Tatyana made me promise not to post this until we were all back safe and sound from our vacation…
Less than 2.5 days before she was scheduled to board her Alaska Airlines flight en route to Cancun, Tatyana called me with a crisis.
Tatyana’s Phone Call
She had been on the phone with Delta for over an hour and they were telling her she didn’t have a ticket. She only called them because AeroMexico could not find her ticket number when she called to get a seat assignment. What happened was that her flight back from Mexico City to Los Angeles got cancelled and this caused problems with her entire AeroMexico itinerary.
Tatyana had booked a Business Class ticket with Delta Skymiles:
- Outbound leg: February 15: Leave at 1 am on Alaska Airlines to Mexico city connecting to an AeroMexico flight arriving in Cancun at 10:45 am.
- Return leg: February 19: Leave at 2:40 on AeroMexico connecting another AeroMexico flight arriving in Los Angeles at 8:50 pm.
Previously, her stop in Mexico City was about an hour. But the flight she had from Mexico City to Los Angeles was cancelled and they wanted to rebook her on a flight 3 hours later. That’s all they had available in the class she booked with miles. She’d be arriving in Los Angeles at midnight with work the next day!
Miles Professor to the rescue!
I told her to tell the agent that wasn’t acceptable and they need to give her the most convenient flights they have, award space or not. In the meantime, I did a quick check myself.
I found that United Mileage Plus had a direct flight from Cancun back to Los Angeles for 17.5k United miles and immediately put that on hold. It was very convenient and left at 6 arriving at 9. This flight wasn’t available when we were looking for Tatyana’s tickets initially, but availability tends to open up a few days before departure. Normally, booking a ticket a week in advance will incur a $75 close-in ticketing fee. But I don’t need to pay this since I am 1K this year.
At that point, the Delta agent had found for Tatyana a ticket going through Atlanta leaving at 12:30 pm and getting in at 8 pm. Much better than the lengthy Mexico City layover she was originally offered, but it’s still almost 10 hours of flying and would make her leave the beach before noon! Not a good way to end a relaxing vacation. I told her to ask the agent if they could refund her half the ticket cost of 30,000 miles and keep her routing to Cancun. The agent said no. I said it’s ok, I’ll take care of it.
I checked which flights were still available on SkyTeam, knowing I could book one-way trips with AirFrance Flying Blue. I had already booked Samba for Miles flights on AeroMexico connecting in Mexico City to Cancun. It turned out there was still availability on Samba for Miles‘s flight to Mexico City. It was good to know that option.
I then called Delta myself on my way to pick up lunch to check, again, whether they would give me back 30,000 miles and keep the flight there. Again, they said no. The only option is to cancel the whole thing; no compensation, nothing. They just get to back out of the deal. I either change to the inconvenient flight through Atlanta or cancel the whole thing. I probably could have kept calling back and seeing if I could fight this one, but I didn’t want to waste valuable time on a battle I wasn’t sure I could win and time was running out. Fine, Delta, fine!
Wrapping It Up
On my walk home, I called my Amex Platinum customer service and asked them to front me 25,000 miles and transfer them to my AirFrance FlyingBlue account. One of the best benefits of the card is the ability to do this. As a Platinum customer, you can borrow up to 60,000 miles a year and you have a year to earn them back. With this convenience, you don’t even need to collect the miles before you need them. Use them and then pay them back. I know I am due a 25,000 mile bonus soon anyway so this will be no problem. They transferred instantaneously.
I then called AirFrance Flying Blue. I gave them my flight numbers and the one-way itinerary priced out at 25,000 Flying Blue miles in Business Clss, as expected. As I was in the elevator heading up to my apartment, I gave them my Amex Platinum card number to pay the taxes on the flight and had everything booked before I walked in my front door. I walked over to my laptop and booked the direct United flight to LAX I had put on hold earlier. I forwarded everything to Tatyana. Done! Thank you, Amex Platinum card, FlyingBlue and United!
Coming from three different cities (New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles) and four different routes to Cancun, we somehow all ended up taking United flights back.
Final score: Delta 0, United 4
- Two days before departure, things went wrong with Tatyana’s itinerary to Cancun when AeroMexico canceled her flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles.
- With Delta not giving us any good options, we canceled the Delta SkyMiles ticket and booked with other programs.
- We transferred 25,000 Amex Membership Rewards points to AirFrance Flying Blue for a Business Class ticket on AeroMexico to Cancun connecting through Mexico City. We used 17,500 United Mileage Plus miles for a direct flight from Cancun to Los Angeles.
- Tatyana had a relaxing and fun vacation at the Valentin Imperial Maya in Playa del Carmen