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Blog: international partner ticket cancelled due to negative account balance

Blog: international partner ticket cancelled due to negative account balance

Old Nov 8, 19, 10:57 am
  #1  
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Blog: international partner ticket cancelled due to negative account balance

The thing I find interesting here is that the traveler was not made aware of the ticket being "suspended" until he arrived at the counter in the Maldives for check-in for an Emirates flight. He had returned some merchandise around April that resulted in 9,000 miles being removed from his account and putting him in negative territory. Original ticketing was in March and travel in September. His position is that Alaska should have notified him of his ticket being "suspended" prior to date of travel.

Anyone here ever ran a negative balance and had their ticket suspended? Won't happen to me as I have a healthy account balance, but is it something that regularly happens with award tickets?

We had a confirmed award ticket with emirate booked through Alaska mile, they suspended our ticket but didn’t alert us until the day we travel saying we were short on mile and needed to purchase more mile before they unblock our reservation so we had no choice but bought a cash ticket since it was boarding time.

They said when I booked the ticket I had enough miles but after a month or so my Alaska credit card company deducted 9000 miles from my merchandise I returned .
https://loyaltylobby.com/2019/11/08/...t-at-check-in/
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Old Nov 8, 19, 11:10 am
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That's a lot of merchandise returns. Am sure they just had a lot of gifts they changed their mind on giving and weren't trying to manufacture spend to get an award redemption *eyeroll*. AS was right to ask them to buy more miles to keep their ticket, but probably should've been more proactive in letting them know their ticket wasn't valid for travel. (or maybe they did send emails and this person chose to ignore/try to travel anyhow)
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Old Nov 8, 19, 11:11 am
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A clawback of 9,000 miles would mean that a lot of merchandise was returned. Moreover, in the intervening months, apparently miles weren't earned on AS nor through the affiliate credit card.

Scam?
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Old Nov 8, 19, 11:51 am
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The thread is based on "facts" known only from a clickbait blogger.

But, the underlying principle seems fair enough. OP did not pay for his ticket (whether the currency is cash or miles is immaterial) and that resulted in the suspension of his ticket. He should count himself lucky that the ticket was not simply cancelled, leaving him to purchase one-way tickets at walk-up prices to get home.

Even if AS should have notified him (and for all we know it is sitting in a spam filter for him to find on return), this does not change the fact that it is the card user / passenger's responsibility to track this, all the more when it involves $9K in merchandise returns.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 12:20 pm
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They thought they're ahead 9k AS miles by gaming it with the returns and at the end it costs them much more. No sympathy. They had 6 month to replenish the account but they didn't.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 12:25 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
He should count himself lucky that the ticket was not simply cancelled, leaving him to purchase one-way tickets at walk-up prices to get home.
Isn't that exactly what he ended up doing (purchasing a one-way ticket at walk-up prices)?


we had no choice but bought a cash ticket since it was boarding time.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 12:49 pm
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It's easy for us to assume this person was trying to game the system, but we really don't know.

Even if they were, it seems like it would be a good idea for AS to have some automated alert setup for this situation, to warn the customer that they either need to replenish the miles (through travel or purchase) within a certain time, or that the ticket will be invalidated. It is possible that there were contacts, as we don't know the whole story.

But if he was trying to game the system, well, then to quote Nelson Muntz, "Haw Haw"
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Old Nov 8, 19, 1:42 pm
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Originally Posted by nearlysober View Post
It's easy for us to assume this person was trying to game the system, but we really don't know.


Yeah, we don't know, but what we can infer is:

- travel with someone else ("we") to Maldives on an AS EK award (read: huge pile o' AS miles)
- sent a complaint to a blogger (read: is already a pretty sophisticated flier, this isn't Maw and Paw Kettle on their first airline trip to see the family on Thanksgiving, plus big pile o' AS miles)
- and in a stunning coincidence, they returned a few thousand dollars in merchandise purchased on their AS credit card to put their account into negative balance, and didn't bother to check or fix anything until AS told them "oh, we suspended your award ticket because you put the account into a negative balance" (this also means that person didn't bother doing much with their account or the CC other than book those EK tickets, apparently).

I mean, sure, maybe it was all innocent and they're the victim of an "aggressive" airline, but just based on what we were told (which often isn't the whole story), it's not a very good look.

Last edited by eponymous_coward; Nov 8, 19 at 4:31 pm
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Old Nov 8, 19, 2:41 pm
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So I've done a lot of shenanigans which have resulted in multi-thousand negative points balances on (mostly hotel) accounts which I then just stop using after milking them - but I always, ALWAYS, make sure that any redemption of hotels/flights happens before the points go in negative territory, precisely for this reason.

This is obviously a grey (or outright black) area which a lot of unethical people take advantage of, but you need to move quickly and then abandon the negative account, instead of sitting on a ticket that someone can notice and suspend.

Its obvious that the blogger did the whole buy something refundable to run up balance then book ticket with it shenanigans - they just weren't smart enough to fly before doing the refund.

Last edited by nomiiiii; Nov 8, 19 at 2:47 pm
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Old Nov 8, 19, 3:13 pm
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It doesn't matter whether the passenger was gaming the system. What matters is that he had an unpaid ticket. How it got that way is speculation and unimportant. It's a business transaction. Nothing more.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 4:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
It doesn't matter whether the passenger was gaming the system. What matters is that he had an unpaid ticket. How it got that way is speculation and unimportant. It's a business transaction. Nothing more.
No, it appears he paid at the time of ticketing and miles were deducted.

The fact that his balance went negative later on is completely unrelated and should have been handled via some sort of communication. If your bank account balance goes negative bank will not go and seize your property purchased in the past; they may prevent future purchases, assess penalties, close accounts etc etc but not reverse a completed transaction or go after your property without court decision. The ticket was already pax' property and imo they should go after AS and claim the amount they spent in SCC.

BTW during some sort of promo (eg homedepot 5 mi/$ plu threshold bonus) it is easy to return a malfunctioning appliance and end up with such point debit...

Last edited by azepine00; Nov 8, 19 at 4:10 pm
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Old Nov 8, 19, 4:26 pm
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Originally Posted by nomiiiii View Post

Its obvious that the blogger did the whole buy something refundable to run up balance then book ticket with it shenanigans - they just weren't smart enough to fly before doing the refund.
The blogger (John O.) did none of that.

A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us an email about a problem with Alaska Airlines....
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Old Nov 8, 19, 4:47 pm
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Originally Posted by azepine00 View Post
iIf your bank account balance goes negative bank will not go and seize your property purchased in the past; they may prevent future purchases, assess penalties, close accounts etc etc but not reverse a completed transaction or go after your property without court decision. The ticket was already pax' property and imo they should go after AS and claim the amount they spent in SCC.
Airlines aren't banks. No shock, the T&Cs for Mileage Plan say AS can yank your already issued MP award tickets for fraud. Emphasis added.

https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mi...and-conditions

In the event a Mileage Plan member violates these Conditions of Membership, perpetrates a fraudulent or deceitful act against Alaska Airlines, any of its partners or any of its customers, or engages in behavior offensive to Alaska Airlines' employees, partners or customers, Alaska Airlines may, without notice and in its sole discretion, suspend the Mileage Plan member's account; terminate membership in the Mileage Plan program; cancel all previously accumulated mileage; refuse to transport on a temporary or permanent basis; and/or confiscate any certificates or tickets previously issued.
There you go. There's a reason why that blogger called it "aggressive" but not "a violation of terms and conditions for the frequent flyer program". Doesn't seem like an open and shut case in SCC (especially since that correspondent's admissions against interest at least indicate they weren't paying any attention to their MP account's negative balance for a number of months), and case law is pretty pro-airline in the USA. The moral of the story might be "keep an eye on tickets that are worth thousands of dollars and the frequent flyer account you used, because the airline will".

Last edited by eponymous_coward; Nov 8, 19 at 4:54 pm
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Old Nov 8, 19, 4:56 pm
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This is why i try to avoid returns fraud
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Old Nov 8, 19, 5:01 pm
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Originally Posted by azepine00 View Post
No, it appears he paid at the time of ticketing and miles were deducted.

The fact that his balance went negative later on is completely unrelated and should have been handled via some sort of communication. If your bank account balance goes negative bank will not go and seize your property purchased in the past; they may prevent future purchases, assess penalties, close accounts etc etc but not reverse a completed transaction or go after your property without court decision. The ticket was already pax' property and imo they should go after AS and claim the amount they spent in SCC.

BTW during some sort of promo (eg homedepot 5 mi/$ plu threshold bonus) it is easy to return a malfunctioning appliance and end up with such point debit...
Analogies never work.

The facts here are different and that yields a different result. OP did not pay cash, but rather with points which are subject to clear contractual terms to which the passenger presumably agreed.

The card issuer (bank) pays AS for the miles which it transfers to the passenger as he makes purchases and "claws back" as he makes returns or otherwise accepts credits against those purchases. The miles balance drops when the claw back occurs and there are insufficient funds to pay for the ticket.

Not sure exactly what one would say to a judge in any court besides, "AS did exactly what I agreed it could"
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