Should airline extend elite benefits for soldier in war zone?

Shutterstock

Airlines offer waivers of their often incomprehensible rules all the time. Robert Lytle wants this to be one of the times, and he’d like me to help him make it so.

I’m sympathetic to his case, even though it involves a mileage program, elite status and benefits that are of questionable value. It’s the principle, really. Lytle is with the National Guard, deployed in a combat zone. His social media profile lists him near the horn of Africa.

His experience makes me wonder if airline policies might not be accommodating enough to the men and women in uniform.

Here’s the story so far: Just before being deployed, Lytle earned Silver status on US Airways. Then he found out he wouldn’t be able to enjoy any of the “perks” because he was shipping off into a war zone. He wondered if US Airways would extend his status as a one-time courtesy.

“I have been trying to communicate with US Airways for several months,” he explains. “But I keep getting a runaround. I have faxed, emailed, and tweeted. I can’t seem to get access to a decision-maker and have only been told that there is not currently a policy covering my request.”

He adds, “I would just like to speak to someone who can tell me that they’ve considered making a policy – even if the answer is no.”

Seems like a reasonable request to me.

Let’s have a look at his paper trail.

Here’s his original inquiry:

I am writing to request deferment of my Silver Dividend Miles status for one year due to military deployment.

I am a somewhat new (but regular) customer, having increasingly begun to use your company for my travel in the past couple years since I moved to the DC area.

A few months ago I was excited to finally earn Silver status and began to enjoy the benefits of the program. At around the same time, however, I learned that I was being activated through the reserves for an overseas combat tour. I am currently writing from that location.

Unfortunately, my year-long tour coincides almost exactly with the period of time I would have been eligible to use my Dividend Miles status.

Not only will I not enjoy the benefits, but I will not be doing any travel that would help me maintain status through the next year. In effect, I am losing out on two years of Silver (or higher) benefits due to this deployment.

For this reason I am inquiring if there is any way to defer the benefit until the next program year, when I will be back home and ready to travel (out of uniform!).

Airlines routinely waive rules for members of the military, so this doesn’t seem like a big ask.

The answer? A boilerplate “no.”

Preferred membership is based on flying Preferred Miles or Preferred Segments during the calendar year, January 1st – December 31st. Accounts are set back to zero at the beginning of the new calendar year when qualification starts over. Please be aware that your current Preferred benefits are in place through February 28, 2015.

We do not have a policy that extends or postpones Preferred status or benefits beyond the benefit year that you qualified for.

Thank you for your Military Service.

Lytle tried to appeal to US Airways via web-based chat. The results were even more infuriating. Here’s what happened after he explained everything.

Lytle: Can you have someone contact me? Tried the generic forms with no luck, would like to talk to someone in leadership.

US Airways: Customer Relations will respond to your email. They’re the team to work with on feedback regarding policies.

Lytle: Clearly they are not. I’m sorry but I have been trying for months, from a combat zone, to resolve this. Very disappointed.

US Airways: We’re sorry for your disappointment in the response from Customer Relations.

Lytle: If you are truly sorry, perhaps you can connect me with someone empowered to make decisions. That’s all I am asking.

US Airways: You can reach out to Customer Relations for a second look at your request.

Lytle: This is getting insulting. Why would repeating the same runaround process be at all helpful? Please just help me talk to someone.

US Airways: We’re sorry you’re not happy with the response.

Don’t you love those scripted responses?

Now, I’m not saying that Lytle deserves to have his so-called “benefits” extended by another year. On reflection, I’m not sure US Airways would be doing him any favors. What I do think is that he should be able to find someone high enough in the organization to listen to his request and offer more than a form rejection.

I do list the names and numbers of the executives on my site, but I’m not at all convinced they’d do anything more than route the requests back to “Customer Service.”

So should I take up Lytle’s case and get him that answer, even if it is most likely a “no,” or should I allow US Airways’ rejection to stand?

Should I mediate Robert Lytle's case with US Airways?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend