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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Berlin postscript on getting United miles

I got a United-branded credit card for the main purpose of getting the 50,000-mile bonus, so Margaret or I can aim to have a free trip to Italy. I got it after my United flight to Germany was booked and, given that a $600 voucher was applied to the flight, I was willing to spend a little money to get some extra comfort and have United charges with triple miles on my credit card.

So I got Premier Travel Plus for my Chicago-Frankfurt flight. Its benefits of a fast line for check-in and security weren't relevant to me on this connecting flight, so tossing those out, the benefit optionss were:

Premier Travel: Economy Plus seating with Group 1 boarding, and 25% bonus miles.

Premier Travel Plus: Economy Plus seating with Group 1 boarding, a pass to the Red Carpet Club, and 100% bonus miles.

I had my confirmation of the Premier Travel Plus purchase, and I saw that at the time of the purchase, before the flight, I got a mileage bonus that was 25% of the miles of the trip. I thought that was curious, but maybe the rest would be credited after I took the flight. I had a slight doubt about whether I'd actually been acknowledged with the Plus version, but it was on my boarding pass and I was admitted to the Club on the day of the flight.

I completed the trip, and got the base miles for all flights, but no additional Premier Travel Plus miles. A little over a week after my return, I sent an e-mail to Mileage Plus about the missing miles. There was a warning on the form that it could take a week to get a reply; it was close to that, and the reply included "According to the Terms and Conditions of the Premier Travel Plus, 25% mileage bonus will be accrued by the traveler who purchased this offer," and I received what was due. This when the Web site is very clear: 25% for Premier Travel, 100% for Premier Travel Plus. I replied to that, linking to their FAQ that makes that clear. Another week and no e-mail reply; I needed to phone. I called and got routed around five people, I think, who could have been in many parts of the world. One person talked about Premier status with the program, another said something like "If all Economy Plus seats are taken, you can't get one," neither of which had anything to do with what I was asking. The last agent put me on hold for some time, then acknowledged that I was right and would get the miles credited. The total call took about 50 minutes.

It took all this to get the miles that their site says very plainly should be owed. A major corporation evidently didn't have the system programmed right to give what should be straightforward. I hope their flight navigation programs are done better than this.