My First Pres Platinum Experiences

 
Old Dec 17, 10, 5:32 am
  #1  
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Thumbs down My First Pres Platinum Experiences

I made PP on flight from PBI-EWR-LHR-CAI on November 29/30.

Flew home CAI-FRA-EWR-CLE yesterday.

Had to make a flight change from Monday departure to Thursday departure. Called PP number, got an agent first ring of the phone, However she took 47 minutes to make the change (I found the flights on-line but co.com couldn't book it most likely due to CAI-FRA being LH). I was booked in Discounted business class tickets initially, but due to the last minute change, said I had to pay the fare increase to full business. That's fine and expected.

However getting to airport, she actually booked me to paid FIRST on LH, never told me this, so I paid a lot more than I probly should have (boarding pass printed F as the fare class). Had also requested she upgrade a colleague from economy to business, she put her in same deal - PAID FIRST. Never received email itinerary, just saw the ressie in my profile, so didn't pay attention. OK maybe my fault. But still. But the hge seat/flat bed combo was a welcome ammenity on that 4:40 am 4 hour flight :-)

While on the phone she told me the final leg EWR-CLE was booked in F, so booked me to economy, full Y fare. I was fine figuring as PP and full Y I'd make 1st on upgrade list as EAU anyhow so no biggie, and worst case it's only an hour in the air anyhow I can suck it up, just get me home!

Anyway, after 47 minutes, I asked can you just call me back or email me when done, as I was calling international on cell phone and couldn't take the charges any more...and CO's numbers to call in Egypt are just a travel agency there, who has yet to ever answer the phone when I call it (8 trips this year). She said sure, but I never got the email or phone call.

So anyhow... Fly CAI-FRA check CO PDA sight to see my upgrade status on the EWR-CLE leg, and I'm not upgraded, nor am I even on the upgrade standby list, 1 person has been upgraded, 22 others on the waiting list. Call PP line, they said, the cabin is booked full (was not checked in full) and they don't wait list. I'm a bit dumbfounded and finally say, but shouldn't I be on the standard EAU upgrade list, given I'm PP and on a Y ticket (heck shouldn't the Y been Automatically Elite upgraded anyway under the YBM upgrade scheme...?) She does some typing and gets me on the list, #2. Whatever, it's entirely possible theres another PP/Y pax ahead of me, or a displaced F customer. By the time the the EWR-CLE boards, i'm 4 on the list, and a 2nd person was upgraded. Assume displaced F but who could tell (or the dreaded TOD upgrades???). There goes my 100% upgrade success rate for the year!

Board FRA-EWR flight, the concierge doesn't ever even greet any PAX, let alone thank me or anyone else for the business. Prior to landing no crew does anything either. Some flights they bend over backwards almost to the point of being annoying thanking you for flying. Heck when I asked for my executive meal, and asked them to wait just a few moments while I used restroom prior to getting it, the flight attendant snipped and took it away as if I was a huge problem to him. Also noted that ship no. 18 777 seat 11 E the seat has issues, and it did when I was on it 3 weeks ago too, still not fixed even though I reported it then and this flight they were having maintenance stare at it to fix it making it seem as if they actually are trying to fix it.

CO INSIDER: GET SOMEONE TO FIX 11E on ship number 18!!!!! 3 weeks should be enough time already! Light controller not working, motorized seat controls out (they show you how to do it manually what a joke).

So made it home, go thru mail, no welcome packet or anything. Heck, never even received an email thank you or welcome.

So long story short, noting amazing at all about PP, at least they answer the phone, but don't seem any more knowledgeable there than anyplace else given the 47 minutes it took to make a flight change. They missed the boat completely marketing wise by even sending any messaging in the mail etc.

On the call I had to explain to the agent that flight 51 was FRA-EWR-CLE, and she could probably get me in BF on FRA-EWR even if EWR-CLE was booked, first she said I'd have to go economy all the way. She seemed clueless about a flight stopping and changing aircraft.

Will any of this change my flying decisions? No. I appreciate the clean planes and generally consistent core services, and the route map that they fly where I want to go, and my luggage has well over 99% delivery rates, but it's a shame what could be such an important program, is really nothing more than smoke and mirrors - and done poorly with dirty mirrors !

Last edited by cbechdel; Dec 17, 10 at 8:26 am
cbechdel is offline  
Old Dec 17, 10, 7:05 am
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by cbechdel View Post
Will any of this change my flying decisions? No. I appreciate the clean planes and generally consistent core services, and the route map that they fly where I want to go, and my luggage has well over 99% delivery rates, but it's a shame what could be such an important program, is really nothing more than smoke and mirrors - and done poorly with dirty mirrors !
I suspect if someone at CO is reading this, they'll go right to your last paragraph and ignore the rest. Sounds like you got a dud agent. I suggest next time you call back, and call collect as they will accept international collect calls from countries where there's no local toll free number.

CO announced the PPlat program late last year, got people like me to rack up big spending (where there were *A biz class alternatives), then rolled out the program (late) at about the same time that they changed other parts of the OP program. Like lower level elites on higher fares and anyone upgrading with miles having priority for upgrades over you. Then selling ELR seats at the time of booking to anyone.

Others may have different experiences, but for me, PPlat has been a bust.

Next year I will still make Platinum, but I will fly CO only on nonstop domestic routes where US doesn't have a flight. Any BF flight where there is a *A non-stop (or same # of connections as CO) alternative, I will take the alternative. For example, I will go to MNL 3 times next year, and instead of $8k each on CO via HKG, I'll go SQ via SIN. Same elite mileage but no $$ on CO. This way, I'll build up RWU's and SWU's for use on those domestic transcon CO flights I do take.

If your experience turns out to be the same as mine, you might want to consider a similar approach. If not, and, despite the travel experience you referenced, you do get T-6 upgrades, etc., then I'll be happy for you.
tarheelnj is offline  
Old Dec 17, 10, 7:32 am
  #3  
 
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Yeah PPlat is overrated. I was 10th on the upgrade list on a BOS-EWR last week. Free PPlus card membership is gone. The direct line is nice in theory, but the last two times I've called I hung up after waiting on hold for 10 minutes (maybe they underestimated how many people could spend $30k now that fares have gone up so much).

In short, wasn't worth gunning for $30k of spend this year by staying exclusively continental on Int'l BF routes. Next year getting 100k plat will be enough.

Unfortunately I'm stuck w/ CO since I live in NJ, so can't easily shoot for EXP on AA as many advocate.
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Old Dec 17, 10, 8:06 am
  #4  
 
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It sounds as if PPlat isn't all it's cracked up to be. I know precious little about United GS, but it sounds as if in 2012 those two programs will merge and GS will be the surviving "high dollar customer" loyalty program that survives.

Is United GS better? Worth investing in for 2011? I may find myself making regular runs to Asia in the next year, and would be interested to hear anyone's experiences; perhaps the question is better put to the Mileage Plus board.
SeaRaptor is offline  
Old Dec 17, 10, 8:31 am
  #5  
 
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Agree - Pres Plat is nothing special.

I've been presidential platinum since the day it launched in September, and outside of the phone line, it's been underwhelming. Upgrade % is somewhere around 33%. The main benefit (at least to me) - the Presidential Plus MC - has vanished. I've been flying some internationally on Delta lately, and I definitely prefer connecting in ATL to EWR or FRA. The FAs have been consistently better than EWR-based crews. After a decade as a CO elite, I'm thinking hard about shifting all of my intl travel (the bulk of the $40k I've spent on CO this year) to DL. Since I don't get upgraded 2/3rds of the time on CO, sitting in coach on CO domestic flights won't be much of a change.
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Old Dec 17, 10, 8:38 am
  #6  
 
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Originally Posted by SeaRaptor View Post
Is United GS better? Worth investing in for 2011?
Probably better to ask someone with experience, but I've read on this Board several times that $30k won't get you anywhere close to GS.

For others in NJ, I wouldn't expect the domestic experience to be any different from PPlat now, GS or not.
tarheelnj is offline  
Old Dec 17, 10, 8:58 am
  #7  
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Originally Posted by SeaRaptor View Post
It sounds as if PPlat isn't all it's cracked up to be. I know precious little about United GS, but it sounds as if in 2012 those two programs will merge and GS will be the surviving "high dollar customer" loyalty program that survives.

Is United GS better? Worth investing in for 2011? I may find myself making regular runs to Asia in the next year, and would be interested to hear anyone's experiences; perhaps the question is better put to the Mileage Plus board.
GS is "better" in the sense that you will never have mileage/instrument/lower elite YBs ahead of you (and you will never get TOD') - only GS' on higher fares will be ahead. GS is king on UA, as they should be (they do spend a ton of money on the airline and subsidize everyone else).

$50K seems to be the general baseline for GS (but it's secret). My $30K spend on UA this year won't cut it.

From experiences here, it seems like CO has royally dropped the ball on PPlat. But the bigger issue is the upgrade priority and last minute short-sighted TOD offers.
UA-NYC is offline  
Old Dec 17, 10, 10:20 am
  #8  
 
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Another disappointed PP

I also focused some travel to get to the spending threshold, in part based on the promise, announced in this very forum, the PP would have the highest upgrade priority. Not only was that promise broken, but upgrade priority is now worse than it was as a Plat.

I am already moving CO to second choice status.
dsweet is offline  
Old Dec 17, 10, 10:31 am
  #9  
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GS is better in many senses:

PPlat benefits (above Plat):
Higher upgrade priority
$400 savings on Presidential CC.
more exclusive res desk

GS Benefits:
Highest upgrade priority
Arrivals Lounges
Use miles/instruments to upgrade reward tickets
dedicated security lanes and dedicated airport personnel

"Unpublished" bennies:
force-onto a sold out flight
forcing upgrade/reward inventory and converting NC to XC and NF/XF space


so you might ask yourself, what good is PP if CO is more than happy to sell an upgrade for ToD, or put a silver on a B-fare in front of you on an H fare?

GS was well-thought out to cater to the most valuable travelers. Keeping them comfortable, smoothing the travel process wherever they can, and getting them where they need to go as fast as possible. PPlat is just another elite level.
entropy is offline  
Old Dec 17, 10, 10:32 am
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
GS is "better" in the sense that you will never have mileage/instrument/lower elite YBs ahead of you (and you will never get TOD') - only GS' on higher fares will be ahead. GS is king on UA, as they should be (they do spend a ton of money on the airline and subsidize everyone else).

$50K seems to be the general baseline for GS (but it's secret). My $30K spend on UA this year won't cut it.

From experiences here, it seems like CO has royally dropped the ball on PPlat. But the bigger issue is the upgrade priority and last minute short-sighted TOD offers.
At least for another year, GS are safe on UA. I do wonder what Smisek has up his sleeve when the merger completes. Afterall, on CO, things are a lot different.

And as far as PPlat was concerned, I suspected from the start that it wouldn't be worth it. Unfortunately for some of you, it sounds like that turned out to be true. I like Tarheel's game plan.
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Old Dec 17, 10, 10:51 am
  #11  
 
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As a PPlat from Day 1, I also agree with many of the sentiments here. Overall, this has been the "benefits" that I've realized thus far:

1. The PPlat Priority line is usually good, despite the OP's terrible experience. They always pick up on the first ring and my experience has been that the agents are very knowledgeable and friendly.

2. A few weeks after the program started, the lady checking IDs at the mid-concourse Term C Pres Club at EWR scanned my card and said something along the lines of "Thanks for traveling today and we appreciate your loyalty to Continental. Is there anything we can do to make your stay more pleasant today?". I hung around and didn't notice her saying this to anyone else, so I presume she said this because I was PPlat. Otherwise, in probably 25 flights since the program was introduced, not ONE single CO employee has ever recognized my status.

3. Upgrades have been a flop. I just started doing straight F and M/B/Y-up tix as of about mid-October. Being PPlat doesn't help you get around the "tens of dollars" upgrade issue discussed many times in this forum.

4. The best benefit, by far, has been their proactive re-scheduling of flights for me. Now, I've had this happen to me in the past as a regular Plat on rare occasions, but they seem to take this more serious now. On a weekend in Key West, weather was going to cause me to miss my connection in TPA, so they tried to call me multiple times to reschedule a flight that would work for me. After trying 2 times to reach me, they rebooked the entire party on a an alternate itinerary and then finally reached me afterward. There was a another similar instance of this when a flight of mine was canceled due to MX issues out of EWR...I got a phone call asking how they could rebook me.

Comical tidbit - after an emergency landing due to a smoking cockpit (described here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/conti...long-post.html), my non-status friend sitting next to me got an email apologizing for the incident and 500 OP Miles to "make up for it" (woopee!). As for me, I didn't get the email or the miles...
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Old Dec 17, 10, 10:57 am
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this thread is very depressing for this newbie pplat. i guess all you really get is luggage tags.
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Old Dec 17, 10, 11:42 am
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by bearkatt View Post
this thread is very depressing for this newbie pplat. i guess all you really get is luggage tags.
Yup. I finally got mine yesterday (2.5 months after making it) - the luggage tags aren't even personalized.

I feel similarly to others in this group. While my upgrade percentage is high, that is because I buy YBM fares 90% of the time. But I started shifting my overseas traveling to CO - often taking older (not lay flat) 777s, or crappy 767s. Not really interested in doing that anymore. I'd rather fly AC or SQ. Heck, sometimes I'd even rather fly UA, and I don't think the revenue credit there even counts!
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Old Dec 17, 10, 12:04 pm
  #14  
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Originally Posted by cbechdel View Post
Will any of this change my flying decisions? No. I appreciate the clean planes and generally consistent core services, and the route map that they fly where I want to go, and my luggage has well over 99% delivery rates, but it's a shame what could be such an important program, is really nothing more than smoke and mirrors - and done poorly with dirty mirrors !
And therein lies the problem. While CO may be trying to create a high-spend loyalty tier, in reality, their customer base is often captive and loyal regardless.

That's why for the past few years CO has maintained their marketing focus while ignoring any sort of substance behind it.


Originally Posted by entropy View Post
"Unpublished" bennies:
force-onto a sold out flight
forcing upgrade/reward inventory and converting NC to XC and NF/XF space
I understand they're also able to pull in a just-pushed-back plane if a GS is running to the gate.


Originally Posted by chrisjur View Post
2. A few weeks after the program started, the lady checking IDs at the mid-concourse Term C Pres Club at EWR scanned my card and said something along the lines of "Thanks for traveling today and we appreciate your loyalty to Continental. Is there anything we can do to make your stay more pleasant today?". I hung around and didn't notice her saying this to anyone else, so I presume she said this because I was PPlat. Otherwise, in probably 25 flights since the program was introduced, not ONE single CO employee has ever recognized my status.

Heck, I even called US the other night, and they thanked me for being a Star Gold! I don't even have a mileage account -- they saw that off the reservation.

I think the fundamental problem is cultural at CO. CO simply has not trained its employees to factor status into their decision-making or interactions.

It's very obvious when you fly other carriers that they are able to do this, yet CO just does not.
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Old Dec 17, 10, 12:06 pm
  #15  
 
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Originally Posted by timg View Post
Yup. I finally got mine yesterday (2.5 months after making it) - the luggage tags aren't even personalized.
The other concerns with the PPlat status may or may not be valid, but it seems a little cheap to whine about something you weren't promised in the first place....
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