All Julie Pavlin wanted was her miles. She’d booked a ticket on South African Airways (SAA) with the understanding that her United Airlines account would be credited through its code share partnership.
(You’re probably expecting a rant about code sharing. Please accept this paragraph as a placeholder. I will not debate those of you who feel these programs are good for consumers. You are wrong, I am right. On with the story.)
“I carefully read the rules on mileage accrual on SAA, especially for premier qualifying,” she says.
(You’re probably expecting another rant about loyalty programs. No such luck today. You’re wrong, I’m right. Let’s get on with it, please.)
“I purchased a Q fare, which should have provided 100 percent premier qualifying miles,” she says. “I also verified this on the SAA website for my particular itinerary, which didn’t list a fare code, and with the itinerary that United sent that stated I would receive 100 percent of the miles.”
You can probably guess where this is going. They only gave her half the promised miles.
Why? United explains:
We are unable to process your request for additional miles. We show that you purchased your ticket through United but the flight was operated by South African Airlines.
The fare class “Q” that you purchased through United translates into fare class “L” on South African Airlines.
The award miles accrued on code share flights are based on the operating carrier and their equivalent fare class. This could result in differences between the purchased booking class and the booking class flown, which determines the number of Premier qualifying miles and Premier qualifying segments earned.
That explanation doesn’t sit well with Pavlin.
“They should honor the miles promised,” she says.
Well, I agree. I may not be a fan of code sharing or loyalty programs, but a promise is a promise.
Fortunately, we have researcher Sebastien Almon, who has gone to the trouble of finding the South African Airways executive contacts. Pavlin needs to take this up with SAA, which was responsible for setting the codes.
I have a policy of not getting involved in mileage disputes, but I wish Pavlin the best of luck. And hopefully, these contacts for SAA will prevent future misunderstandings between customers who want mileage credit for their flights and the airlines determined not to give it to them.