loyalty points are part of the purchase may present a problem in the airline industry’s relentless effort to “unbundle” its product.
Maybe they should think twice before deleting their miles — and charging extra for them.
(Photo: caribb/Flickr Creative Commons)