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-   -   AS Cancels EK Award Tickets for My Friend [Possible Merge] (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/alaska-airlines-mileage-plan/1955205-cancels-ek-award-tickets-my-friend-possible-merge.html)

A3queen Feb 8, 19 3:32 am

AS Cancels EK Award Tickets for My Friend [Possible Merge]
 
Alaska Airlines cancelled my friendsí Emirates flight from Cape Town to JFK (via DXB) that I booked using my own miles, without notifying her & after confirming 3x that her booking was all good. After she was checked in & at the airport, Emirates told her Alaska cancelled her ticket. Alaskaís Customer Care office is NOT open 24 hours, so there was no one for us or Emirates to call to try to fix it (we tried).

Once Customer Care office opened 8 hours later, we were was informed by a Customer Care Supervisor in Seattle, that Alaska Airlines Policy forbids Mileage Plan members from using our own miles to book award tickets for friends or family members. She went on to say that if the passenger has the same last name as the mileage plan member, the ticket may not get ďflaggedĒ, although it was still a violation.

She showed us where on the Alaska website it states these terms, although to me it looked like a paragraph that was written for travel agents or brokers. The supervisor clarified again, and said whoever books the flight is considered the ďtravel arrangerĒ and therefore that paragraph DOES apply, and it is absolutely forbidden for anyone to use miles for anyone other than the person whose name is on the account (unless you open a business account?!)! Iím still in shock. The call was recorded for verification purposes. My friend had to purchase a 1k last minute tix for the following day & is waiting now, still packed to head back to the airport in Cape Town.
Iíve been collecting Alaska miles myself & was excited for my friend to fly home on Emirates and had planned to book a business or first class ticket myself. After losing 2k and losing 2 invaluable & frustrating days Iím at a loss... has anyone heard of anything like this? Should I post part of the 1 hour recording where she clearly and repeatedly states the above policy? Any advise is deeply appreciated.

flo_147 Feb 8, 19 3:43 am

Wow never heard about that. In that case you shouldnít be allowed to book 2 tickets (one for you and one for your partner) then as well. What a stupid argument - I just hope that this behavior / reasoning will not get the norm.

eddiehuang97 Feb 8, 19 5:51 am

That's definitely a wrong and irresponsible answer given by CC Agent. Please report that and ask for a formal response. You are not allowed to sell it, but you can definitely book a ticket for your friend using your own miles.

This is the section you are talking about in T&C:

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles, award tickets, upgrade certificates, and companion certificates may not be sold, purchased or bartered except as permitted on Points.com. Travel agents, travel arrangers and unauthorized brokers are not permitted to issue Mileage Plan tickets or to process or facilitate any other Mileage Plan transactions (including Mileage Plan account creation, account inquiries, and mileage or award ticket transfers) on behalf of others. If Alaska Airlines becomes aware that a member or a third party has misrepresented his/her identity in order to perform a Mileage Plan transaction, Alaska Airlines may, in its sole discretion, void the transaction. miles or award tickets issued, transferred or obtained in violation of these conditions of membership are voidable, in Alaska Airlines’ sole discretion. The member and/or the traveler shall be liable for the full, unrestricted value of awards issued as a result of improper or fraudulent transfers or otherwise in violation of these conditions of membership. Alaska Airlines shall not be responsible for any inconvenience, damage or loss incurred by the member or the traveler if travel is interrupted or an award ticket is invalidated due to violation of these conditions of membership. Alaska Airlines reserves the right to deactivate the Mileage Plan account and/or remove the miles from the account of any member who violates these terms until liability is fulfilled, and all other rights under applicable law to enforce these conditions of membership.

I think what it's saying is that travel arrangers can't operate on other people's account, but you definitely have every right to use your own miles. They might flag you and cancel the ticket if you just created your mileage account/don't fly with Alaska often and bought a huge chunk of miles to book the flight for your friend. However, you could totally book a flight for your friend.

Often1 Feb 8, 19 6:16 am

Looks as though OP got caught up in heightened anti-fraud efforts.

While this all sounds as though it got confused in the game of telephone, it is not about whether one can use one's own miles to purchase a redemption for someone else, but rather whether a person other than the account holder may access the account to make the purchase. The former is perfectly fine so long as there is no payment, trade, or barter in return for the redemption. The latter is simply an anti-fraud device.

It sounds to me as though AS believes that a third-party accessed the account to make the purchase rather than the OP.

This is only going to be resolved via a direct conversation between OP and AS with no intermediaries in which OP asks directly why AS cancelled the ticket without getting into any other details first. This may require written follow up and may ultimately require a small claims action for the money OP is out (if he purchased a cash ticket for the other passenger).

In the meantime, it is important to pull together the details of how the ticket was purchased. E.g., where was OP when he made the purchase, what device did he use, (home vs. office laptop or something else) and whether there is any other person who has his password and who may have accessed the account even if not for this particular redemption. Having all of this in hand can be helpful in case AS anti-fraud security people believed that the "travel arranger" was not OP.

aCavalierInCoach Feb 8, 19 7:38 am

I am pretty skeptical of stories like these and tend to think there is more to the story here... but if the purchase was truly for a friend, this is extremely bad behavior on AS' part. Cancelling the ticket as part of anti-fraud measures is one thing that can be a good faith mistake. Cancelling an underlying ticket after someone has checked-in has an entirely different, vengeful character to it that - if true - deserves much more exposure.

Often1 Feb 8, 19 7:43 am


Originally Posted by aCavalierInCoach (Post 30753749)
I am pretty skeptical of stories like these and tend to think there is more to the story here... but if the purchase was truly for a friend, this is extremely bad behavior on AS' part. Cancelling the ticket as part of anti-fraud measures is one thing that can be a good faith mistake. Cancelling an underlying ticket after someone has checked-in has an entirely different, vengeful character to it that - if true - deserves much more exposure.

That is common practice among other US and EU carriers as well. Nothing odd at all. The passenger is permitted to check in and is dealt with at the airport.

This puts aside the question of whether the ticket was fraudulently issued. If it was, it is a means of catching up with ticket brokers and the like.

aCavalierInCoach Feb 8, 19 7:45 am


Originally Posted by Often1 (Post 30753765)
That is common practice among other US and EU carriers as well. Nothing odd at all. The passenger is permitted to check in and is dealt with at the airport.

I don't mean this to be snarky, but where have you found data points indicating such a pattern?

Eastbay1K Feb 8, 19 8:29 am


Originally Posted by Often1 (Post 30753520)
Looks as though OP got caught up in heightened anti-fraud efforts.

While this all sounds as though it got confused in the game of telephone, it is not about whether one can use one's own miles to purchase a redemption for someone else, but rather whether a person other than the account holder may access the account to make the purchase. The former is perfectly fine so long as there is no payment, trade, or barter in return for the redemption. The latter is simply an anti-fraud device.

It sounds to me as though AS believes that a third-party accessed the account to make the purchase rather than the OP.

Yes. Interesting first post by the poster.

Will the OP please clarify the following?
(1) How long was the account open?
(2) How many of the miles earned were by flying v. mileage purchases and credit card churn?
(3) How many previous mileage awards have been redeemed on the account? (And if any, how many for the OP, and how many for others)?

But as with many new posters with such a post, we never hear anything again.

BOB W Feb 8, 19 9:05 am


Originally Posted by Eastbay1K (Post 30753916)
Yes. Interesting first post by the poster.

Will the OP please clarify the following?
(1) How long was the account open?
(2) How many of the miles earned were by flying v. mileage purchases and credit card churn?
(3) How many previous mileage awards have been redeemed on the account? (And if any, how many for the OP, and how many for others)?

But as with many new posters with such a post, we never hear anything again.

True. There is a history of one off posts from 1 posters, just to stir up trouble. Unless the first poster responds, I suggest that this thread be closed. Way too many questions need to be answered by the first poster to take this any further.

dmodemd Feb 8, 19 9:07 am

At one point United was auditing upgrades granted to friends and family. I had a GA call me to the desk on one of my flights and handed me the phone. On the phone was a UA auditor who questioned me on how I knew the person who had granted me the upgrade. It was someone I met on FlyerTalk and happened to know enough about them to barely satisfy their suspicions. Of course they are looking for whether I had paid for the upgrade or offered anything else for it (barter).

In this case, I wonder if there was any other investigation done where the recipient was contacted and their responses led to suspicions that caused Alaska to cancel the ticket. In any event, all parties should have been notified immediately. Maybe that suspicion occurred at the check-in desk?

MSPeconomist Feb 8, 19 9:25 am


Originally Posted by A3queen (Post 30753218)
Alaska Airlines cancelled my friends’ Emirates flight from Cape Town to JFK (via DXB) that I booked using my own miles, without notifying her & after confirming 3x that her booking was all good. After she was checked in & at the airport, Emirates told her Alaska cancelled her ticket. Alaska’s Customer Care office is NOT open 24 hours, so there was no one for us or Emirates to call to try to fix it (we tried).

Once Customer Care office opened 8 hours later, we were was informed by a Customer Care Supervisor in Seattle, that Alaska Airlines Policy forbids Mileage Plan members from using our own miles to book award tickets for friends or family members. She went on to say that if the passenger has the same last name as the mileage plan member, the ticket may not get “flagged”, although it was still a violation.

She showed us where on the Alaska website it states these terms, although to me it looked like a paragraph that was written for travel agents or brokers. The supervisor clarified again, and said whoever books the flight is considered the “travel arranger” and therefore that paragraph DOES apply, and it is absolutely forbidden for anyone to use miles for anyone other than the person whose name is on the account (unless you open a business account?!)! I’m still in shock. The call was recorded for verification purposes. My friend had to purchase a 1k last minute tix for the following day & is waiting now, still packed to head back to the airport in Cape Town.
I’ve been collecting Alaska miles myself & was excited for my friend to fly home on Emirates and had planned to book a business or first class ticket myself. After losing 2k and losing 2 invaluable & frustrating days I’m at a loss... has anyone heard of anything like this? Should I post part of the 1 hour recording where she clearly and repeatedly states the above policy? Any advise is deeply appreciated.

I'm trying to understand how the OP could be "losing 2k" when the friend had to purchase a ticket for 1k. We don't know where OP is located, but an award ticket (one way?) from South Africa to JFK could look suspicious for a first redemption using AS miles given that there's no obvious connection between the passenger and the OP. If the passenger modified the ticket or actually booked it herself using OP's AS account, the verbiage about travel arrangers would seem to apply.

Frankly, it sounds to me like OP sold the award ticket to the "friend" for 2k. Just my opinion based on what I'm reading here.....

Flying for Fun Feb 8, 19 10:19 am


Originally Posted by MSPeconomist (Post 30754134)

[...]

Frankly, it sounds to me like OP sold the award ticket to the "friend" for 2k. Just my opinion based on what I'm reading here.....

Perhaps the $2K was spent on purchasing miles.

James

MSPeconomist Feb 8, 19 10:26 am

Someone would pay 2k for miles to give an award ticket to a friend, when the friend can pay only 1k to buy a last minute ticket? It must be a very good friend, and I guess we can assume that it was a business class ticket.

Did AS just cancel the ticket or did they take OP's miles and/or cancel the account too?

pbd456 Feb 8, 19 10:35 am

may I become your friend? I promise I will treat you wrll!

Flying for Fun Feb 8, 19 10:36 am


Originally Posted by MSPeconomist (Post 30754362)
Someone would pay 2k for miles to give an award ticket to a friend, when the friend can pay only 1k to buy a last minute ticket? It must be a very good friend, and I guess we can assume that it was a business class ticket.

Did AS just cancel the ticket or did they take OP's miles and/or cancel the account too?

But how much did the "friend" pay the OP for the ticket and have to refund? Too many unanswered questions to speculate further and unless the OP is willing to share all the details we will never know. Generally, silence speaks volumes.

James

pbd456 Feb 8, 19 10:36 am

How much money does AS make by cancelling accounts on suspicion on violating T&C?

MSPeconomist Feb 8, 19 10:45 am


Originally Posted by pbd456 (Post 30754393)
How much money does AS make by cancelling accounts on suspicion on violating T&C?

They make award ticket space more available for those who do follow the rules and such customers might be more willing to fly AS or to pay more to fly AS (less elastic demand) as a result. On the books, when they cancel an account, they would take away the value of those miles. They might or might not get a refund for a partner ticket cancelled at the last minute and if it were an award ticket on their own metal, they might or might not be able to sell the seat or permit someone to change to the flight at a profitable price.

Flying for Fun Feb 8, 19 10:46 am


Originally Posted by pbd456 (Post 30754393)
How much money does AS make by cancelling accounts on suspicion on violating T&C?

They make money on Mileage Sales and then seize them for violations.

James

wonderlaw Feb 8, 19 10:52 am

FWIW, did anyone else note the original poster is a member since February of 2019 and has only one post (this post)?

williwaw Feb 8, 19 10:55 am

Mileage accounts also show up as liabilities on the corporate balance sheet. As of December, 2017, Mileage Plan balances represented a net of $1.2 billion in liabilities and deferred revenue for Alaska. Though they acknowledge the accounting rules make this less than exact.

Eastbay1K Feb 8, 19 11:08 am


Originally Posted by wonderlaw (Post 30754459)
FWIW, did anyone else note the original poster is a member since February of 2019 and has only one post (this post)?

Yes, if you notice my post (and Bob W's reply to it).

solewalker Feb 8, 19 12:42 pm


Originally Posted by wonderlaw (Post 30754459)
FWIW, did anyone else note the original poster is a member since February of 2019 and has only one post (this post)?

Yes. That's what is called #onepostwonder on FT.

Often1 Feb 8, 19 12:48 pm

Closing accounts for fraud is not likely a profitable exercise for AS. Corporate security does not come cheap and there are branding concerns as well if it is done too much.

It is certainly good and important for those who obey the rules.

OP's story is simply lacking in detail and until (or if) he returns, this is just another rant where someone expected a ton of sympathy and didn't get any. If OP does return with useful detail, we'll see what it is.

A3queen Feb 9, 19 9:04 am


Originally Posted by MSPeconomist (Post 30754134)
I'm trying to understand how the OP could be "losing 2k" when the friend had to purchase a ticket for 1k. We don't know where OP is located, but an award ticket (one way?) from South Africa to JFK could look suspicious for a first redemption using AS miles given that there's no obvious connection between the passenger and the OP. If the passenger modified the ticket or actually booked it herself using OP's AS account, the verbiage about travel arrangers would seem to apply.

Frankly, it sounds to me like OP sold the award ticket to the "friend" for 2k. Just my opinion based on what I'm reading here.....

Iím trying to learn how to reply to peoples individual posts so please forgive me if I donít do this properly. I absolutely did not sell my friend her ticket. She was traveling with me and had a flight home on South African airways already from JNB to JFK for the 5th but she thought she was flying home on the 7th and i hadnít get been able to show her Cape Town- one of my fav cities in the world ! (And where I want to have a music event next year). So I offered to get her a mileage fix on Alaska directly from CT to JFK via DXB on the 7th. It only cost me 47,500 miles and about $76usd in taxes. The 2k reference I made was because Kimberly took an Uber to the airport in CT, where she was told by Emirates Alaska had cancelled her flight. She called me at the hotel and we conferences Alaska who had us on hold for over 20 min - because their customer care dept was not open until 7am PST & it was noon in Cape Town...Alaska had us on hold for so long that Emirates wasnít even able to let her purchase a tix for the 1:15pm flight (5 min too late). She ubered back to the hotel. I had to extend the hotel another night (vs staying with my friend as planned in CT) because my whole day was consumed with fixing this (hotel alone in camps bay was $345) Kimberly purchased a tix for the 6:25pm flight which was almost $800. She ubered back to the airport at 3pm- but there were fires in Cape Town & the roads closed - so she literally couldnít make the 30 min journey in 3 hours and therefore missed the 6pmish flight. Emirates charged her $200 to change it to the following day. So JUST for her tix, her change fee, her 5 Ubers & the hotel room - all of which were unnecessary if Alaska had provided what they confirmed - is close to 2k. This does NOT count all the time, effort and energy both Kimberly & I lost in this process or the hours of phone data on with Alaska. Thereís no way I would bother to post this if I was selling a ticket and got busted. Iím not stupid. Kim & my social media shows all of our travels & we travel together often.

Im not sure if this will work, but Iím going to try to attach the actual conversation with Alask so everyone can hear what I heard. Iím still in shock... and Kimberly is still en route to JFK.

ashill Feb 9, 19 9:17 am


Originally Posted by A3queen (Post 30757555)
Iím trying to learn how to reply to peoples individual posts so please forgive me if I donít do this properly. I absolutely did not sell my friend her ticket. She was traveling with me

Welcome to FlyerTalk, and glad you came back to answer follow-up questions! If she was traveling with you, that puts this in a very different category than the mileage brokers we encounter fairly routinely on this forum.

As you reply to others, be sure to answer one key question: how long had your Alaska Mileage Plan account been open, and how had you acquired your miles? One common issue reported here that could be honest is a recently-opened account which relies mostly or entirely on purchased miles; Alaska and all other airlines (sensibly) view those kinds of accounts with suspicion.


Thereís no way I would bother to post this if I was selling a ticket and got busted. Iím not stupid. Kim & my social media shows all of our travels & we travel together often.

Im not sure if this will work, but Iím going to try to attach the actual conversation with Alask so everyone can hear what I heard. Iím still in shock... and Kimberly is still en route to JFK.
Glad you wouldn't do that. But understand the skepticism from regulars in this forum: posts like yours often do in fact turn out to be mileage brokers (occasionally -- though not typically -- even unintentional mileage brokers who didn't read the terms and conditions to know that selling miles is an absolute no-no) who got busted.

williwaw Feb 9, 19 10:55 am

Good to learn more about this - thanks for sharing.

Often1 Feb 9, 19 11:31 am

Nonetheless, OP still does not explain how all of this ended with AS.

The multiple Ubers, extra night in a hotel, and the fact that the friend no showed on the cash ticket she purchased (even if the no show was for a good reason), has nothing to do with the AS issue and the redemption ticket.

So, the question to OP is, what happened or is happening with AS?

notquiteaff Feb 9, 19 11:32 am

Flyertalk was once a friendly place that welcomed new members looking for help and advice. Itís even in the rules.

https://www.flyertalk.com/help/rules.php#welcoming

Now just a few posts into the thread they get accused of fraudulent behavior. Quite sad.

OP - Welcome to Flyertalk. Regarding posting the recording you have, I would carefully review the laws applicable in your state. I am not a lawyer and canít offer advice.

notquiteaff Feb 9, 19 11:49 am


Originally Posted by Flying for Fun (Post 30754437)
They make money on Mileage Sales and then seize them for violations.

James

Alleged violations. And by that I don’t mean that they intentionally seize miles they sold that were not actually used in violation of the T&C, but I doubt that AS’s security department is infallible... and they (and other airlines) are apparently quite hostile or at least customer unfriendly and make it extremely difficult for customers to deal with such cases. It concerns me when I book my wife with miles from my account for solo trips as she has a different last name...

UAPremierExec Feb 9, 19 12:56 pm

Alaska corp security keeps track of IP addresses (including those of VPNs) which is how they are nailing the brokers. Could be the OP used a VPN service that is also used by a broker & her record got flagged.

pbd456 Feb 9, 19 1:42 pm

Thanks for the additional information that you provide. Was the award ticket booked long before departure or only days before? Your account was locked? I imagine you used your credit card to book the tickets?

There are a lot of fraud with air plane tickets and for example, credit card verification are needed to check in for many airlines.

A3queen Feb 10, 19 1:51 am

I AM often using an app called express VPN while weíve been traveling (mostly so my YouTube premium account will work here... and so I can watch certain TV shows at night). And so I can totally understand WHY the booking was originally flagged... it was last minute, coming in from South Africa via a VPN, etc... BUT my passport came directly from my California office, Iíve had my Alaska Airlines account for easily over 10 years. I have 2 Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa credit cards... and I used to be a Virgin America Gold member & they merged my accounts of course when they did everyoneís. Iíll try to answer other questions too. Thank you for your patience with me.

solewalker Feb 10, 19 2:53 am

I'm sorry for what you and your friend experienced.

Based on what you posted, it seems that VPN + South Africa + last minute one-way ticket triggered off fraud on Alaska's anti-fraud detection.

You definitely got a bad agent or something got lost in communication re: not being allowed to book for friends and family.

I am not sure why mentioning the passport is relevant, since no passport information is required for booking tickets for others using your own account.

Also, after re-reading your first post, I'm not sure what specific advice do you want from people on FT.

Eastbay1K Feb 10, 19 10:20 am

(1) Good to know points on what might trigger the fraud detector to start buzzing.
(2) Good to know that if my account were to be hacked from a far away source, the AS fraud detector would start buzzing.
(3) Good to know that if I ever make an "unconventional" award reservation (i.e., not me on the reservation, non-US point of departure, made from an IP address that AS might not recognize, etc.), I should call to speak with someone promptly.

One can only surmise that both fraud in violation of MP T&C department and Hacking department have occurred more than once with the OP's reported fact scenario.

warakorn Feb 10, 19 10:30 am

But wouldnt that one-sided cancellation warrant a DOT complaint?

UAPremierExec Feb 10, 19 11:13 am

Brokers and people who sell miles will typically provide their Alaska login info, so when Alaska starts seeing CA/WA/AS based accounts logging in from foreign points is where the flag starts.

Many companies are now starting to block some VPNs- for instance Im up in the Yukon right now and I use a VPN with 2 selections of locales in California to use Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. Well, Hulu now recognizes the VPN & blocked it. So no more Hulu for me :(

Ill bet ya Alaska is now monitoring that traffic as well...

Xrayman Feb 10, 19 3:49 pm


Originally Posted by UAPremierExec (Post 30761311)
Brokers and people who sell miles will typically provide their Alaska login info, so when Alaska starts seeing CA/WA/AS based accounts logging in from foreign points is where the flag starts.

Many companies are now starting to block some VPNs- for instance Im up in the Yukon right now and I use a VPN with 2 selections of locales in California to use Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. Well, Hulu now recognizes the VPN & blocked it. So no more Hulu for me :(

Ill bet ya Alaska is now monitoring that traffic as well...


I typically do not use miles for travel unless needing last minute travel or for friends/family (as I travel today out of Seattle a day earlier due to potential snow delays for my planned flight to tomorrow). This is useful to know if I am traveling abroad and will consider directly calling the MVP75K line to have them book my ticket for me or for a friend/family.

UAPremierExec Feb 10, 19 5:24 pm

I don't think ONE time is going to ding you, but seeing travelers NOT in your profile using high-value point spends, or multiple spends, will raise a red flag and cause someone to look at your bookings. Thankfully, they also track when you login to as.com and can probably also see you did other searches. So I think a one-off isn't going to cause your booking to get flagged. There's a lot more algorithms in place for flagging possible-fraudulent bookings. So in the OP's case, it was more than likely their use of a VPN, a high-value ticket, to points that aren't anywhere near the VPN/IP #s location. (make sense? example: buying a first class QF ticket from Australia to DEN, when your last login was in Los Angeles a day before, you don't have any QF redemptions/earnings, haven't been to DEN, and using a traveler that's not the same name/age/in your profile).

flatdawgs Feb 11, 19 10:13 am

AS should attempt to contact you before cancelling anything. Even banks will contact you for approval regarding a potential fraudulent charge, and in this way you can clear things up prior to having to go through something like this MP member has been forced to go through. Seriously, Alaska? I too use a VPN whilst traveling - a large enough one that I'm sure "ticket brokers" use it as well (and probably a million other people). It should never be incumbent upon the customer to have to worry - or even know about - "calling the MVP75G number" when a ticket was booked legitimately under the rules of the program. The vast majority of their customers are NOT FT-savvy and would reasonably expected to have no clue that anything other than booking the ticket normally would ever be required, particularly once it was confirmed. If it's legitimate through the terms of the program to book a mileage seat from SA to the US, then if Alaska has a problem with something they should reach out to the customer long before the flight - and certainly before cancelling it without notice hours before departure. That is unconscionable. The onus is on them in this case - particularly as their customer is clearly a long-term MP member.

pbd456 Feb 11, 19 11:25 am

No so savvy people buy round trip ticket to Africa...


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