Yesterday, after learning that my SWISS First Class tickets from Zurich to Los Angeles had been cancelled, I quickly issued a legal threat. My point was not to be unnecessarily combative, but to underscore the seriousness of this matter and that unilateral cancellations will not be accepted. My hope remains that this issue can be solved quickly and amicably for all.
Threats can serve a valuable purpose, but today I’ll try something different: a plea to Aeroplan to honor what it confirmed and ticketed.
Something happened early Thursday morning. SWISS generally does not release first class award space to partners, but suddenly space became widely available over a number of days to many destinations. With that space released to StarNet, the inventory system in which Star Alliance carriers pull partner award space from, suddenly this space showed up on Aeroplan. It also showed up via other booking channels like Lufthansa Miles & More, United MileagePlus, and ANA Mileage Club.
This was not a “mistake” fare. Instead, this space was offered at published/standard pricing. Many tickets were issued, with miles deducted and credit cards charged for government taxes and fees.
Yesterday, however, these reservations began to disappear in the SWISS system. To this point, no one can explain what happened. Who initiated the cancellations and why? Why were customers not contacted before their reservations were unilaterally cancelled? Why do reservations still show as intact on Aeroplan but SWISS claims there is no longer a reservation?
These are all questions that must be answered and will be answered. Whatever happened, I think it is safe to say it was not Aeroplan who cancelled or wanted to cancel these reservations.
Aeroplan’s Important Choice
But in the meantime, Aeroplan can approach this in two ways. It can be an advocate for its customers or it can be a shill for Air Canada or SWISS. I hope it chooses the former over the latter.
Aeroplan may have been told by SWISS that these tickets were issued in error because it released the first class space accidentally. I hope Aeroplan will not accept that answer. Why should Aeroplan (and its customers) be penalized for SWISS releasing award space on its flight? This was still capacity-controlled seating that was already available to its own members. The only difference was that SWISS made it available to its partners…the sort of thing SWISS is supposed to do in the first place as a collegial Star Alliance member.
On the other hand, perhaps Aeroplan was told by Air Canada that it (Air Canada) was cancelling the tickets. Perhaps SWISS blamed Air Canada, stating its antiquated systems malfunctioned and issued tickets long after it pulled the first class space. Perhaps SWISS promised to send a bill for the full price of the ticket. That would place Air Canada on the hook and thus AC simply chose to cancel the ticket.
I hope Aeroplan would not accept this answer either. Once again, SWISS must be pinged when the award space is requested. If the space comes back confirmed, the booking can proceed. If not, an error message will display. The award space confirmed…SWISS released this space to Star Alliance members and should honor it.
The only way these reservations will be honored on a mass scale is if Aeroplan is willing to fight for its customers. I implore Aeroplan to take the moral high ground and work to ensure every cancelled reservation is restored. Aeroplan should prepare to sue SWISS or Air Canada (if necessary) to restore these fares.
Sometimes I wonder if this is all a juicy conspiracy. Aeroplan only has a couple years left before Air Canada resumes direct control over its loyalty program. But even now, Aeroplan cannot issue its own award tickets. Instead, all award tickets are issued on Air Canada stock.
Could it be that Air Canada willingly cancelled these tickets because it has no incentive to help Aeroplan? And if that is the case, does Air Canada really have any incentive to help customers like me who found their bookings canceled?
But if this is the case, won’t Aeroplan have an incentive to pushback hard against Air Canada?
We’ll soon find out. But in the meantime, I hope that Aeroplan is working around the clock to ensure that customers will prevail. This is a matter I would much rather see Aeroplan resolve for me than have to battle any entity in a court of law.
Please join me in tweeting to @Aeroplan a gentle request to fight for their customers.
I’m giving Aeroplan the weekend. Here’s what they told me yesterday,
“I can assure you that we are not pleased with the situation.
Our members are our priority and Aeroplan will assist affected passengers. We are investigating the situation as to what exactly happened and why these reservations were cancelled. Working with Swiss and Air Canada, we should know more about that early next week.”
I received the same note yesterday. Will post about it later today.
It surprises me that with all the bloggers and readers, that are, there does not ever appear to be a real airline insider that posts here on BoardingArea. Occasionally, Doctor of Credit seems to truly have a reliable source on the inside of the credit card industry, but I’m truly surprised that the airline industry has done such a good job on keeping their employees quiet. Think about all the Delta SkyMile employees who know about the constant stealth devaluations. None of them ever explain delta’s Position or hint at advance notice of a devaluation. I guess Flyertalk has a few insiders, but they’re generally promoted by their employer as an insider and thus writing about the program is part of their job description. So, in regards to your post, we will just speculate for a few days, until the airlines actually come out with a statement or they don’t.
Miles and More opened Swiss F too. So the glitch was also within their own program.
You’re wrong when you say SWISS must be pinged when award space is requested. It works the same as any other inventory where Air Canada receives inventory feeds from SWISS but it is not real time, but something very close. SWISS could have made a hiccup for 15 minutes, but taken hours for star alliance systems to update. Same works for OTA’s when a mistake fare is published and is generally for sale on OTA’s longer than the airline website as they take time to update inventory displays.
I’m guessing SWISS is placing 100% blame on the partners that took the award bookings and will make them pay face value for the tickets should they keep the bookings. This is sort of normal procedure among airlines when a codeshare partner screws up and fills another airline’s planes with garbage. AC/Aeroplan will probably come around here after some internal debate since they are 100% on the hook and have a better understanding of US laws.
I’m assuming most people booked these with Aeroplan miles. But are there any reports of people booking with other StarAlliance points/miles having their tickets canceled?
I booked one with United miles also.
Was the United one cancelled?
He won’t tell you for strategic reasons. Matthew plays 4D chess.
A welcome post. If nothing else, a plea for humanity and reason is called for in this case. The less than subtle threat of litigation should just enhance the plea, and give whichever party is at fault a moral reason to reinstate the tickets.
The crazy part is when I called to book Swiss business class the Areoplan Representative said she can book me in First class if I preferred. So I said sure why not. After 30min on the phone and 30CAD + miles to book the ticket she sent me the confirmation. So my question is why the Areoplan Representative who knows that Swiss First class is usually not bookable to non elite members try to pitch me First class.
An excellent data point.
Swiss (mistakenly) made the space available. Ticket were issued. Swiss later unconfirmed the booked first class tickets. I don’t know what Aeroplan can do. If Swiss does not want to honor the tickets, nothing can be done.
My reservations still show ticketed on Aeroplan. Booked ZRH-SFO in F. Go to Swiss site and showed up until I click on details and then says deleted and entire booking disappears. No notice whatsoever.
Not yet mentioned: Some folks may have transferred points from AMEX to Aeroplan (or perhaps, but less likely Chase to United) in order to book this. Such transfers are not reversible, and now a flexible currency has been converted to a less flexible one. Seems that those folks are far less than made whole if merely miles are refunded to the Aeroplan (or United) account.
Aeroplan has reportedly offered some to send miles back to AMEX.
I wrote a post earlier this week on how this is possible–
Any update on this?
Hope to have one today.
Hi-have you heard anything from Aeroplan yet?
What moral high ground? Because Aeroplan accidentally made these should NOT be available F space available to book, so now the program should shell out tens of thousand $ to fly you and your family in Swiss F?
It is clearly written in Aeroplan award information that Swiss F is NOT available to book. You all know that and hence the HURRY piece to book this when suddenly it was bookable – you know VERY WELL this should not have been hence must be hurry to take advantage of the sudden windfall…
Talk about Moral High Ground, of which, you dont seem to have any.
Now time to file law suit so you would keep your words publicize for all the world to see.