Friday, March 9, 2007

A Tale of Two Airlines

I am a fan of Loyalty Clubs - I am organized enough to keep track of the records and like being rewarded for my patronage. It simplifies planning - I know which hotel or airline is my first choice so I don't have to sift through dozens of options: an anti-Schwartzing benefit. I also like deals, and you sometimes get good ones through frequent flyer or buyer programs. I am hostile to USAirways Dividend Miles, though. They have rewarded my loyalty by tightening the offerings to the point that it is nearly impossible to book free flights even when I qualify. But if I put in double miles, voila! Magically the seats open. Essentially they have devalued my accumulated miles by half.
Last summer we booked USAir tickets to visit my ailing father. Sadly, two days before our trip he passed away. Remember bereavement fares? Remember carbon copies? They're both now in The Nostalgia Encyclopedia, up there with this picture of glamorous airline service. Instead of rebooking me a day earlier, they cancelled out what I'd paid and credited me with $100 towards a full-fare last minute ticket ($200 down the drain, + a more expensive ticket). Thanks, US Air.
Our return flight was on Southwest, however. They DON'T cancel your ticket; they give you Southwest credit good for a year [from when you booked the ticket, not when you would have flown. This is a detail which is important to know.] A few weeks ago I realized I hadn't used the credit and time was running out. After looking at where they fly and my calendar, I concluded it didn't make sense to take a trip just to use my $200 credit, so I shook hands with forfeiting it. I told my friend N about this (she is the source of any number of PSAWSWALD tips like the Amazon Prime and the NYTimes discount), and she reported anyone could use my Southwest credit - all they would need is the code letters. It never had occurred to me it could be transferable. Transfer the credit we did, since she happened to be booking Southwest flights. It worked perfectly.
So, which airline would you rather patronize?

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