Getting the runaround about a mileage upgrade

Old Jun 21, 11, 1:46 pm
  #1  
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Angry Getting the runaround about a mileage upgrade

OK, this is my first post with BA. I've looked back a little and see there are some other threads about upgrades, but my issues are pretty specific. I wanted to get your expert opinion about this.

Background: I found a mistake fare (so I assume) from MIA-BCN way back in Oct. or Nov. for under $600 (economy) all in for July 4-17. Booked it on Orbitz. Last month, I took advantage of the 100K BA Visa signup offer, and I already have my first 50K miles. I researched the BA website thoroughly. My booking is in H class, and thus upgradeable. I read up on it here: http://www.britishairways.com/travel...s/public/en_us
It seems to indicate that you can upgrade from economy to either Plus or Business depending on how many miles you want to spend. Base mileage MIA-BCN is 60K. But elsewhere on the website I saw an option for a part mileage/part payment upgrade.

So--I was unable to do any upgrade on the website--got an error message. Called BA. They were able to put my new BA# on the reservation, but said I'd have to call Executive Club during business hours about the upgrade. I called today; was on hold for 20 minutes. When I finally talked to an agent, she insisted (rather haughtily) that I could only upgrade one cabin. I said the website seemed to indicate otherwise. Then she said that Business was full, anyhow. I said I acknowledge that, but that I thought the website was really misleading. Eventually, she looked at the page, acknowledged that it was confusing, and said that the footnote about the 2 class upgrade only applied to London passengers. I suggested that they add to the footnote "no US departures" or something, and she agreed that would help.

I then proceeded to try to upgrade to Plus. She said she would have to forward the request, then I would have to call back in 48 hours and confirm and pay a change fee. What?! I told her the website gave no indication of any cost for upgrades; she again insisted. When I inquired about the cost, she put me on hold to examine my ticket rules. When she came back, she apologized and said my ticket was not upgradeable because it was booked through a travel agent (Orbitz). It was in the "wrong class." "But H is upgradeable," I argued. "No, the TA would need to book it in P. If you had told her when you booked it that you were going to upgrade, she would have known the rules." She didn't seem to understand that this was an online booking. Evidently, once a TA books it, they "can't touch it." (I've heard this excuse from other airlines.) I reiterated to her that NONE of this was evident anywhere on their website, and it was really unfair to customers to have these semi-secret rules and policies. I was calm and polite and did not raise my voice. She was too, although she tended to get somewhat haughty at times, like she couldn't believe I would question her. She conceded that this was a problem, but offered no resolution. So I went away with nothing for all my work.

Now admittedly, I'm not the dedicated Frequent Flyer that most folks here are. I don't do a lot of upgrading and stuff; I normally use my limited miles for free coach fares. But I'm not totally ignorant, and I do know how to study and research, and I thought this was ridiculous. I mean, asking for a ticket change fee because of a mileage upgrade? Disallowing an upgrade because it was booked by a TA? This all seems like convenient excuses to just avoid giving an upgrade.

So my real questions to you experts are:

1. Is this SOP for BA? Is there anywhere I can get the REAL rules and regulations for using this 100K+ miles I'm going to have? (By the time I finish this trip and use the credit card I'll end up with about 125K.)

2. Is this Executive Club agent correct? Do I have any recourse?

3. To whom would I write a complaint letter about their misleading website and secret policies? Is it even worth it?

Sorry to be so lengthy, but it was kind of a long story.
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Old Jun 21, 11, 1:50 pm
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You can only upgrade one class aboard BA, using either BA or AAdvantage miles. So economy to Premium Economy.

If you upgrade, there can be extra taxes to pay.

You cannot upgrade Travel Agent booked tickets.

The agent is correct in everything you have been told.

Website doesn't seem misleading to me, and there's no secret about all this.

www.ba.com
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Old Jun 21, 11, 1:52 pm
  #3  
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You should have read the Dashboard sticky.

TA bookings are not upgradeable with miles.
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Old Jun 21, 11, 2:03 pm
  #4  
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And now, re-reading the Sticky for Executive club here in this forum, I see the caveat about booking directly with BA to get an upgrade. I DID read that section earlier in my research, but I guess it didn't register. Or perhaps since I didn't see it confirmed anywhere on BA's website, it became airborne and left my brain. I'm STILL not clear after re-reading it about the possibility of a two-class upgrade.

I want to reiterate, though, that the majority of my conversation with this agent was about the fact that I understand and accept that they have rules and policies, and that they can set those as they see fit, but that when it's virtually impossible to find those policies on their website, how can they expect people to abide by them?.

It's just a very unpleasant way to begin my experience with Executive Club.
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Old Jun 21, 11, 2:04 pm
  #5  
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If you would, oscietra, rather than just directing me to the general BA website, link to the actual page where these policies are listed? That would be a great help.

Oh, and she was not talking about taxes, but about an actual change fee (because I specifically inquired about how I didn't understand how there could be a change fee when I was just requesting a mileage upgrade). Perhaps she misspoke.
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Old Jun 21, 11, 2:11 pm
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Two class upgrade is not possible, and it doesn't say anywhere that it is. It does say that you can upgrade from economy to club, but only for european flights, to club europe.

The website is very clear, perhaps it would be easier to read if you took your time. As for travel agent bookings, I would draw your attention to the travel agents conditions, as that is who you have a contract with.
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Old Jun 21, 11, 2:15 pm
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Originally Posted by hotturnip View Post
OK, this is my first post with BA.
Welcome to the BA fold...

Originally Posted by hotturnip View Post
When I finally talked to an agent, she insisted (rather haughtily) that I could only upgrade one cabin. I said the website seemed to indicate otherwise.
It does say "1.Miles for Upgrade bookings can only be made online at ba.com or direct with British Airways. An existing booking can be upgraded up until check in online at ba.com or by contacting your local service centre or sales office. A Miles for Upgrade cannot be booked at airport ticket desks. The upgrade is a single cabin upgrade from Euro Traveller to Club Europe, World Traveller to World Traveller Plus (where fitted on the aircraft), World Traveller to Club World (where World Traveller Plus is not fitted on the aircraft), World Traveller Plus to Club World, Club World to First."

Originally Posted by hotturnip View Post
I then proceeded to try to upgrade to Plus. She said she would have to forward the request, then I would have to call back in 48 hours and confirm and pay a change fee. What?! I told her the website gave no indication of any cost for upgrades; she again insisted. When I inquired about the cost, she put me on hold to examine my ticket rules. When she came back, she apologized and said my ticket was not upgradeable because it was booked through a travel agent (Orbitz).
It is covered in the rules (my bolding):
"2.Miles for Upgrade is permitted on eligible British Airways published fares only (Fare classes are: J, C, D, R, I, W, E, T, Y, B, H) but is not permitted on bookings made with a travel agent. Miles for Upgrade is not permitted where flights are sold as part of a package holiday or where flights and ground arrangements, such as prepaid hotels, cars, transfers and experiences, are booked and paid for in the same transaction. Flights booked and paid for separately from any ground arrangements remain eligible for Miles for Upgrade. Miles for Upgrade can only be applied to bookings which are made in the member's Executive Club membership country. "

Originally Posted by hotturnip View Post
So my real questions to you experts are:

1. Is this SOP for BA? Is there anywhere I can get the REAL rules and regulations for using this 100K+ miles I'm going to have? (By the time I finish this trip and use the credit card I'll end up with about 125K.)

2. Is this Executive Club agent correct? Do I have any recourse?

3. To whom would I write a complaint letter about their misleading website and secret policies? Is it even worth it?

Sorry to be so lengthy, but it was kind of a long story.
1. Please see the rules in the links above.

2. Yes. Did you advise Orbitz you wanted to use miles to upgrade? I guess not as they're online, in which case I'm afraid I don't think you have recourse.

3. They aren't secret policies, but the terms and conditions. You can contact customer relations here.

I hope that you enjoy the trip regardless. I know how much it hurts when we get tripped up by terms and conditions, but when we all tick the box that says we understand the terms we have to accept the consequences.
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Old Jun 21, 11, 2:16 pm
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I think she misspoke. APD tax is charged by the UK govt. on Premium cabins; upgrading with miles triggers an additional charge - even AA has to levy this for flights exUK.

There may also have been a modest offline fee for arranging the upgrade on the phone, as is the case with many airlines these days.

Here are the T&Cs, which are pretty clear:

http://www.britishairways.com/travel...deba#upgradeba

It's a shame you were disappointed, but it's still a good deal on the airfare and you can often upgrade for cash at check in or through Manage My Booking at ba.com
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Old Jun 21, 11, 2:19 pm
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perhaps it would be easier to read if you took your time.
Now wait just a minute. There is no need to be insulting. I spent a great deal of time looking for this info, and couldn't find it. The two class upgrade seems clearly possible in the link that I provided; as a newbie I did not know that "Euro Traveler" was not equivalent to what I was doing.

I'm asking very nicely (I think) for advice and humbly admitting my novice status, and I immediately seem to be getting attacked. Furthermore, those who are saying the website is just oh-so-clear have not yet provided links. I would welcome those, since it would really help me in my future use.

Please, I'm not looking for trouble. Just reasonable responses that don't treat me as though I'm contemptible for my lack of knowledge (although this being Flyertalk, perhaps I should have known better).
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Old Jun 21, 11, 2:26 pm
  #10  
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Wow, you guys are fast!

THANK YOU, Andy and Oscietra, for the links. That's EXACTLY what I needed. I looked and looked for that and couldn't find it. I wish they would link to that from the page that I was looking at. Maybe someone from BA will see this and suggest it. (I know I've seen that on other wesites--a "Terms and Conditions" link that goes back to a central page.) I would say also that the helpful and sympathetic tone is a lot more productive that the initial responses.

With that information I should be better prepared for using all those miles later on.
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Old Jun 21, 11, 2:30 pm
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Originally Posted by hotturnip View Post
I would say also that the helpful and sympathetic tone is a lot more productive that the initial responses.
.
I think you overreacted to the responses.
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Old Jun 21, 11, 2:30 pm
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this is one of those rules you only learn once the hard way. i too did but never again!!
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Old Jun 21, 11, 2:33 pm
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Originally Posted by HIDDY View Post
I think you overreacted to the responses.
I agree. No one was being disrespectful or rude IMO. Just stating a fact to be clear on the information available. I agree there is a lot inthe sticky but I think you have had some very constructive advice and positive answers to your questions. No one is "attacking you".
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Old Jun 21, 11, 2:38 pm
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Sorry if you felt my response was dismissive, but I could see the answer to one of your concerns, and was able to help with that easily. Unfortunately, posting from my phone prevents a complete answer in the style of others. That said, the information is all there, and a slow, careful read would have told you ask you wanted.
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Old Jun 21, 11, 2:46 pm
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I think it's really just cultural differences; British English, when written properly , can seem quite abrupt to those who are not used to it.
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