Miles and Points for Travel Inconveniences?

Have you ever been on a flight that caused you to misconnect your next flight or ever stayed at a hotel where the air conditioning did not work as it should? It occurred to me today that we’ve acquired a decent number of hotel points and airline miles through contacting customer service departments after something went wrong on a flight or during a hotel stay and that there are probably lots of people out there who do not turn this negative experience into a positive.

I’ll give a recent example on how we’ve managed to acquire additional miles through an unfortunate experience. During our flight home from London in May, the in-flight entertainment stopped working about one third of the way through the flight. The flight attendants were great and tried tirelessly to get it working again. But they just weren’t able to get it started. It was a bit disappointing to us as we were in economy with no real possibility of sleep and no real entertainment with us. But, we managed. When we returned I wrote a short note to the American Airlines customer service department through their online message center. Within 24 hours I received a response apologizing for the problem and offering us 5,000 AA miles per passenger for our inconvenience. We were a travelling family of four along with my sister and her family of four, making us eight passengers who each got 5,000 miles. That’s 40,000 miles for a minor inconvenience on a flight.

Here are a couple of key pieces of information should you find yourself in a similar situation:

  1. Do not contrive a negative experience. For the most part, airlines and hotels are aware when something goes awry and you do not want to be flagged as “one of those people.”
  2. Make sure you identify any positive aspects of your experience so they know that you aren’t just one of those people who complain about everything.
  3. Be sure to include your record locator or reservation number so they can verify that you were, in fact, part of that negative experience.
  4. Let them know that you are a loyal customer and would appreciate anything they can do to offset the negative experience you encountered.
  5. Keep it short and sweet. Unless it was a terrible experience that requires a lot of information, there really is no need to get wordy.

The point is that these things happen all the time. While they may not ruin your trip or cause you to miss an important meeting, they still have some affect on your in-flight/hotel stay experience and most airlines and hotels want to make sure they aren’t going to lose you as a customer. Giving out a few miles can go a long way towards acquiring or retaining a customer and is a small price for them to pay. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of that, even if the inconvenience isn’t major!


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