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Lifemiles serious booking problems - Beware

Lifemiles serious booking problems - Beware

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Old Aug 2, 18, 2:27 am   -   Wikipost
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Last edit by: Tokyoite
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Please do your homework before buying Lifemiles. It is what it is... for some that's useful, for others it's not.

Biggest complaints are about
- mixed class bookings are available but now many of the suitable connections dont show
- not being able to book anything that isn't available online (there are work-arounds, see screenshot method below)
- the quality of the call center (English speaking agents are scarce, you might get thrown in a loop with call transfers within their call center)
- no stopovers (>24H) or open jaws, but you can book one way awards
- no reservations on Certain subsidiaries of Star Alliance carriers (Lufthansa Cityline, Germanwings)

Problems with ticketing / lack of confirmation screen or email
- write down the confirmation number shown on the screen after confirming your purchase.
check here: http://serviciosenlinea.avianca.com/...doReserva.aspx

Sometimes, even if you cannot see the PNR, the record may have been created, so better to call them and give them flight details you were trying to book. They can find the PNR from those details.
- ticketing usually takes place within 10-15 min of booking
- but it may also take up to 2 days
- if miles have been deducted from your account and a temporary authorization has been placed on your CC, you're probably fine even if you did not see a confirmation screen
- if no e-ticket number is visible on checkmytrip.com after two days, you should contact LifeMiles. You can expedite the ticketing by emailing with your booking reference to: [email protected] after you have booked, especially if you have booked last minute flights, and need ticketing straight away

Screenshot method.
So, on a date you are looking for in the future, there is availability for LAX-NRT and NRT-BKK. But not LAX-NRT-BKK.
It may be a case of the LM system not offering the through connection.

Take three screen shots - two 'available' screen shots for LAX-NRT and NRT-BKK and the 'not available' screen for LAX-BKK.
Send them all off with a scan of your passport page (PDF) and LM will make the booking manually for you.

Send to these two email addresses, and CC yourself (just for your records)
[email protected]
[email protected]

Sample email:
====
Email topic: Urgent request for booking Lifemiles Award
====
Dear Sirs,

I have tried several times, over several days, but the following itinerary does not show on the website.
Please see the three attached screenshots I took just now.
Please do the manual booking First Class/Business class for xx,000 miles. (*Know how many miles the whole award should cost-here, to avoid surprises once ticketed)

The availability is only 1 seat for this date, so please process this request urgently before it is gone.

Los Angeles (LAX) - Bangkok (BKK)
Saturday August 11th 2018
NH 175 connecting to NH 807
(*Provide the specific flight numbers you want, to avoid surprises once ticketed)

My passport copy (Number xxxx, expiry 20xx/xx/xx, Nationality xxx) is attached in this email.

LifeMiles Number: xxx
First Name: xxx
Last name: xxx
Date of Birth: Month, date, year
Gender: Male/Female
Email: xxxx
Phone Number: +1-xxxx

Regards,
XXX
=========
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Old Sep 14, 17, 1:35 pm
  #616  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Brisbane
Programs: QF gold, HH Diamond, VA plat, Aegean Gold
Posts: 546
Originally Posted by eddieflyer View Post
Curiously the front end of the search has changed. The backend still craps itself though.

At about 49 hours since my email to Avianca, I received a response deferring any work -- it requested a photocopy of my passport (information which is in my avianca profile) and my phone number (information that was in the body of the email). I had already attached a DL photo (which is what was requested).

I replied within 3 minutes. It's been a few hours more, and no response.
My screenshot booking last week was 4 days ini total to complete
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Old Sep 14, 17, 3:27 pm
  #617  
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Originally Posted by eddieflyer View Post
Curiously the front end of the search has changed. The backend still craps itself though.

At about 49 hours since my email to Avianca, I received a response deferring any work -- it requested a photocopy of my passport (information which is in my avianca profile) and my phone number (information that was in the body of the email). I had already attached a DL photo (which is what was requested).

I replied within 3 minutes. It's been a few hours more, and no response.
It seems this is fairly standard these days. As I mentioned up thread there appears to be a two stage process... reservations set up the booking and request things like copy of passport. The booking is then reviewed by the screenshot department (or as LM calls it the 'specialised' department). They give final approval and send out an email for you to contact LM to make payment.

Although you haven't heard back it doesn't mean they haven't booked your seats, or completed the booking. Stressful, but it seems to all work out.

Although all the details are in our profiles, I guess they want to try and prevent fraud by asking for a repeat of the details manually.
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Old Sep 14, 17, 4:21 pm
  #618  
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: DC
Programs: AS75k, Hilton Diamond, Hyatt Globalist
Posts: 112
Originally Posted by LHR/MEL/Europe FF View Post
It seems this is fairly standard these days. As I mentioned up thread there appears to be a two stage process... reservations set up the booking and request things like copy of passport. The booking is then reviewed by the screenshot department (or as LM calls it the 'specialised' department). They give final approval and send out an email for you to contact LM to make payment.

Although you haven't heard back it doesn't mean they haven't booked your seats, or completed the booking. Stressful, but it seems to all work out.

Although all the details are in our profiles, I guess they want to try and prevent fraud by asking for a repeat of the details manually.
Makes sense. Thanks for chiming in. And thanks for the datapoint, wtcmor.

I would recommend the following:

1. Use the "case #" subject line generated by the website when it crashes. Address it to BOTH [email protected] AND [email protected].

2. Be very explicit and include all possible information AND screenshots necessary to construct the booking; it's a huge delay if they can throw it back into your court:

Passenger
Lifemiles#
PHONE NUMBER
DOB
Passport#
Expiry
Citizenship
AND, both a screen shot of passport and driver's license. Recommend sizing appropriately (~ 500kb)

Date of Flight
ORG-DEST
Carrier, Flight#
ETD-ETA
Class, Mileage
Mileage USed+$Payment

AND include a screenshot of the selected flight before after the error

3. Tweet to BOTH @lifeMiles and @Avianca
4. Call? Possiblye -- though the tweet actually informed me when the email was sent, so they seem to have driven the process

This may seem like common sense and might be included upthread, but there's little room for error IMO because their process is so unforgiving and slow until you have a reservation constructed. Once it was constructed, I called in, selected:

2 for English,
Entered Lifemiles "#",
3 for Lifemiles
1 for booking

The phone agent had to fetch somebody for payment, but that process was fairly straightforward and quick.

I wish to warn everyone that there seemed to be a lot of "No, contact this other department" which happened with both the emails, the phone agents, and the twitter. Wherever possible, cover all bases at the same time.
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Last edited by eddieflyer; Sep 14, 17 at 4:30 pm
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Old Sep 14, 17, 4:45 pm
  #619  
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eddieflyer, I guess you feel it worked to speed up the process in your case... but I don't agree that multiple emails, Twitter and calling has much of an impact, except to slow it down for everyone else trying to get their bookings done.

The current process seems to take three to four days. Having to answer double emails (on the same subject), twitter and phone... imagine if everyone did that?

I guess the important question is whether anyone here has actually missed out on seats because LM was too slow? As I said, it appears they make the booking and reserve your seats very quickly, so the award availability is not lost. The rest of the process, while frustratingly slow, doesn't appear to affect the outcome.

Unless others have different data points?
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Old Sep 14, 17, 4:53 pm
  #620  
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: DC
Programs: AS75k, Hilton Diamond, Hyatt Globalist
Posts: 112
I can understand your POV, but I think you're missing that they INSTRUCTED me to send to a different email later. Rather than having that be an available excuse for them, if it's copied to both at the same time, the respective department can deal with it (rather than lead to the chaos that you are suggesting I created)

Also, IME the slow part was them pulling the inventory. The fast part was getting it ticketed.

Last edited by eddieflyer; Sep 14, 17 at 4:58 pm
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Old Sep 14, 17, 6:28 pm
  #621  
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Originally Posted by eddieflyer View Post
I can understand your POV, but I think you're missing that they INSTRUCTED me to send to a different email later. Rather than having that be an available excuse for them, if it's copied to both at the same time, the respective department can deal with it (rather than lead to the chaos that you are suggesting I created)

Also, IME the slow part was them pulling the inventory. The fast part was getting it ticketed.
The requirements to send passport and all the other stuff have been outlined in other threads. But probably not in this one. So it probably does catch people out, but you have given a good run down of what's required in your post above.

I'm not actually sure the slow part is the pulling of the inventory. I'm more convinced that happens pretty quickly, just we, the passenger, don't get notification. My last screen shot the single remaining seat was pulled within an hour of me sending the screenshot. But I didn't hear from the ticketing department until three days later. Repeated emails produced nothing, but the seat was mine. They just had to follow their processes.
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Old Sep 14, 17, 7:27 pm
  #622  
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: DC
Programs: AS75k, Hilton Diamond, Hyatt Globalist
Posts: 112
Originally Posted by LHR/MEL/Europe FF View Post
The requirements to send passport and all the other stuff have been outlined in other threads. But probably not in this one. So it probably does catch people out, but you have given a good run down of what's required in your post above.

I'm not actually sure the slow part is the pulling of the inventory. I'm more convinced that happens pretty quickly, just we, the passenger, don't get notification. My last screen shot the single remaining seat was pulled within an hour of me sending the screenshot. But I didn't hear from the ticketing department until three days later. Repeated emails produced nothing, but the seat was mine. They just had to follow their processes.
Good data point -- but mine differs. The inventory was 2 seats basically up until I got the email (kept trying just in case the website started working). This appears to have been expedited by twitter. Then it was 1 seat.

My interpretation of events suggests to me that it's not "processes" as much as defenses. The outer layer is slow and untrained and acts like any kind of computer support you'll find: they're merely gate keepers trying to funnel the well characterized problem to the right person. The inner layer is the equivalent to the engineer that can solve your problem.

Perhaps the wisdom you are imparting "it takes 4 days, deal with it" should calm future lifemiles users, but I was less calm because a) I was told 24 hours b) I was told conflicting information and different directions multiple times c) my reservation was in days, so slightly more important than securing the LH FCT next December for giggles.

The wisdom I'm trying to impart is "characterize your problem well, and make sure all the gatekeepers get it to avoid any ping-pongs."

All things being equal, its great to know it takes about 4 days - sticky update?

Last edited by eddieflyer; Sep 14, 17 at 7:35 pm
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Old Sep 14, 17, 7:38 pm
  #623  
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LH first class is only available within 14 days to partners, and LM restricts that even further. My screenshot was a for an LH booking 6 days before departure, and it took 4 days to finally get ticketing. But the 1 seat went almost instantly after I sent the screenshot. So it was 'urgent' in that sense, and the four day wait was pretty frustrating, and I too tried all the approaches to try and get it ticketed instantly. But that just wasn't gonna happen. But it turns out, thankfully, I needn't have worried.

However, if your ticketing requirements are 'urgent', I think the bottom line is that you shouldn't rely on LM if your travel is essential. You either need to get an available on-line routing, or purchase a fare. Screen shots are only for the brave.
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Old Sep 15, 17, 1:39 pm
  #624  
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 120
First time trying to use Avianca miles. I have 60,000+ miles.

Two days ago, I checked for availability for 3 business class seats on SWISS for travel from Mumbai (India) to Miami for June 2018. It is 234,000 miles for three tickets, and since you only need 40 percent of the total miles in the account (with the difference in miles to be bought at about 1.5cpm at the time of purchase), I checked -- it did show that I needed a minimum of 94,000 miles and the rest could be bought at the time of the booking.

So I figured I will buy enough miles to get to the 40% limit and buy the rest at the time of actual booking. I was busy yesterday, so tried to buy the remaining 34,000 miles using the 2 for 1 promotion; but I figured, let me check again before I buy the miles.

But, today the interface has changed -- and when I try for the same routing for the same day (I checked on United website both two days ago and today, no change in availability) I get this message:
"The origin/destination entered is not available for the selected airline. Please try with another search"

(When I try Air India for India to USA, same message; only option it shows for India to USA is by Turkish Airlines, and the days it shows will not work for me.)

Any helpful suggestions would be much appreciated.
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Old Sep 15, 17, 1:57 pm
  #625  
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: ZRH/SFO
Programs: A3*G - AZ CFP- HH DIA
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Originally Posted by raghu View Post
But, today the interface has changed -- and when I try for the same routing for the same day (I checked on United website both two days ago and today, no change in availability) I get this message:
"The origin/destination entered is not available for the selected airline. Please try with another search"

(When I try Air India for India to USA, same message; only option it shows for India to USA is by Turkish Airlines, and the days it shows will not work for me.)

Any helpful suggestions would be much appreciated.
Welcomme to Lifemiles... That's how the system works... Never ever wait, if you find a good deal!
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Old Sep 15, 17, 3:24 pm
  #626  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Brisbane
Programs: QF gold, HH Diamond, VA plat, Aegean Gold
Posts: 546
Originally Posted by raghu View Post
First time trying to use Avianca miles. I have 60,000+ miles.

Two days ago, I checked for availability for 3 business class seats on SWISS for travel from Mumbai (India) to Miami for June 2018. It is 234,000 miles for three tickets, and since you only need 40 percent of the total miles in the account (with the difference in miles to be bought at about 1.5cpm at the time of purchase), I checked -- it did show that I needed a minimum of 94,000 miles and the rest could be bought at the time of the booking.

So I figured I will buy enough miles to get to the 40% limit and buy the rest at the time of actual booking. I was busy yesterday, so tried to buy the remaining 34,000 miles using the 2 for 1 promotion; but I figured, let me check again before I buy the miles.

But, today the interface has changed -- and when I try for the same routing for the same day (I checked on United website both two days ago and today, no change in availability) I get this message:
"The origin/destination entered is not available for the selected airline. Please try with another search"

(When I try Air India for India to USA, same message; only option it shows for India to USA is by Turkish Airlines, and the days it shows will not work for me.)

Any helpful suggestions would be much appreciated.
Try the screenshot method and pull something together sector by sector. Description about how to do this a few posts above
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Old Sep 16, 17, 11:37 am
  #627  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: NYC
Programs: UA, AA, SPG - Gold, LM
Posts: 589
New booking interface?

I was just searching for flights and stumbled upon a new interface at Lifemiles website, that gives # of seats available on that flight and only shows 5 days and not the usual 7 days availability.
It gives a breakdown of the miles for each sector, including mixed cabin bookings.
Mixed cabins are priced according to the mix of cabins and not the highest class.
Has anyone seen this?
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Old Sep 16, 17, 11:56 am
  #628  
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
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Yes...
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Old Sep 16, 17, 3:23 pm
  #629  
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Originally Posted by anishub View Post
I was just searching for flights and stumbled upon a new interface at Lifemiles website, that gives # of seats available on that flight and only shows 5 days and not the usual 7 days availability.
It gives a breakdown of the miles for each sector, including mixed cabin bookings.
Mixed cabins are priced according to the mix of cabins and not the highest class.
Has anyone seen this?
Yeah. The new interface has been out for a couple weeks now, but at first it was only visible if you selected 'Argentina' as the place of residence. Now it has been rolled out more widely.
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Old Sep 16, 17, 6:30 pm
  #630  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Sydney, Australia
Programs: UA, QF, VS, AA, US, HH, SPG
Posts: 927
Originally Posted by LHR/MEL/Europe FF View Post
Yeah. The new interface has been out for a couple weeks now, but at first it was only visible if you selected 'Argentina' as the place of residence. Now it has been rolled out more widely.
Funny - I still don't see it - using Safari and Chrome on Mac. Have not bothered to change my location as presumably it will be universal. I'm just hoping that at a few of the most annoying bugs will be fixed - "dream on".
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