Friday, August 13, 2010

On Reclaiming Frequent Flyer Miles

I don't spend a nickel, if I can help it, unless it somehow profits my mileage account. Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) in "Up in the Air"

To the City of Chicago,
As the evening shadows fall,
There are people dreaming,
Of the hills of Donegal. City of Chicago

I was checking my frequent flyer programs earlier this year. I thought I'd use some of them - I am in half a dozen programs - for some useless piece of clutter that they have in their cyber stores. Something that I can end up throwing out, or storing in the broken microwave above the stove. Like the breakfast-maker that simultaneously poaches toast and toasts eggs.

I came upon one program where I had been sure that I had heaps of miles. Perhaps I could get a LED TV, I was thinking.

And so I was horrified to see that I had accumulated well over 77,000 miles, but only had 435 that I could actually use. I called the airline's frequent flyer club - let's keep it anonymous - I'll call it "BB Rewards" - and asked why was this - why were my most of miles unavailable?

The customer service rep was quite helpful (she wasn't called Jason) and explained that your mile-points become inactive when you haven't flown BB for X amount of time. She told me I could get my mile-points back. I could either apply for a BB credit card that had a $85 annual fee, or earn X more miles before the end of the year.

Well I wasn't born every minute so I told her I'd try to fly BB, hopefully this year.

Chicago, June 2008
As luck would have it I had occasion to go to Chicago a couple of times between May and July. New York to Chicago isn't very far, and a bit of arithmetic told me it was not enough to re-gain my points.

But I didn't give up. I decided to get BB Advantage to make an exception. I was going to make whoever I was dealing with, want to get rid of me ASAP.

I prepared carefully. I practiced some bad grammar, and saying 'lady' instead of 'woman' and not talking in complete sentences. Then I phoned.

Once connected to the BB Advantage rep I explained that earlier in the year I had checked and found most of my miles were gone. While the rep was looking up my file I prattled on like a fool.

"Where d'you think the miles went?" I asked. "When I called earlier this year like a nice lady said if I took a few trips with BB I could like get my miles back, and so I did. I did what she told me to. I went to Chicago twice like - specially to get my miles back but they are still like gone. I don't understand," I babbled.

I could hear her sighing, but I have to give her credit. Her patience was commendable. She explained the system and then said that going to Chicago twice didn't earn me enough miles."

"Oh," I responded, "does that mean I have to go to Chicago AGAIN?"

"No," she said. I noticed she was speaking very slowly, as if I were deaf, or just plain stupid. "I will make an exception and make it so you have enough qualifying miles. I am doing it right now?"

"Thank you," I said. "But I have like another question. How will the miles like know that you added more to them and how will it happen that they will like turn into real miles? Like."

I knew I was stretching it, but I couldn't help it. I wanted to hear her sigh again.

Which she did.


Unknown said...

Nice one Kate, I have missed your little stories.

Jaded NYer said...


You handled this perfectly.

I'm very proud of you. : )

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