Lifemiles serious booking problems - Beware

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Old Aug 2, 18, 2:27 am   -   Wikipost
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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 May 15, 19, 6:19 am
  #1246  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 250
Screenshot method.
Had anybody success to do it for 3 segments?
AAA-BBB-CCC-DDD
Where BBB-CCC and CCC-DDD are available but nut BBB-CCC-DDD.
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Old May 15, 19, 6:29 am
  #1247  
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Originally Posted by MultiFlyer View Post
Screenshot method.
Had anybody success to do it for 3 segments?
AAA-BBB-CCC-DDD
Where BBB-CCC and CCC-DDD are available but nut BBB-CCC-DDD.
The key is likely to be whether there is anything available for AAA-DDD.

For the screenshot method you can have multiple segments (more than two), but the additional screenshot has to show no availability for the entire itinerary.

Always worth a shot, but if they come back with a rejection it may not be an unreasonable one.
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Old May 15, 19, 4:34 pm
  #1248  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 100
Originally Posted by LHR/MEL/Europe FF View Post
The key is likely to be whether there is anything available for AAA-DDD.

For the screenshot method you can have multiple segments (more than two), but the additional screenshot has to show no availability for the entire itinerary.

Always worth a shot, but if they come back with a rejection it may not be an unreasonable one.
I've done it AA-BB-CC-DD-EE because AA-EE has no tickets available (They never show connections to/from Australia), and this was probably 10 days ago.

And now I'm trying to book NRT-ICN-PEK-MEL/SYD which is honestly a fairly simple and straight itinerary... it's been freaking dragging for two weeks (!) with agents trying to shoot me down twice. I was already annoyed by the delay (of the full week) and PEK-MEL seats were gone so I have to go PEK-SYD (no other flights to MEL available for Aug'19). After another full week's wait yesterday they're shooting me down again claiming internal policies of which I've replied and challenged their reason.

Now planning to escalate this issue.... Their agents are hopeless. Similar itinerary is probably a 5min job if done via US, UA and AA (and I've phoned all three here..... US and UA are already known to bad and slow agents but they're far better than LM in this regard). Anyone knows their CEO Matt Vincett's email or maybe somewhere that I can escalate the issue to?

Cheers,
Michael

Last edited by eamond; May 15, 19 at 4:40 pm
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Old May 15, 19, 6:41 pm
  #1249  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Sydney, Australia
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Posts: 935
I've found that arguing via e-mail with LM support is a total waste of time - even when you are blatantly correct they continue to respond with non-sensical reasons why you can't do something. I had an ongoing argument with them after they overcharged my by 15,000 miles for an award booking (via screen shots) - I finally gave up.

Really, I wish we could send the CEO (or head of Customer Services) a petition outlining all of our (major) issues with LM - they probably can't figure out why they are having a hard time selling miles. It would be nice to even get a response to such a petition.

BTW - my main issues are:-
  • Valid connections not showing up requiring screenshots particularly ex-Australia
  • Website erroring out during the booking process
  • Itineraries which are valid on other airlines' websites (e.g. UA, AC) not showing up (I'm not talking about different availability) just some/many possible itineraries are just not found by LM (of course sometimes a screenshot can work in these cases).
  • The Australia "tax" e.g. OZ-Asia requires 10,000 more miles than Asia-OZ
  • Excessive fees for change and/or cancel - $150 or $200 (USD) - probably higher than any other program and while I'm at it - changes are very limited even when paying the $150.
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Old May 15, 19, 7:06 pm
  #1250  
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 3,135
LOL at your escalation ideas
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Old May 16, 19, 4:50 pm
  #1251  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 100
Originally Posted by pschafer View Post
I've found that arguing via e-mail with LM support is a total waste of time - even when you are blatantly correct they continue to respond with non-sensical reasons why you can't do something. I had an ongoing argument with them after they overcharged my by 15,000 miles for an award booking (via screen shots) - I finally gave up.

Really, I wish we could send the CEO (or head of Customer Services) a petition outlining all of our (major) issues with LM - they probably can't figure out why they are having a hard time selling miles. It would be nice to even get a response to such a petition.

BTW - my main issues are:-
  • Valid connections not showing up requiring screenshots particularly ex-Australia
  • Website erroring out during the booking process
  • Itineraries which are valid on other airlines' websites (e.g. UA, AC) not showing up (I'm not talking about different availability) just some/many possible itineraries are just not found by LM (of course sometimes a screenshot can work in these cases).
  • The Australia "tax" e.g. OZ-Asia requires 10,000 more miles than Asia-OZ
  • Excessive fees for change and/or cancel - $150 or $200 (USD) - probably higher than any other program and while I'm at it - changes are very limited even when paying the $150.
And now with TG/OZ pulling the plug re reward seat the real choice to/from Australia is really quite limited to Air China (unless SQ gives a seat which is quite often for Sydneysiders on= SQ288 but not on the day I wanted, and I'm based in MEL which makes things even worse). LM has an ongoing issue with CA's redemption ticket apparently, first by a straight blocking their availability and now just don't let you issue a damn ticket (btw my itinerary combines OZ/CA flight; if it's all CA think it's better but just don't want to go all-CA).

I'm really in a frigging hell mode (excuse my french) atm but choices are really limited so I'm more tempted to do one letter like that. Apparently their personal email format is something like [email protected] so I may give that a go-ahead.

Anyway, does anyone knows where to search SQ reward seats other than LM websites? Cheers.

Michael
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Old May 16, 19, 7:52 pm
  #1252  
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Posts: 13,483
Originally Posted by pschafer View Post
I've found that arguing via e-mail with LM support is a total waste of time - even when you are blatantly correct they continue to respond with non-sensical reasons why you can't do something. I had an ongoing argument with them after they overcharged my by 15,000 miles for an award booking (via screen shots) - I finally gave up.

Really, I wish we could send the CEO (or head of Customer Services) a petition outlining all of our (major) issues with LM - they probably can't figure out why they are having a hard time selling miles. It would be nice to even get a response to such a petition.

BTW - my main issues are:-
  • Valid connections not showing up requiring screenshots particularly ex-Australia
  • Website erroring out during the booking process
  • Itineraries which are valid on other airlines' websites (e.g. UA, AC) not showing up (I'm not talking about different availability) just some/many possible itineraries are just not found by LM (of course sometimes a screenshot can work in these cases).
  • The Australia "tax" e.g. OZ-Asia requires 10,000 more miles than Asia-OZ
  • Excessive fees for change and/or cancel - $150 or $200 (USD) - probably higher than any other program and while I'm at it - changes are very limited even when paying the $150.
I don’t have an issue with most of these. UA issues some fairly convoluted itineraries that I wouldn’t necessarily hold as the benchmark or expect others to provide. Overall I find LM’s routing rules to be in line with the majority of other FF programs (they all have their restrictions... AA with its zones, SQ with their backtracking, and so on).

The $200 cancellation fee is annoying, but it must stop speculative bookings to some degree. I disagree with people holding multiple award seats so they can make up their mind later.

The website error-ing out does happen with connections between airlines, but should be able to be booked by the call centre (as they can see the same thing we can).
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Old May 16, 19, 11:42 pm
  #1253  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Programs: IHG Plat, Hilton Gold, Accor Gold, Marriott Silver
Posts: 3,999
Originally Posted by LHR/MEL/Europe FF View Post
The website error-ing out does happen with connections between airlines, but should be able to be booked by the call centre (as they can see the same thing we can).
It's super-slow and super-tedious. What should be a 5-min process online turns into an hour-long phone call over Skype or Google Talk. (Or some much more expensive option.)

And the search engine itself is appalling. Having to use the screenshot method for a single connection on a single carrier is just absurd.
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Old May 17, 19, 5:11 am
  #1254  
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Join Date: Jan 2011
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Programs: UA 1K, AA EXP; Starriott Ambassador; Hyatt Globalist; IHG Spire Amb; Hilton Diamond; Accor Gold
Posts: 2,521
Originally Posted by pschafer View Post
I've found that arguing via e-mail with LM support is a total waste of time - even when you are blatantly correct they continue to respond with non-sensical reasons why you can't do something. I had an ongoing argument with them after they overcharged my by 15,000 miles for an award booking (via screen shots) - I finally gave up.

Really, I wish we could send the CEO (or head of Customer Services) a petition outlining all of our (major) issues with LM - they probably can't figure out why they are having a hard time selling miles. It would be nice to even get a response to such a petition.

BTW - my main issues are:-
  • Valid connections not showing up requiring screenshots particularly ex-Australia
  • Website erroring out during the booking process
  • Itineraries which are valid on other airlines' websites (e.g. UA, AC) not showing up (I'm not talking about different availability) just some/many possible itineraries are just not found by LM (of course sometimes a screenshot can work in these cases).
  • The Australia "tax" e.g. OZ-Asia requires 10,000 more miles than Asia-OZ
  • Excessive fees for change and/or cancel - $150 or $200 (USD) - probably higher than any other program and while I'm at it - changes are very limited even when paying the $150.
I'm pretty sure they're not having a hard time selling miles. I know many people who happily stock up, and I am included in that list. Yeah they're a pain to use… but come on… I just paid 82k miles + $30 for USA-Europe in LH F. Net cost of that with purchased miles is like $1100. Insane deal.
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Old May 17, 19, 8:15 am
  #1255  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 100
Originally Posted by Kremmen View Post
It's super-slow and super-tedious. What should be a 5-min process online turns into an hour-long phone call over Skype or Google Talk. (Or some much more expensive option.)

And the search engine itself is appalling. Having to use the screenshot method for a single connection on a single carrier is just absurd.
And guess what, in too many circumstances you won't even get what you want.

I've just spent 20 minutes calling a LM support centre and trying to query what was going on with my NRT-ICN-PEK-MEL query up in the thread. Absolutely helpless and hopeless, although the person himself isn't too bad. Their departments don't talk with each other at all, so no chance in hell getting any luck chasing or even just asking them to do a favour.

This is despite the fact that I've been waiting for 2wks+, with emails back and forth, and have to change the routing once due to all the delays and subsequent loss of award spaces.

Michael
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Old May 20, 19, 6:46 am
  #1256  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 100
Hey folks, after being so sick with their speed of reply and the incompetence and unwillingness to help (we can never trust their words; the last correspondence I received was on Thursday and they work 7 days a week) I have investigated and sent an email to what I believe was LM CEO's email address. Will keep you updated on the matter.

Michael
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Old May 20, 19, 7:20 am
  #1257  
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Originally Posted by eamond View Post
Hey folks, after being so sick with their speed of reply and the incompetence and unwillingness to help (we can never trust their words; the last correspondence I received was on Thursday and they work 7 days a week) I have investigated and sent an email to what I believe was LM CEO's email address. Will keep you updated on the matter.

Michael
I think I missed one of your earlier posts... but are you saying CA/CA was available TYO-PEK-MEL but you wanted OZ/CA instead?

I don't think it is unreasonable for LM to want to put you on the most direct routing if that's the case.

While LM might be there 7 days a week, the manual booking department is not. AFAIK they only work 5 days a week, and it's something like 9 or 10am local time (not always 8am as advertised).

Unfortunately as you've found out, it's very rare to be able to get through to the manual booking department (I think I might have heard of only one case where someone managed this). They work to their own schedule.

Overall I find LM agents pretty good. Yes it can be frustrating trying to get a response from the manual booking department, but i don't think that would be any different with any other airline (getting beyond the call centre to some back room operations would be fairly hard).
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Old May 20, 19, 7:25 am
  #1258  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 100
Originally Posted by LHR/MEL/Europe FF View Post
I think I missed one of your earlier posts... but are you saying CA/CA was available TYO-PEK-MEL but you wanted OZ/CA instead?

I don't think it is unreasonable for LM to want to put you on the most direct routing if that's the case.

While LM might be there 7 days a week, the manual booking department is not. AFAIK they only work 5 days a week, and it's something like 9 or 10am local time (not always 8am as advertised).

Unfortunately as you've found out, it's very rare to be able to get through to the manual booking department (I think I might have heard of only one case where someone managed this). They work to their own schedule.

Overall I find LM agents pretty good. Yes it can be frustrating trying to get a response from the manual booking department, but i don't think that would be any different with any other airline (getting beyond the call centre to some back room operations would be fairly hard).
No CA-CA direct is not available and even if they offered me CA-CA I might have just accepted that. (for the sake of not ruining my holiday)

And last time when I receive my booking it was on a Saturday evening so I assume they actually work - although as you've said must be on their own schedule but anyway. I played around with points with BA, BD, US, AA & UA previously (and together with QF since I'm based in Oz) and none of them are as imcompetent as AV's ones.

The point is, if their website's competent enough we can save so much drama that we're having on this thread!

Cheers
Michael
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Old May 20, 19, 7:39 am
  #1259  
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Originally Posted by eamond View Post
No CA-CA direct is not available and even if they offered me CA-CA I might have just accepted that. (for the sake of not ruining my holiday)

And last time when I receive my booking it was on a Saturday evening so I assume they actually work - although as you've said must be on their own schedule but anyway. I played around with points with BA, BD, US, AA & UA previously (and together with QF since I'm based in Oz) and none of them are as imcompetent as AV's ones.

The point is, if their website's competent enough we can save so much drama that we're having on this thread!

Cheers
Michael
i agree there's a lot that could be done to improve the LM booking engine. But these problems have been going on for years! It's the risk most of us have accepted by now and it's probably never going to change.

There are occasionally some pretty big benefits though... LM had TG availability when it was completely blocked by UA a few months ago. And there was the glitch opening Lufthansa first class for booking a whole year in advance. Also some pretty neat deals for 72K miles F class Asia to USA. No one can compete with those prices.
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Old May 21, 19, 8:14 am
  #1260  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 663
Originally Posted by LHR/MEL/Europe FF View Post
i agree there's a lot that could be done to improve the LM booking engine. But these problems have been going on for years! It's the risk most of us have accepted by now and it's probably never going to change.

There are occasionally some pretty big benefits though... LM had TG availability when it was completely blocked by UA a few months ago. And there was the glitch opening Lufthansa first class for booking a whole year in advance. Also some pretty neat deals for 72K miles F class Asia to USA. No one can compete with those prices.
If this was too easy to use and user friendly, it would likely go away quickly. This is a blessing in disguise. LH F for these prices is very good. The screenshot method seems tedious and I haven't tried it, but has anyone successfully booked mixed carriers via phone that do not appear online recently? also economy from us1 to eur1 for 20k all the time is pretty great, just hard to book mixed carrier.
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