MHD and Amex Travel

Old Mar 4, 01, 5:53 am
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MHD and Amex Travel

I thought everyone would like to know I tried to book an MHD on Friday (YHZ-ORD-MEX-YHZ), with a stopover in ORD for 36 hours and was promptly told that it was illegal. (They thought it was hidden city ticketing and wouldn't listen to me that it wasn't). If I was going to insist that for this ticket I was going to be reported to Air Canada.

Unfortunately since the company that bought the assets of the one I was working for (we went into receivership) has no flexibility in where / when I can book, I won't be doing any MHD's for a while I am hoping in the end it won't be a huge problem as I plan on switching jobs soon anyway...

I just thought everyone should know in case you run into it as well.
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Old Mar 4, 01, 7:19 am
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Sorry to hear this. I know you've flown the MHD before, so how did you get the ticket back then?

Did you try to book this over the phone? You should try a second agent or to ask to speak with the agent's supervisor? If the computer gives you a legal fare, and you use all of the flight coupons in the order they were ticketed, you are not breaking any of the rules of this legal published tarrif.

Am I wrong, or are these people not working for you and your company to get the best fares possible for your travel? I would go back to the supervisor or manager on Monday and deal directly with this person, and get their reason for not doing this for you in writing. Then take it to the person in your company who controls the travel budget and demonstrate to them clearly that Amex is not acting in the best interests of your company and the account should be moved to an agency that is.

It appears this agent assumes you will dump the ORD-MEX portion and just fly the YHZ-ORD segments, thus improperly using a "hidden city" ticket, and saving money. But if you actually travel on all segments, the final destination in Mexico is no longer a "hidden city" to you because you've visited it. The "hidden city" rule is a concern because many less scrupulous types just get off the plane and throw away the balance of the unused segments. You're combining a legitimate mileage run with a unique tarrif on your next business trip.

Perhaps you should consider going to a commissioner of oaths, swear out a written statement that you intend to fly all segments of the ticket issued. Give this to the travel agent to put on the file, should any problems be encountered after the fact, and be sure to keep your boarding passes and get your passport stamped to prove you did all the travel included on your ticket. Maybe you should even spend an overnight in Mexico, just to make it a thoroughly "legitimate" trip.

If the tarrif did not permit such stop-overs, this would be specifically stated and stop-overs would not be allowed. This is not the case with the MHD tarrifs.
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Old Mar 4, 01, 10:41 am
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I say let Amex have all six barrels. Here are the applicable sections of the AC tariff:

Restrictions:

FIRST TRAVEL - 5DEC00
SEASONS - NO RESTRICTION
PENALTIES - NONE
DAY/TIME - NO RESTRICTION
ADV RES/TKT - NO RESTRICTION
MIN STAY - NO RESTRICTION
MAX STAY - NO RESTRICTION
BLACKOUTS - NO RESTRICTION
STOPOVERS - PERMITTED-UNLIMITED
TRANSFERS - NO RESTRICTION
FLT APPLIC - NO RESTRICTION
OTHER DISC - ANY AC FLIGHT
COMBINABLTY - SEE TEXT RULE
ELIGIBILITY - NO RESTRICTION
ACCOM PSGR - NO RESTRICTION
TRVL RESTR - NO RESTRICTION
SALES RESTR - NO RESTRICTION
TKT ENDORSE - NO RESTRICTION
APPLICATION - SEE TEXT RULE
MISC TAGS - SEE TEXT RULE
MPM - WH VIA WESTERN HEMISPHERE
INDUSTRY FARE TYPE - BU - BUSINESS CLASS UNRESTRICTED

And here are the valid AC routes:

ROUTING 308
YHZ-AC-YMQ-AC-YTO-AC-MEX*
YHZ-AC-YMQ-AC-YTO-AC-DEN-AC-MEX*
YHZ-AC-YMQ-AC-YTO-AC-CHI-AC-MEX*
YHZ-AC-YMQ-AC-YTO-AC-NYC-AC-MEX*
YHZ-AC-NYC-AC-MEX*


[This message has been edited by Ken hAAmer (edited 03-04-2001).]
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Old Mar 4, 01, 11:04 am
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And for good measure, here is the MX tariff. Book and MX ticket and forget about AC. Only things that are different from AC are listed.

Restrictions:

BOOKING CODES J
FIRST TRAVEL -23FEB01 TRAVEL COMPLETE -11JAN02
STOPOVERS - PERMITTED-UNLIMITED
OTHER DISC - NONE
SALES RESTR - EXTENSION OF TICKET VALIDITY PERMITTED UNDER GUIDELINES SET FORTH BY CARRIER. CONTACT CARRIER FOR DETAILS.

Routing:

YHZ-AC-CHI-MX-MEX*
YHZ-AC-LAX-MX-MEX*
YHZ-AC-SFO-MX-MEX*
YHZ-AC-YMQ-MX-MEX*
YHZ-AC-YTO-MX-MEX*
YHZ-MX/AC-YTO-MX-MEX*
YHZ-MX/AC-YTO-MX/AC-DEN/EWR-MX-MEX*
YHZ-MX/AC-YTO-MX/AC-MIA-MX-MEX*
YHZ-MX/AC-YTO-MX/AC-MIA-MX-CUN/MID-MX-MEX*
YHZ-MX/AC-YTO-MX/AC-DEN-MX-MZT/PVR/SJD/ZCL-MX-MEX*
YHZ-MX/AC-YTO-MX/AC-MIA-MX-MEX*
YHZ-MX/AC-YTO-MX/AC-MIA-MX-CUN/MID-MX-MEX*
YHZ-MX/AC-YTO-MX/AC-DEN-MX-MZT/PVR/SJD/ZCL-MX-MEX*

Note that both tariffs are J class, but the restrictions (or lack thereof) are pretty much the same for full Y and several slightly discounted fares.
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Old Mar 4, 01, 11:39 am
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And to really make a point, the same effective itinerary can be had on UA, AA, and CO, and perhaps others as well. Each of these has slight differences. For example, with AA you can connect in Miami, San Antonio, DFW, or Chicago, where it appears you're really heading.

There are also some amusing restrictions -- you must purchase your ticket at least 30 minutes before departure, and there are a few blackout dates, all of them around US holidays. I you really want to take advantage of the US carriers, you can ticket in F class, although you would still travel in J. But you would receive a 50% COS bonus when collecting AA/oneworld miles. The additional cost would be $2... Canadian.

Prices for AA are the same as AC and MX. Prices for CO are slightly lower, and for UA quite a bit lower. CO can take you to/through NYC and HOU, and UA to/throug ORD and WAS.

Take your pick.

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Old Mar 4, 01, 12:17 pm
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Hey Ken, you just twigged us to a quick, relatively inexpensive way of achieving AAdvantage Platinum elite status. By buying one of these on AA, and registering for the Platinum Challenge, all miles/points racked up will be at full Y-credit. This means one MHD should be all that is needed for this status (I believe you have to earn 10K points in 90-days, or 10K miles on full fares/20K miles on discounted fares. Do it after July 15th and you've got the status through to Feb 2003.
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Old Mar 4, 01, 12:50 pm
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...so just when we thought the MHD possibilities were exhausting themselves...


Ken, why did you say you'd buy it in F and fly in J?

andrew
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Old Mar 4, 01, 1:29 pm
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...a quick, relatively inexpensive way of achieving AAdvantage Platinum elite status.
Indeed. In fact, my very first MHD was done for this very purpose. (For details of my first 3 MHDs, including an "aborted" one, see Mexican Hat Dance Club.) Very effective, very inexpensive, very quick way to oneworld sapphire status, complete with lounge access (except in the US) and priority everything, as well as extremely high probability of upgrades from any fare, that you can buy if you run out. Even if you buy the upgrades, it usually works out to less than paying an AC "upgradeable" fare and using a "free" upgrade certificate.

You have 90 days, starting on the 1st or 16th of any month, to accumulate 10K points. But shades of Canada, you only get point per mile on any discounted fare, and 1 point for full Y fares. But you also get COS bonuses for J and F class, 25% and 50%, so travelling or at least ticketing in F reduces the mileage requirement to 6667 miles, while J tickets would require 8000 miles.
Ken, why did you say you'd buy it in F and fly in J?
Because AA (and other US carriers) have stopped offering F class service on some routes. You could buy a J class ticket, but you'd only get 25% COS bonus. If you buy an F class ticket you get a 50% COS bonus, but because there is no distinction between F and J on the plane, the F fare is typically only 1 or 2 dollars more than J class. Therefore you get a 25% Q-mile bonus for 2$.

[This message has been edited by Ken hAAmer (edited 03-04-2001).]
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Old Mar 4, 01, 3:08 pm
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Ok, suppose I wanted to do a "tour America" itinerary. This is what I would have in mind:
Day 1 YYZ-MIA-CUN
Day 3 CUN-MIA
Day 5 MIA-DFW
Day 7 DFW-DCA
Day 9 DCA-YYZ

Would all these flights be MHD-eligible for an AA ticket?

Keep in mind that you could only register for AAdvantage Platinum Challenge if you're not an existing Platinum member.
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Old Mar 4, 01, 3:26 pm
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itn.com says it will cost you C$4466.00 including coach on the (U.S.) domestic segments and on DCA-YYZ. I tried specifying First for the domestics but it still came up coach.

What you have to do is figure out what cities are valid for your connections. Look up simple round trips on AA on expedia and use that as the basis.

For instance, MIA is a valid connecting city for YYZ-CUN, which should give you YYZ-MIA-CUN-MIA. But is DFW a valid connecting city for MIA-DCA or MIA-YYZ? Or (backing up) is MIA a valid connecting city for CUN-DFW?

And if DFW is valid for connecting MIA-DCA, is DCA valid for connecting MIA-YYZ?

That's how I work these things out anyway. And remember, sometimes throwing in one more segment turns it into a multi-fare itinerary (don't know the technical term) instead of one long routing.

Also it's possible the fact that some are in coach may be throwing things off, since that fare might not allow the stopovers.

andrew


andrew
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Old Mar 4, 01, 11:00 pm
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I found that by changing around my routing a bit, I was able to fall within the MHD fare.

Day 1 YYZ-DFW J
Day 3 DFW-CUN J
Day 5 CUN-MIA J
Day 7 MIA-DCA F
Day 9 DCA-YYZ Y (ERJ-135)

This worked out to $1360 + tx

Y ticket is about $1100 + tx. It's not worth it to purchase Y and then upgrade with AA status because it would require about 9 or 10 upgrade credits to do the whole itinerary. (10 credits = US$312.50 value)
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Old Mar 5, 01, 7:52 am
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Buying F as KH suggests would be better since you get the 50% class of service bonus and the front cabin seating without losing any upgrade credits (or paying more as your example shows). I don't believe AA gives class of service bonus on upgraded flights [though this used to happen on CP R-class which showed up on my AA account as 150% before the 100% bonus for Plat status. These bonuses make up for the fact that the mileage is not as great when you fly this routing, versus the west coast ones we've been talking about for "easterners".
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Old Mar 5, 01, 8:06 am
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It would appear for this trip they are spending $2900 to fly me YHZ-MSP-YHZ where it would have been less than half price to do a MHD. The person at the headoffice won't listen to me, these are the rules so live with them etc. I plan on contacting the president of the organization this week and letting him know how ridiculous she is being, I will also give him the links to this site so he can see it is indeed legitimate.

Thanks.
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Old Mar 5, 01, 8:42 am
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Shareholder, is it possible to buy a F ticket? AA markets Canada, Mexico and Caribbean routes as J.

Upgraded segments are not eligible for COS bonuses.
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Old Mar 5, 01, 9:43 am
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MapleLeaf, I don't know if this thinking would be applicable in your case, but my company has had opportunities to save significant amounts on airfares by using MHD routings. But we've never even considered doing it.

One of the issues is the fear of any complications (and liability?) that might arise as a result of making unnecessary border crossings. For that reason alone I wouldn't approve MHDs. The second reason is pretty basic: it just doesn't make economic sense. The money saved doesn't even begin to compensate for the time lost by staff spending an extra day (or more) flying around the continent. Not to mention the exhaustion factor. How productive will these people be after returning from such a tiring trip. Also there's the increased risk of additional delays due to an increased number of connections.

I really don't blame your company for avoiding MHDs. I just don't see a place for them in corporate travel, especially in simple point to point trips.
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