Asking for SkySaver reclassification?

 
Old Jul 8, 05, 11:03 pm
  #1  
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Asking for SkySaver reclassification?

Are there any useful approaches for asking to have a seat or two reclassified to SkySaver?

My wife and I want to go to Seattle (from Tallahassee) the weekend before Thanksgiving. I've done it before with no trouble, but as expected the award seats are much tighter now. I can find SkySavers on the outbound by pushing the date back to Wednesday the 16th, but no SkySavers at all on Sunday or Monday the 20th or 21st. Of course starting the Tuesday before T'day it's completely hopeless. (Actually looking all the way out to next May it's very hard to find SkySavers.)

With only 150,000 miles to spend, I'd really rather not use 2/3 of them on one trip ... though I understand that this probably isn't too bad a deal and that I should be valuing them at only 1 cent/mile now rather than the traditional 2 cent/mile.

I called and spoke with an agent and asked, and the answer was a flat "we never reclassify". Insisted on talking with a supervisor and got the same answer. Well actually the answer was "it's impossible", and I probably didn't score any points by asking if it would be possible if the Delta CEO called and said do it. They aren't paid to engage in philosophical logic.

So are there any approaches worth trying to get them to shake loose a couple of SkySaver seats? Or am I stuck using double miles? It's not worth $800 to us to make the trip, the minimum it would cost for real tickets. If we decide not to take any of the currently available options, I might check when the time gets close, but there is some T'day pressure by the Sunday before so it's unlikely to open up -- a week earlier would be different.

I don't have much weight to swing around compared with a lot of people here -- half a million lifetime miles is a lot more than the average vacationer but not a heavyweight business traveler. Do I carry any weight at all? Haven't made Medallion in several years, partly because NWA now has a lot of competing flights with better schedules from TLH. But NWA is just as tight on the awards and I don't have enough miles to consider the double miles award on NWA.

Oh, and I've tried leaving from JAX, MCO, ATL. No better luck. Used to be that connections to TLH were the first flights to fill, but now it's the long haul segments. TLH flights will fill up after the students get back in August or September.

Edward
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Old Jul 8, 05, 11:20 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by paleolith
I called and spoke with an agent and asked, and the answer was a flat "we never reclassify". Insisted on talking with a supervisor and got the same answer. Well actually the answer was "it's impossible", and I probably didn't score any points by asking if it would be possible if the Delta CEO called and said do it. They aren't paid to engage in philosophical logic.
From both personal experience and anecdotal reports on this Forum, I think you're stuck with SkyChoice awards. I've never seen a report that someone talked DL into reclassifying from SkyChoice to SkySaver.
In fact I've never even seen a report here that someone even asked for a reclassification.
Got to hand it to you for at least trying to push this to the max.
If you're free, I may take you along on my next shopping trip to Mexico to bargain for some gold jewelry.....
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Old Jul 8, 05, 11:26 pm
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Peak period, when many more people than normal want to fly, including not only families traveling but also students coming home from college for Thanksgiving. Many of them are going to be taking the Thanksgiving week off (so, your return trip SEA to Tallahassee is competing with all the other people who want to travel on Delta from SEA to anywhere connecting through ATL or CVG or whichever hub on the Sunday or Monday before Thanksgiving). There must be a zillion people who would like to use regular ole' SkySaver seats over the Thanksgiving period, rather than pay the higher demand-driven fares over that period. If there were any SkySaver seats ever allotted during this peak period, I would suspect they were taken 330 days out.

Good luck with your attempt. But, quite frankly, I would be surprised to hear of any success.

Last edited by Djlawman; Jul 8, 05 at 11:28 pm
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Old Jul 8, 05, 11:37 pm
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Arrow Check partner airlines too!

If you are willing to double-connect and take a red-eye, here is what Delta's partner Northwest has available in terms of award seats:

20NOV
SEA-22:50 DTW-05:56+1day NW208 757
21NOV
DTW-06:40 MEM-07:59 NW289 757
MEM-09:20 TLH-11:52 NW5753 CRJ

All of the above flights should have 2 or more award seats ('W' calss) available.

Hope this helps!
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Old Jul 8, 05, 11:47 pm
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Wanted to add (in case the original poster is unaware) that you can redeem Delta or Northwest miles (can't combine from the 2 programs though) for travel on either one OR a combination of the 2.

This means that you can redeem either WorldPerks or SkyMiles for a domestic award mixing 2 or more partner airlines, for example:
Outbound
DL TLH-ATL-IAH
CO IAH-SEA
Return
NW SEA-DTW
DL DTW-ATL-TLH
All for 25,000 miles in coach... as long as standard award seats are available on all of the flights
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Old Jul 9, 05, 9:55 am
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Originally Posted by BackOfTheBus
Wanted to add (in case the original poster is unaware) that you can redeem Delta or Northwest miles (can't combine from the 2 programs though) for travel on either one OR a combination of the 2.
I was indeed unaware -- thanks! How would I go about redeeming this -- make sure the flights have award seats by attempting one-leg reservations, then call an request the specific flight numbers? Certainly the Delta and NWA online systems did not offer multi-carrier itineraries, nor did the SkyMiles agent I spoke with.

Red-eyes are probably out for us due to health issues. I'll take a 5:30 AM, but 11:30 PM just doesn't work.

I've done this same trip, same weekend, basic awards (not sure when saver/choice came into being), as recently as three years ago, making reservations in July or August. It's been my experience that up through the weekend before Thanksgiving, the travel is slow. At least at FSU students generally can't afford to take the whole week off -- too close to finals. Obviously something has changed in the past three years. Maybe with flights full, the peak period is expanding. Or just that the airlines won't allocate a single award seat as long as they think there's any possibility of selling it. Actually I'm noticing that finding SkySavers even 330 days out going to the west coast is really difficult now. Portland ME next month easy peasy; Portland OR next April tough to get.

As for that shopping trip in Mexico ... ¡hola, amigo! ¡Ole!

Edward
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Old Jul 9, 05, 10:07 am
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In regards to your orignial post, I don't foresee a reclassification happening and I agree that it is likely beyond their control.

However, back in 2000, I was FO and I had my family coming to LAX from the East Coast to visit me. Two of my family members were on paid F tickets ($2000pp back then) and one of them was using an award ticket. The flight from ATL-LAX that 2 of the 3 were on had 0 award availability left, but plenty of F inventory. I called SMS and had a really nice supervisor "somehow" free up one of those F seats so that my grandmother could use it with her award. I have no idea how it happened and if it was because of my Medallion status or just a really nice Supervisor, but she did it for me.
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Old Jul 9, 05, 12:02 pm
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You can check availabity of award seats using www.delta.com, www.nwa.com and www.continental.com .
Just write the flight numbers that show as available for 'standard awards' and then call Delta (or Northwest, if using WorldPerks miles) and tell them you want a mixed award on Delta and Northwest, giving them the specific flight numbers.
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Old Jul 9, 05, 1:10 pm
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If you decide to go the skysaver route, and find something that is acceptable, also go ahead and waitlist yourself on all the desireable flights. Delta charges $50 for each ticket change, but not on waitlist clearing. You can waitlist more direct flights or connections, as long as you get from point A - B.

Also, don't forget that you can use either an open jaw or a stopover. These might move some of your flights to an easier to access availability window.

Billy
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Old Jul 10, 05, 10:18 am
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I presume that you have checked for 1st class Skysaver Awards (45K miles)
vs. Coach Skychoice Awards (50K miles). Not likely to find 1st this time of year though.
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Old Jul 10, 05, 7:06 pm
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From personal experience, revenue management DOES have the ability to open up SkySaver seats if they so choose. I suspect calling it a 'reclassification' makes it more complicated than it really is: what you're after is turning revenue seats into SkySaver seats (SkyChoice, after all, is revenue inventory).

Now, actually getting them to do it is another story entirely. I doubt there's any way you can get them to do this the weekend before Thanksgiving, as that's obviously high time for them. You'll also likely have far better luck with arguments along the line of 'the plane is wide open' rather than 'Yes, I see there's availability on Tuesday, but I need to get there on Wednesday.' FWIW, the two times I've succeeded in getting this done, I was a PM, booking award tickets every other week, and with plenty of prior experience with the route (that they could easily verify through my SkyMiles account) and knew for a fact that loads were never anywhere near full on the flights in question.
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Old Jul 10, 05, 11:46 pm
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sure, they will do this, but they have a priority list they follow.

1st - If you have a discounted coach ticket and prefer a first class seat, just call and have it reclassified to first. Just ask.

2nd Priority - If they only have non-refundable tickets at the price you want to pay, just ask them to reclassify them to refundable in case you want to change your plans. Just ask.

3rd - Flying Intl? If you have some of those super discount coach seats and really do not want to ride in back, just ask them to reclassify them as Biz class. No problem.

Are you kidding?
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Old Jul 11, 05, 12:10 am
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by NoStressHere
sure, they will do this, but they have a priority list they follow.

1st - If you have a discounted coach ticket and prefer a first class seat, just call and have it reclassified to first. Just ask.

2nd Priority - If they only have non-refundable tickets at the price you want to pay, just ask them to reclassify them to refundable in case you want to change your plans. Just ask.

3rd - Flying Intl? If you have some of those super discount coach seats and really do not want to ride in back, just ask them to reclassify them as Biz class. No problem.

Are you kidding?
<yawn>
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Old Jul 12, 05, 8:35 pm
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Sorry to be a bit late getting back here. We had a little breeze over the weekend down here, plus FT didn't tell me I had replies.

I finally bit the bullet and went for SkyChoice. I spent way too much time today looking for flights, but came to the same conclusion that almost nothing is left at SkySaver. Close but no banana -- doesn't help much to be able to get from SEA to MSP and MEM to TLH if I can't get from MSP to MEM ... plus the only SkySaver going out forced us to go a day early. It was only worth about 1.2 cents/mile, but who knows what Delta miles will be worth in a year or two.

I looked at the red-eye that BackOfTheBus found and seriously considered trying to deal with it. In the end it was just too difficult plus might have caused us to miss events on Sunday evening. Plus plus I was able to get an itinerary with a long enough stopover in ATL for my wife to see the sculptures from Zimbabwe -- she's an artist but hasn't had a chance to see this wonderful exhibit.

I was planning to mix airlines; Continental had a more convenient return. Discovered that SkyChoice doesn't work on partner airlines. (And that the CSRs don't use the jargon -- she just called it double miles. ;-) The CSR was not up to date on web capabilities though. When I learned this, I said I'd go back and finish it on the web to avoid the phone fee, since now it was Delta only. She claimed that I would not be able to make reservations for two on the web because I couldn't put in the second passenger's name. Huh? says I, yes she insists. So I had her hold the reservation and went back and did it on the web, no problem. I assume this used to be a problem and her knowledge is out of date.

I did discover that of the three airlines -- Delta, Northwest , and Continental -- that Continental has the most useful web site for investigating SkyTeam possibilities. Delta only shows its own flights. Northwest claims to show partners but I ran into repeated errors, such as showing me an available route from MEM to TLH via IAH but nothing from IAH to TLH the same day. Continental consistently showed me both Continental and Northwest flights, though they don't appear to show Delta flights.

Thanks Delta3MM -- I tried open jaw and stopover. PDX is the only reasonable open jaw and it had nothing. I got a glimmer of a flight from SEA to MSP on Monday pm and them MSP-MEM-ATL the next morning -- but that stops in ATL. Only 250 miles from home but I don't think they allow open jaw on the origination end, and it's a pain anyway.

At least all the miles I have left are FF, not SkyMiles, and so don't expire. Not really a problem, as I don't think there's ever been a three-year period in the past 25 when I didn't fly Delta. HEY! I forgot to ask, how do I keep my Delta miles from expiring? There, now I'm baptized in the FT faith.

So thanks again all.

Edward
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Old Jul 12, 05, 11:53 pm
  #15  
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A lot has changed over the past three years. I remain unconvinced that Delta has unilaterally reduced the number of seats available for SkySaver. One thing is for sure, though, and that is:

1) the competitive environment has gotten even tougher
2) more people are flying (buying tickets to be precise)
3) SkyMiles are being created like mad, especially with the credit cards

The first two have led Delta to add yet another low-end booking class (T). I think U was added more than three years ago but it wasn't that long ago (after the SkyMiles program was created). What this means is that Delta is trying to sell as many seats as they can at whatever fare they can possibly get. This puts a constraint on the number of SkySaver seats that can be claimed by SkyMiles members that are not sold to the public.

Point #3 means there are more miles chasing these seats, and the end result is that it is very difficult to find seats on routes that have any amount of LCC competition (such as SEA), and especially around peak travel times.

While the week of Thanksgiving is more popular than the week before, the week before is still much more popular than your average week.


Personally, I have not traveled to visit family for Thanksgiving since 1995, and I have no plans to ever do so again. Air travel on an average day is a pain enough as it is; why quadruple it just because it's Glutton Day? (that's what my relatives do on Thanksgiving, eating like there's no tomorrow).

During the 1990's, one year I drove 200 miles, which took 6 hours, and another year I took Amtrak the same 200 miles, and that also took 6 hours. I said, "screw this" and haven't looked back.

Last edited by JS; Jul 12, 05 at 11:56 pm
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