My ongoing battle over cancelled first class tickets on SWISS is a two-front war: one with with SWISS and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the second with Aeroplan.
In the case of SWISS, recall that I filed a DOT complaint in December and received a disingenuous and dishonest reply last month from SWISS.
> Read More: Disingenuous, Dishonest Response from SWISS Over DOT Complaint
I responded to SWISS on the same day, sending a detailed rebuttal back. You can read the entire correspondence here.
> Read More: Here’s My Response to SWISS and the DOT
SWISS Writes Me Back
Over a month later, SWISS has finally written me back. Here’s the letter in full:
Dear Mr. Klint,
We understand you are disappointed in the handling of the error in the Aeroplan First class award bookings on Swiss. We further regret that our original response did not meet your expectations.
As you are aware, all customers who requested First Class Aeroplan Award space on Swiss have been offered three alternatives. We trust that one of the following options will meet or minimize any impact on your travel needs.
1) Rebooking in First Class on other carriers than LX
2) Reprotection into Business Class on LX
3) Full refund of miles
We again ask for your understanding that First Class Award redemption on Swiss flights is limited to HON Circle and Senator members of airlines participating in the Miles & More program. This limitation is known throughout the industry and is clearly published. While great strides have been made to harmonize the IT solutions of the Star Alliance partners, these IT systems are not infallible and in exceptional cases (i.e. system failures) a First Class Award booking is made erroneously. As you experienced in November 2017, when an individual error is identified, published in public forums and exploited, the error is amplified drawing the attention of the involved carriers. Due to the magnitude of the exploitation in this case, Swiss was required to take appropriate action.
We respect your right to disagree or further express your disappointment, however, we ask you to do so respectfully, professionally and without malice towards individual employees. As we have replied satisfactorily to the DOT and all customers have received alternatives, we consider the matter closed.
Customer Feedback Services
Once again, the fundamental problem with this letter is that 1.) SWISS did offer first class space to Aeroplan members 2.) on multiple occasions and 3.) rules prohibiting SWISS First Class bookings are NOT “clearly” published.
Furthermore, I was not offered re-protection in SWISS business class. Instead, I was only offered a connection in Toronto with a huge layover…not practical for traveling with a toddler.
SWISS adds a new element of blame: blogs and public forums.
As you experienced in November 2017, when an individual error is identified, published in public forums and exploited, the error is amplified drawing the attention of the involved carriers. Due to the magnitude of the exploitation in this case, Swiss was required to take appropriate action.
This is a surprising admission from SWISS. They are admitting that their issue was a numbers game, not a lack of contract formation. In other words, SWISS admits it is not honoring this mistake because too many people took advantage of it…
Interestingly, I have evidence to suggest that this “magnitude of the exploitation” was actually quite limited, at least from Aeroplan bookings…
At this point, I am not sure whether a response is warranted. SWISS, at least on this level, seems unwilling to even entertain a discussion, since none of my specific questions were answered . Any response would be for the edification of the DOT officers involved in the case, not for SWISS.
So what happens here on the DOT side? The matter is just closed and eventually the DOT decides if they want to take action against Swiss (which they probably won’t anyway)?
I’m having a difficult time reading this as a “nasty” letter. What they said was accurate- an error in booking the LX F awards existed, it exploited in large quantities, and carrier took action to resolve the error. In fact, as many other bloggers noted, such booking was publicly always known as something that wasn’t supposed to be possible, and you are still calling LX nasty for doing what any sane corporation would do that stand their ground on rules. Among all things I consider to be something carriers should be flexible on, this is one that they should be able to retract and be done with, especially when everyone knew this was an error. You are so overentitled.
The Swiss are always right. (Or perhaps they are right twice a day, like a broken Swiss watch?)
1) I believe you’re thinking of the French
2) Swiss watches last forever if you take proper care of them
Your case gets stronger because you weren’t offered #2 from their list above, and i’d assume #1 was limited or not an option as well. Even though Aeroplan was the agent here, SWISS should have taken a more involved approach to ensure this was handled appropriately. It’ll take 30 minutes to write a script to scrape new PNR’s for star alliance F bookings when not permitted and then cancel immediately with a notification sent out. They failed to make the minimal investment and should be held accountable.
That same script could be used for GOV fares being given free upgrades, but that’s for a different day
What kind of comments from Swiss are you expecting? Aeroplan publishes that those awards are not bookable and they allowed them to be booked by mistake… bad customer service … yes but their recovery efforts will be viewed by DOT as acceptable in this case. I agree its messed up… but give up man…wasting too much effort for nothing.
Except I don’t believe Matthew was ever offered #1 or #2 on the menu of choices SWISS claims in its letter. IIRC, Aeroplan told him he could either take a connection on AC J through YYZ, or pound sand. That’s neither “rebooking in First Class on other carriers” or “reprotection into Business Class on LX”. Seems like a problem that they didn’t even offer what they claimed they did, though whether the fault lies with LX or Aeroplan (or both), I don’t know.
You promised to sue, so sue. Enough posts about every correspondence, just do it already. Put your money where your mouth is.
The point is to avoid suit and I’m in no hurry to do that, though I will if I don’t receive satisfactory resolution elsewhere. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Don’t forget to also claim the foregone interest on the five figure chunk of hard cash you forked out for the 3 Swiss First Class tickets for you and your family. The longer you wait, the more in interest you stand to claim!
+1 At this point all you’re doing is developing the record. And eventually LX will stop responding. Do you really want to end up talking to yourself? Just sue the motherf**kers already!
1). This appears to be a tacit admission that first class award space on SWISS was “made available” to Star Alliance partners. There is no other explanation for IT “system failures.”
2). Nowhere does SWISS dispute the fact that the proper award rate for the flight was paid in miles pursuant to its partner’s award chart.
3.) Although the DOT has allowed carriers to cancel tickets deemed to be “mistake fares,” it has always done so on the premise that the *rate* materially deviates from any comparable rate for that or similar flights on the given route and booking class. Here, the issue is not that anyone was permitted to book at a discounted rate. SWISS has never made *rate* an issue. The *mistake* in “mistake fare” is tied to the rate, not the alleged mistake in ticketing procedures. SWISS’ argument boils down to the assertion that the ticket was one it never intended to issue; notwithstanding the undisputed fact SWISS issued a ticket for the booking. That type of mistake has never been deemed a legal basis for canceling a ticketed reservation. By SWISS’ logic, if it issued two tickets (via an IT error) for the same seat on the same flight it would be justified in canceling one of the tickets and telling the passenger he or she is entitled to an inferior ticket (basic economy?) or a refund. If airlines are entitled to do that, there is no incentive to resolve so-called technical glitches or provide compensation for trip disruption which the airline alone is in a position to prevent.
Interesting development. I do not see what more you could do directly with Swiss, other than sue them. Matthew sounds like the type that would do that out of principle, but surely he knows that this would be wasteful and costly.
DOT complaint is the way to go.
I got the same canned email they must have sent to everyone who filed a DOT claim.
So Swiss has closed the matter on their end. At what point does the DOT rule on it?
I see now. You’re crowdsourcing legal arguments and data points… this is genius.
Sue, sue, sue.
Not really. He has refused to listen to take my advice, a Canadian lawyer.
I’m disappointed to see my original reply was deleted. Were you unhappy with the fact that I fail to see how this reply was a “nasty” one? Were you not happy that I considered you over-entitled?
Like other readers said, please go ahead and sue. I would love to see this play out in court rather than on blog posts where you selectively delete comments that disagree with you.
Just a quick note Jason, for any new commenters, comments have to be approved. Your comment was not deleted, just had not yet been approved as Matthew is traveling today. I have approved both, but wanted to relay that your comments weren’t actively stifled by the writers of the site, they just hadn’t been approved yet on WordPress per their protocol. That’s handled now, thank you for reading and for commenting.
Pretty sure comments are, in fact, deleted from this blog
Yes they are Larry, at my discretion.
Obviously, you can run your blog in any way you see fit — including deleting people’s comments…
@Larry: I’ve removed a portion of your comment. I’ll only say this — be careful what you assume and this blog is not the place to discuss it. But thank you for reading and most of your comments.
Yes, I have had comments deleted too.
I am still engaged on your follow ups on this topic espically you went through with buying the tickets I feel helps your case.
They properly blamed the bloggers…if there were no bloggers, there would have been a small handful of bookings and they probably would have jus honored them. Bloggers are ridiculous sometimes. Attention Bloggers: If you find a mistake fare or a mistake award..don’t blog it if you want to use it! In small batches airlines will just look the other way to avoid negative press or its just not worth their efforts. In large doses, its worth the risk since they are already taking a huge monetary loss and cancelling the tickets guarantees $$ back. I absolutely see their point. They make a small mistake and its viral before any human can see it, and the person who caught the mistake was usually out looking for it, and knew it was a mistake (as al of you did). I hate airlines.. promise I don’t work for Swiss! lol
Oy vey iz mir…
Hey Matthew, you broke?
So what happens next? Do you have to wait for a final response from DOT before initiating legal action?
FAA please. You have to reach for higher level of superiority to make them comply.
“…rules prohibiting SWISS First Class bookings are NOT “clearly” published.”
But in all honesty, could you claim in good faith that you, a person operating a blog on flying and earning/spending miles, didn’t know about that rule?
It only takes a couple of seconds to find those articles that, in substance, boil down to “book quickly. It’s an error and will be gone soon”
Aeroplan said SWISS First Class is not “available” … not “prohibited”. But suddenly SWISS opened the floodgates and it was *available*. This was not an error, but SWISS doesn’t make space available for very long so of course there was urgency.
Fair enough. At least you didn’t post for the whole internet to see that you considered a mistake. Lucky wasn’t quite as discrete writing that he was aware of the policy.
Do you think the DOT should reinstate those rules that obligated companies to honour mistake fares?
Description of the Customer Feedback Services job at Swiss: https://careers.swiss.com/index.php?ac=download_jobad_pdf&jobad_id=4178
Isn’t it obvious that there was no reply to your questions in their response? They probably just copy&pasted it as from what I can see Ben Schlappig received pretty much the same email.
Did Swiss Air suffered a loss when they issued a F award to Aeroplan compared to other FFP programs?
If they did not suffer a loss, then we do not know what the “mistake leading to damage” is, when there is none. Swiss air may feel displeasured at their F seats being offered to their Star Alliance partners, but just because some displeasure that they have, they can ignore contractual agreements?
Or is it because its Aeroplan (and hence separated from Air Canada entity – which is the real star alliance partner), and that is why Swiss Air is mocking at Aeroplan even though it was Swiss Air’s mistake. (I Swiss Air can make a mistake, but its you , Aeroplan, your stupidity to accept those bookings)
Aeroplan needs to get tough with Swiss Air, but probably they cant as they are no Air Canada (who will create their own FFP soon) which is the real star alliance partner, and probably their lawyers have gone through the contracts with LX and see they will lose.
So Aeroplan meekly surrenders, and point the fault at LX, and LX simply ignores and state the issue is between the passenger and Aeroplan.
Ultimately, the battle is between the passenger and Aeroplan, and Aeroplan’s meek behavior meant that they figured they have lost the battle with LX.
LX attittude is disgusting though. Aeroplan is just pathetic.
Sorry, perhaps I’m missing something. What exactly was “nasty” about their letter? Was it because they basically said what was true (and let’s be honest we all know its true) in that people try and exploit mistake/error fares and make it known to other people on blogs, or the fact that you didn’t like that they called you out on you trying to single out employees because you didn’t like their response to you?
We get it; you jumped on the fact that LX had released F seats to Aeroplan (which it ordinarily doesn’t). You booked tickets, they figured it out, and started cancelling the bookings which included yours. You didn’t like it, you feel you were done wrong, talk about how you are going to file a lawsuit, and have been whining about it going so far as booking revenue F and expecting a refund. You’ve written them letters, then posted it and complained because you didn’t like their response.
Essentially at this point, I’m taking LX as pretty much telling you that you are pushing it and also losing credibility about how you are dragging this on and making a big deal about this. Complain once, ok fine get it off your chest. Talk about how you are going to file a lawsuit and posting letters and singling out employees….hmm maybe not the brightest of things but ok whatever. Continue on and on about it, LX may be getting a little perturbed over it and you run the risk of poking the bear and losing the opportunity to collect on any reimbursement/compensation etc.
I’m just thinking you may get further with LX on this if you would just resolve it with them on the side and update us all later, than continuing on over and over again, and publically posting about how LX did you wrong. I’m not saying what they did was right, and maybe they really should honor the bookings….but you seem to run the risk of just pissing off the wrong people.
I was going to write a reply, but thank you for doing it for me.
LX came across far more professional, and concise, than the overblown (and oversized) “correspondence” from this blogger. From an optics perspective, the latter has already lost.
Not sure what he expected.
Getting pro-bono lawyers included? That’s called ego-ratting, and I can only guarantee you neither this blogger, nor those offering their services, will go through with such an endeavor.
I consider this case closed too. But if another post or 2 or 3 on this gets more storyline in (i.e. clicks), then good for this blogger. More power to them. But let’s just be realistic about what “this” is at this point.
Whats going on now? Have you responded to Swiss? Is Aeroplan in contact with you still?