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Old Aug 19, 10, 7:15 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: The World
Posts: 212
Airmiles redemption on Westjet -- Airmiles scamming?

I just booked a flight using Airmiles on Westjet and - oh my goodness, how freakin' expensive!

I was surprised that flight availability was pretty decent, but when the agent told me the "fees and taxes" I'd have to pay, my jaw dropped. They totalled to about 40% of what it would cost if I was to just buy a ticket instead!

I challenged him on it, and he claimed that (other than Airmiles' booking fee of 25 bucks, for the privilege of speaking to him on the phone) the rest were all "taxes and things like security fees". But it was far, far, far more than what you'd pay in taxes and fees if you just bought a ticket!

Frankly it all sounded quite made up. I have a hunch that a good portion of those "taxes" they charged me are actually revenue for Airmiles. It sounds like a cash grab on their part. If true, it's pretty questionable if they're claiming their own charges to be "taxes" or "fees" -- giving the impression that the charges are from gov't, etc, when they're not.

Anyone else have similar experiences with Airmiles? Are their charges legit, or are they a cash grab?
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Old Aug 19, 10, 9:03 pm   #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: yyj
Programs: Alaska Airlines MVP, Fairmont FPC Platinum, Starwood Gold, Hilton Gold
Posts: 754
I agree 100%. The taxes quoted are always much higher than what they should be.
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Old Aug 20, 10, 9:28 am   #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada AC Elite, SPG Plat, CO Onepass Gold
Posts: 61
Air Miles is well marketed, but it's really not a great program. Borders on "pointless" if you'll pardon the pun. As has been posted here before, Air Miles is at their worst when you try to redeem their points for flights. Somewhat ironic given their name and branding.

The experience in a nutshell:

  • No internet booking. It's 2010, and they must be the only air-travel-booking-organization on the planet who has zero online booking or searching capability for customers. Archaic, and ridiculous.
  • What makes it even more frustrating: you therefore need to phone their call centre, which (in my experience) is typically a very long wait. Sit down and get comfortable, and prepare to enjoy on-hold music.
  • Then, as the OP stated, you'll have to fork out a $25 fee for the privilege of talking to them on the phone.
  • Book your flight (at their ever increasing points levels) and you'll then be asked to fork out major $$$, ostensibly for taxes. As the OP said though, the math doesn't add up.
  • Then, get ready for the insurance sales pitch. High pressure, and pushy: "Well, virtually all of our customers take the insurance" is seemingly part of their rejection-handling script that they read. This is likely why they force their customers to phone in for a flight: they make big $ off of the $25 phone-in fee, probably more from padding the taxes, and then make big $$$ off of selling insurance. (The hard core insurance sell can't take place on a web booking engine, which is probably why they've avoided going with online booking.)

I no longer go out of my way to collect Air Miles. When I do get them, I won't even try to use them for flights. Just get some retailer gift cards instead.
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Old Aug 20, 10, 1:24 pm   #4
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: London, Ontario
Posts: 4,971
I've been racking up the mileage for a family trip to Florida. All of their taxes and fees for YYZ-FLL are almost as much as just paying for DTW-FLL, and I'd still have my 8000 miles. I can cash those in for $1000 in Rona cards to build my new backyard shed, and I'm thinking that's more value for me.
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Old Aug 20, 10, 9:12 pm   #5
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: BC, Canada
Posts: 278
I fully agree, the insurance is way too high, but if you don't purchase the ins. and have to cancel the flight, you lose all your air miles.
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Old Aug 21, 10, 1:56 am   #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada AC Elite, SPG Plat, CO Onepass Gold
Posts: 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elli View Post
I fully agree, the insurance is way too high, but if you don't purchase the ins. and have to cancel the flight, you lose all your air miles.
I don't think anybody here is complaining about the cost of the insurance. (My concern was how they sell it: overly agressive, and reeking of heavily incented tele-sales agents.)

But if we're talking trip insurance, well, IMHO, the kind of insurance that AM is peddling is a suckers bet. Insure a $20K family cruise that you book 2 years in advance and paid for in cash? Yes. But pay my hard-earned money to insure a couple thousand 'frequent shopper' points from AM? Nope, not me. I'll take my chances.

Anyhoo, the concerns raised here are about all of the other allegedly mandatory fees and taxes that AM tacks on to a reward flight, the stupidly high $ cost of getting a 'free' flight from Air Miles, and whether or not all of those charges that AM hits you with are 'legit'.
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Old Aug 21, 10, 1:08 pm   #7
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 518
Quote:
Originally Posted by YYC Guy View Post
Air Miles is well marketed, but it's really not a great program. Borders on "pointless" if you'll pardon the pun. As has been posted here before, Air Miles is at their worst when you try to redeem their points for flights. Somewhat ironic given their name and branding.

The experience in a nutshell:

  • No internet booking. It's 2010, and they must be the only air-travel-booking-organization on the planet who has zero online booking or searching capability for customers. Archaic, and ridiculous.
  • What makes it even more frustrating: you therefore need to phone their call centre, which (in my experience) is typically a very long wait. Sit down and get comfortable, and prepare to enjoy on-hold music.
  • Then, as the OP stated, you'll have to fork out a $25 fee for the privilege of talking to them on the phone.
  • Book your flight (at their ever increasing points levels) and you'll then be asked to fork out major $$$, ostensibly for taxes. As the OP said though, the math doesn't add up.
  • Then, get ready for the insurance sales pitch. High pressure, and pushy: "Well, virtually all of our customers take the insurance" is seemingly part of their rejection-handling script that they read. This is likely why they force their customers to phone in for a flight: they make big $ off of the $25 phone-in fee, probably more from padding the taxes, and then make big $$$ off of selling insurance. (The hard core insurance sell can't take place on a web booking engine, which is probably why they've avoided going with online booking.)

I no longer go out of my way to collect Air Miles. When I do get them, I won't even try to use them for flights. Just get some retailer gift cards instead.
I've been trying to book flights on aeroplan.com all morning. The site has been up and down more times today than the elevator at Macy's and when it is up, it is slower than snail on valium!

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Old Aug 21, 10, 3:43 pm   #8
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Programs: Amex Platinum, CX Gold, SPG Gold, Hertz 5*, Hyatt Platinum
Posts: 8,834
You are paying taxes AND fuel surcharges...same as on an aeroplan redemption. They don't charge the fuel surcharge (or it's included) on revenue bookings.
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Old Aug 21, 10, 8:35 pm   #9
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend and Moderator: Air Canada Aeroplan, Mileage Run & Manufactured Spending
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: YEG
Posts: 40,728
A scam? It sure wouldn't be one that lasted long as all anyone had to do would be to compare the tax ladder on their award E-ticket with what the IATA tax codes are on a paid fare.

FWIW I learned the same lesson once years ago and haven't booked another ticket since as I too order retailer GC's for gifts or splurges for myself.
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Old Aug 21, 10, 10:46 pm   #10
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Richmond, BC
Posts: 660
Quote:
Originally Posted by Altaflyer View Post
You are paying taxes AND fuel surcharges...same as on an aeroplan redemption. They don't charge the fuel surcharge (or it's included) on revenue bookings.
Exactly. I've compared an AC Aeroplan reward booking and one using Airmiles, they are within a $ or two other than the $25 booking fee. I don't use Airmiles much, but when I do it is usually to redeem for gift cards and such.
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Old Aug 24, 10, 7:43 pm   #11
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: YVR
Programs: HH Gold, Hyatt Diamond, Marriott Gold, National EE, Sixt Platinum, Hertz PC
Posts: 1,060
Interesting to see this thread here... I recently booked a flight YVR-LAS. The taxes and fees jumped $42 from what I was quoted a couple days earlier.. I was told by the AM rep that this happens sometimes. I thought this was odd... so I did a bit of digging. All of the fees that AM charge are the same as WJ with 2 exceptions.. $25 booking fee, which we're all aware of, and a $55 NAV/INS/Fuel fee.. which is $40 more than WJ's $15 NAV fee. I asked about this, was told the $40 is for a Fuel Surcharge. I think.. hmm.. WJ doesn't have a Fuel Surcharge. So I call them up and ask if Air Miles pay them a Fuel Surcharge when they buy tickets. The WJ rep says no.. they haven't had a charge in years.. and this is just another way for AM to 'ding' you.

I've asked AM about this.. awaiting a reply.

Ron.
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Old Aug 24, 10, 9:16 pm   #12
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada
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Posts: 8,834
Unfortunately WS reps are not always in the know on such things.
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Old Aug 24, 10, 11:53 pm   #13
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend and Moderator: Air Canada Aeroplan, Mileage Run & Manufactured Spending
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: YEG
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Altaflyer View Post
Unfortunately WS reps are not always in the know on such things.
Agreed as well meaning and friendly as WS staff usually are and since the switch to Sabre there are more things unknown more often.
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Old Aug 26, 10, 12:04 am   #14
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: YYJ
Programs: Aeroplan
Posts: 16
So, I am not crazy!

I thought I was the only one who noticed this.

We booked YYC-YYJ roundtrip for two people in March, and the total came out to be only around 1900 AirMiles which is not that bad! But in total, we had to pay out over $450.00. And our flight connected through Kelowna ...which was late by three hours ...just not a good experience.

While we were foolish for even thinking of buying it for that much money, especially when we could have flown direct and paid that much, we were not happy with AirMiles! From now on, we just pay for our hotels by redeeming for the gift certificates.

I'll stick to Aeroplan for now!
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Old Aug 26, 10, 7:11 am   #15
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend and Moderator: Air Canada Aeroplan, Mileage Run & Manufactured Spending
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: YEG
Posts: 40,728
Quote:
Originally Posted by kylejaymes View Post
I'll stick to Aeroplan for now!
Yeah, their taxes, surcharges & fees are so much lower.

Please list your AP Taxes and SURCHARGES on AP reward tickets

AC's fuel surcharge now exceeds 500%(YYZ), 630%(YVR)

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