Experience redeeming VX miles on International Partners

Old Mar 30, 13, 1:57 pm
  #1  
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Experience redeeming VX miles on International Partners

This post is my personal experience, observation attempting to redeem VX points with Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines. These attempts were made (hats off) to Lucky who initially posted the, at least in theory, great value of VX points for flying around the globe.

http://boardingarea.com/blogs/onemil...ity-is-loaded/

Ring the alarm
"We're still trying to get to know Singapore Airlines"
"I don't have any seats on Air Singapore"
"105,000 points from London to San Francisco"
"There are only three of us who do these types of tickets"
"The person who knows about the points required is not in on Saturdays or Sundays"
Award charts showing incorrectly first and business class seats redemption options to Singapore/Hong Kong and Seoul (Not permitted on 77W, 380).
VX website doesn't show SQ as a partner (only VA, HA, Virgin Australia)

Positive moments
-Agents proactively tried alternate airports (ie: SFO:LAX; LHR:LGW)
-Friendly, upbeat, effort made to make flights work using alternate days/times combo of airlines
-Offered to put me on hold or callback (they did the latter AND called back within 30 minutes)
-Willingness to check every week for me to see if specific dates opened up ("I will call if something becomes available and ask you before ticketing it.")
-AMEX MR points easily transfer to VX in case you are short for redemption
-Award redemption levels are very lucrative in some markets as Lucky points to.

Some issues I had:
1) LHR-SFO - no nonstop space in any class on the days I selected (they offered alternates). But DID find LHR-IAD-SFO in upper class. The pricing on it came to 105,000 points ONE WAY however. The rep claimed it is two award tickets; LHR-IAD and IAD-SFO (VX). Beside the point they are treating this as two tickets (very strange...), how do they price it at 105k when LHR-IAD is 25,000; A VX award ticket is based on market price of the ticket, not a fixed amount like their international partners. Meanwhile, if available, the LHR-SFO is 30,000. 105,000?** Even the agent didn't know how to explain it.

2) Overall impression based on my conversations is reps operate on a cliff notes version of the process and asking questions usually leads to several awkward moments of silence and/or asking a supervisor for help.

3) This process is not sustainable. Man, I love me my VX, but the manual process of this ("let me look these up and call you back...," "I can try looking each week for you...") just won't work long-term if their business model is to...grow. These partnerships with international carriers is great, but only if they can pull it off. Let us not forget the IT mess in the early days of VX and the headaches that was for weeks/months.

** Possible pricing they are use:
LHR-IAD 25,000 fixed price
IAD-SFO 75,163 refundable one-way ticket
IS approximately 105,000

Overall, I was not able to book today. On one hand, there are some really good opportunities here. The speculation of VX existence beyond 2013 are certainly of some concern which is pushing me to redeem sooner than later. Unfortunately, navigating through the redemption process does take some patience.

Last edited by DBCme; Mar 30, 13 at 2:12 pm
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Old Mar 30, 13, 8:26 pm
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great recap DBCme - thanks!
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Old Mar 31, 13, 8:16 am
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The website clearly shows Singapore as a partner - http://www.virginamerica.com/frequen...levate_airline
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Old Mar 31, 13, 4:41 pm
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Hawaiian Airlines

I would love to hear someone's experience with Hawaiian airlines redemption. If I book it 330 days in advance, I should get a seat right?
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Old Mar 31, 13, 10:15 pm
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In all fairness, there really isn't much that VX can do when SQ is extremely stingy with F and J awards to its partners,though for Y they do release quite a bit.
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Old Apr 1, 13, 7:33 pm
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In June, I redeemed VX points for VS Upper Class SFO-LHR. It was totally frustrating. It took about three weeks (It appears they had to redo things [our ticket numbers and VS booking codes were changed] - but because of the lack of visibility, I couldn't tell for sure) In any event, it took a lot of bird-dogging to get it done. I agree that the process is not scalable or even acceptable. I assume that the first person screwed things up - but even had things gone correctly, the process still is a back box which takes up to a week.

The worst part of it all was that there was no way to tell what was going on - there was no visibility as to where the process was at any time. (Money for taxes etc was charged at one point, and ultimately [much later] my VX points were deducted, but monitoring them was the only online evidence that things were happening.) Ultimately, I was able to get my VS booking reference - and I can now see and manage the booking on the VS site.

I'm looking forward to my flight next week, but I really can't say anything positive about the redemption and booking process.

Last edited by MarkBearSF; Apr 1, 13 at 7:46 pm
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Old Oct 13, 13, 9:52 pm
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Here's my experience booking a redemption through Elevate on VA:
15 minutes call to get a booking confirmation, and availability matches that of VA's, so that's a relief.

BUT, it will take 24 hours to get a confirmation from VA before VX can send the booking to ticketing. Until then, if availability changes then my reservation isn't 'protected'!
Also, ticketing might take up to 3 days since they have to do it manually. The agent said it's usually done within 3-4 hours of receiving confirmation from the other airline.

Another note: changes/cancellations and refunds within 24 hours of ticketing are free of charge. After that, up to 24 hours prior to departure, it's a $100 penalty. Within 24 hours of travel, all is forfeited (did not ask about taxes though).

Will update this as I hear back from VX. All up, it wasn't as bad as I expected, certainly much better than the OP's experience.
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Old Oct 13, 13, 9:57 pm
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Something I forgot to mention. Taxes came in exactly those displayed in the paid fare on VA's website in USD, excluding the Australian GST component naturally.

Last edited by edy4eva; Oct 13, 13 at 10:06 pm
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Old Oct 14, 13, 12:10 pm
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I've had SQ economy class booked with no problems and I was pretty happy with the experience. The flight I wanted wasn't available when I first inquired, but the CSR called me a few days later letting me know she was able to book it.
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Old Oct 14, 13, 3:32 pm
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Originally Posted by BayAreaGuy View Post
but the CSR called me a few days later letting me know she was able to book it.
That's very lax to say the least. How long did it take to get the tickets issued from the moment you provided your CC details?
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Old Oct 15, 13, 2:47 pm
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Final update: 40 hours from having called to book, VX sent me a confirmation email with VA booking reference and the charges applied to my Elevate account and credit card.

What's interesting in the email is the following:
As a reminder, if you need to cancel it must be done 2 hours prior to departure and there will be a $100 per person redeposit fee.
The agent mentioned 24 hours not 2 hours, could he have been mistaken? or could the text be inaccurate?
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Old Oct 16, 13, 3:07 pm
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Originally Posted by edy4eva View Post
That's very lax to say the least. How long did it take to get the tickets issued from the moment you provided your CC details?
No, the flight wasn't even available at the time so the CSR kept checking for me. Once it was available, she called to confirm and I provided CC information. I received a VX confirmation within hours and a SQ confirmation within a day or two.
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Old Oct 16, 13, 9:08 pm
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VX decided overnight to increase the one-way redemption levels on domestic VA by 15-25%. So instead of 3k/5k for MEL-SYD in Y/J, it became 3.5k/6k. Longer sectors went from 8.5k to 10k.

Return itineraries are not affected. No announcements or notifications made.

What's funny is that for redeeming on VS LHR-EDI it costs 2500 Elevate points return in economy, a trip of a similar distance on VA is 6000 Elevate points!
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Old Jan 7, 14, 6:56 pm
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Good Experience Redeeming with HA

I'd just like to share my good experience redeeming with Hawaiian Airlines. I am doing a cruise over Thanksgiving week (high season). Although flights on Saturdays and Sundays were not available, I was able to secure flights on the Friday before Thanksgiving and the Monday after Thanksgiving (4 tickets). I was able to get my first choice flights, the non-stops between Oakland and Honolulu. I was very pleased to get these flights, as they are fairly expensive ($700 roundtrip). I got them for only 20,000 Elevate points each, which is a great conversion rate. Calling the Partner Redemption desk was fairly painless. After about a 10 minute hold time, the customer rep was easy to work with and was able to explain to me what was and was not available for various travel dates and itineraries (connecting flights through Maui, etc.). I did have to call Hawaiian airlines to get seat assignments (VX couldn't do this and I can't do it online). I am a very satisfied customer!
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Old Jan 10, 14, 7:42 pm
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Why does the page for redeeming on Singapore Airlines shows this ?

..How to redeem Elevate points:
Your Elevate account can take you farther than ever. Use your points toward reward flights on Hawaiian Airlines by following these steps:
Hmm. I'm going to attempt to redeem a oneway ticket from Europe to SIN for next week. So the consensus is that no 77W, A380 J/F seats are available?
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