As Hannibal Smith, the cigar-chomping colonel on the ’80s TV show, “The A-Team,” famously said, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
So do I. And so does Marija Jette, who contacted our own A-Team to get help when her flight was delayed by the Lufthansa strike.
Jette and her husband, both United Airlines elites, were flying on United codesharing partner Lufthansa from Hong Kong to Munich on Nov. 12. The staff in Hong Kong assured the couple they would “work something out” to get them on a flight to Paris the next morning, despite the strike.
“When these promises failed to materialize — the next flight time was ‘possibly’ available late that night on Nov. 13 — we decided not to push our luck and rented a car to drive to Paris,” she says.
Driving from Munich to Paris? That’s a little bit of a road trip after flying in from Hong Kong. But they have good places to stop for espresso on the Autobahn, ja?
Here’s the problem: According to her MileagePlus meter, she needed the miles for her Munich-Paris flight to reach her elite status for next year.
So not only did she have to pay for her own rental and keep the money for her flight to Paris, but she would miss being a gold by that much.
She appealed to United in writing. Here’s the form response:
When we have a service disruption, we will reaccommodate our customers on another flight, or in some circumstances, another airline. When this occurs, members are eligible for the mileage earnings regardless of the airline flown.
When a customer voluntarily purchases a ticket on another airline or chooses to drive, we are unable to offer MileagePlus credit for the original flight.
Whenever possible, we try to accommodate our customers’ requests and are sorry that we cannot do so in this instance. We value your business and look forward to serving you in the future.
Jette was furious.
“It seems to me that United thinks it’s fair to keep my money and the miles,” she says.
Looks that way to me, too. But we have a secret weapon: The executive contacts for United Airlines.
Our recommendation: Before giving up, try ’em.
And guess what? United had second thoughts about its denial:
Thank you for contacting our Corporate Offices. Your email to Mr. Oscar Munoz has been received and forwarded to the MileagePlus Escalation Team for immediate attention.
After further review and due to the circumstances surrounding your travel, your flight information on November 13, 2015, from Munich to Paris on Lufthansa has been credited to both accounts. You can view your activity online at http://www.united.com. Click on the “View activity since my last statement” link on the “My Account” page to view the flights.
I apologize for any inconvenience or confusion regarding the posting of your fights. We realize you have a choice of carriers, and we hope that you will continue to choose United, working toward the Premier status you desire.
Well done, United.
Of course, I would have rather seen it cover the cost of her rental car to Paris. And, reaching “gold” status will only compel her to give more of her business to United. But … all’s well that ends well.
Jette is happy. And if she’s happy, our A-Team is happy, too.