If US Airways and American Airlines do end up merging, I hope the good folks at the US Airways call centers do not lose their positions. I depend on them to get my jollies…
I just have to share one of today’s calls with you–
AGENT (with thick Southern drawl): Can I help you make a new Dividend Miles reservation?
ME: Yes, please–I’m tyring to book a round-trip from Boston to Bangkok. I was speaking to another agent about space earlier so if you’d like I can read you back the routing that we found.
AGENT: Did y’all hold it?
ME: No, sadly we do not.
AGENT: Oh durn it!
ME: That’s okay–I’ve got all the fight numbers written down. The first flight will be from Boston to Munich on Lufthansa in business class on April 04th.
AGENT: I know the code for Boston, but have you got this Munich code?
ME: Mike – Uniform – Charlie
AGENT: Oh, Moon-itch. I’ve heard of that. Sure, I can get you that flight, the one leaving at 8:20p?
ME: Yes, Lufthansa 425. Next, will be a Thai flight from Munich to Bangkok departing late in the day.
AGENT: Thai. Hmm. Let’s see. Now what is their code?
ME: T – G
AGENT: Oh thanks! And do you know the code for Bangkok?
ME: Bravo – Kilo – Kilo
AGENT: Great. Here it is. Yup, I can get you this flight too, Thai Airways 925 leaving at 9:50p.
ME: Let’s get this reservation set-up now before your system times out.
AGENT: That’s ok, let’s just get the return flights booked.
ME: Okay. The return will be from Bangkok to Washington via Vienna on Austrian Airways deaprting on April 16th, followed by Washington to Boston on United Airlines on April 17th.
AGENT: Okay. Let’s see what we’ve got here.
[silence for two minutes]
ME: Have you found the space?
AGENT: Still looking
ME: The code for Austrian is O – S.
AGENT: Oh, that’s it. Thank you! I thought it would be something like AA or something.
ME: American Airlines must have beat them to it…
AGENT: That’s funny sir! Ok, where did you say the first flight goes to?
ME: Vienna, Victor – India – Echo. OS 26 to Vienna.
AGENT: Got it. Yup, here’s the flight. Austrian Airlines 26 operated by Ti-ro-lean Airways Tyro-ler Luff-fart (Tyrolean Airways Tiroler Luftfahrt GMBH). Then where?
ME: From Vienna to Washington Dulles, India – Alpha – Delta on April 17th.
AGENT: Ha! Thanks sir, I do know that code. Is that on OS again?
ME: Yes ma’am. OS 93.
AGENT: I got the space. That’s also operated by Ti-ro-lean Airways Tyro-ler Luff-fart.
ME: Great. The last flight will be from Dulles to Boston on United 1136, leaving at 4:56p. That flight will only have X class space on it.
AGENT: I found the flight but it only has economy class on it.
ME: Yes, that’s fine.
AGENT: Okay, what’s your Dividend Miles number?
[I provided by the info requested and the passenger name]
AGENT: Do you want to book this now or put it on hold?
ME: Hold please.
AGENT: Okay, one moment…aw, shucks. You were right. My system timed out. Ah drat, we are going to have to start over again. I lost it all.
[After painfully putting the award trip together, segment by segment, the reservation was built]
AGENT [after repeating flight details]: Okay, this award is going to be 100K round-trip.
ME [surprised]: Oh, okay. How do you figure that?
AGENT: Well, Bangkok is in Thailand, which is one of your Eastern European countries right?
ME: Thank you.
AGENT: No, thank you sir for doing the work for me. I’m sorry we lost the space but I’m glad I was able to get it back for you. Thanks for calling US Airways.
Funny, when Lucky calls Bangkok is always part of “The China.”
And I always help them route via GRU and JNB to BKK, but that’s just me. And then call back to add 3 stopovers.
@Gary–If it were me traveling, that sounds like a great routing–good ol’ US. I’m sure going to miss them!
“Eastern Europe” Heh. Not sure if that’s better than what the agent probably meant…. “Thailand? Oh, that’s one of them [sic] countries by Japan and the I-rack [sic] and where that Kate Middleton girl lives, right?”
I would LOVE to see the maps provided to the US CSRs. They must be pretty.
Several months ago US Airways moved Egypt into the “Africa” region (previously it was considered “Middle East.”). At the time I had a first class LH award on hold from GRU to CAI (roundtrip), which would have been 150K. The change happened before I purchased the ticket, though, and the price jumped to 180K. I sent an email inquiring (NOT COMPLAINING) why US considered this change necessary, seeing as to how Egypt was not only “more Middle East than Africa,” but also most other airlines either considered Egypt “Middle East” or put it in both regions and allowed you to choose the more advantageous one.
A couple of months later — after I had cancelled my booking and forgotten about the whole subject — I received a letter from a US customer rep telling me, in very, very terse words, that Egypt was in Africa and the Middle East is not even a continent, so how could Egypt be in it. After giving me a lesson in geography — the fact that US does consider the Middle East a region notwithstanding — he closed by saying, “I hope I was of assistance to you.”
So, yeah, not only are most US agents geography impaired, they don’t even look at (or understand) their own charts. Sadly, I’ve never been able to take advantage of this to get them to ticket Egypt at 150K. This is one that they always check, for some reason. I think there must be a memo in BOLD at the top of their screens or something!!
Hilarious! Almost like a schtick piece. Bottom line though is that I don’t mind helping the agent do his/her work as long as the process moves forward to the goal. I actually breath a sigh of relief when I hear such a voice come on the line, I know that we’re going to work good together. LOL. Stay humorous yourself and play along. The agent, so it sounds, was friendly and helpful, i.e. not reading from the rule book and trying to find reasons to block this or that. I have found over the years that in the main USAirways phone agents are friendly, courteous and easy to book with.
She sounds like a real sweetheart. I’ve had worse experiences in customer service with people who had no sense of humor at all.
Haha! I love the CSA’s at the Preferred desk… booked a UA/LH business award to Berlin the other day with flight numbers at hand and the agent thanked me for “doing my homework” and even asked if I was a member of FlyerTalk.
Too bad US just devalued its own award chart, no more 60K off peak Envoy awards to Europe:
Do US agents manually input the miles needed based on their own knowledge of geography? I did the US to Dubai, onto Bangkok, and back to the US in Business with four other 24 hours stops and they only charged me 90K I guess for North Asia. South Asia or the Middle East should have been 120K, but I just said thank you as well.
same question for me
how does the stopover affect the miles if in another region
@Randy and Adam: Indeed prices are manually calculated and inputed. According to program rules, a stopover in a higher-priced region would trigger a higher priced award, but this is rarely enforced. Agents generally don’t even use the furthest point from your destination as your turnaround point.
Say you want to go to Hong Kong and Bangkok from New York. Tell them your destination is Hong Kong and you want to stopover in Bangkok on the return and you will be charged 90K miles. Tell them your destination is Bangkok and you want to stop over in Hong Kong and you will be charged 120K–the flights will be identical.
It’s all about the agent and how well you convincing you can be to the agent. Most are totally geographically ignorant.
Been waiting on line now for over an hour to talk to a USAIR rep. Called earlier today, and waited 45 minutes. Called AA and got right through but because ticket purchased through USAIR, she advised I call them back. I hope they go out of business!!!!
As far as geography goes……the agents do need more training. When booking international travel with miles there are so many rules and regulations governed by the countries governments, airline consortiums and the airlines themselves. Booking mileage is very complicated. I worked for America West before they took over US Air and then US Air, now I am an American agent. Each time policies, procedures, regulations and attitudes changed.