My (Mis)Adventure With A China Eastern Award: A Cautionary Tale

Filed Under: Awards, Delta

As I mentioned previously, over the coming days and weeks you’ll see the occasional post from a fellow reader who has applied to write for OMAAT on an ongoing basis. It’s possible that posts will still be in the publication queue after we’ve announced our decision, so we’ll be publishing these anonymously. We hope you enjoy the different perspectives!

As a frequent business traveler who is a glutton for punishment values domestic experience and on-time performance over award redemptions, I have a pretty significant cache of miles with Delta.

So, when the topic of our annual December vacation came up and we decided on Malaysian Borneo, I did what your average Delta loyalist would do: I logged into my account and searched for the finest mainland Chinese carrier availability that SkyMiles can buy.

The booking process

The outbound flight was fairly straightforward: I was able to snag two one-way business class tickets for 80,000 SkyMiles (now 95,000) from New York JFK to Kota Kinabalu (BKI) on China Eastern. It’s no Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines but I’m a sucker for reverse herringbone seats, and I’m not typically bothered by cigarette smoke 😉

The itinerary involved a single connection to our fairly obscure destination (yay!), a 12-hour layover in Shanghai (yay?), and cough $295 per person cough in taxes and fees (or an opportunity to earn bonus MQMs and chip away at my MQD waiver so…yay?). The ticket was easily booked online, and I received a ticket number right away.

The return flight proved to be a bit more hairy, with loads of phantom availability showing up for both China Southern and China Eastern. A quick call with Delta confirmed my suspicions, so I gave up, booked my return ticket via other means, and promptly stopped thinking about it for the next eight months.

As it turns out, this mass amount of phantom award availability should have been red flag #1.

The check-in experience attempt

We waltzed up to the China Eastern counter on the night of December 25th feeling pretty good about our redemption and ready to crash for the next twelve hours. Anticipation quickly turned to angst, however, when the ticketing agent struggled to find our reservation. She quickly grabbed her manager while my husband shot me his best “don’t worry, computer glitches happen all the time look” to try and calm my nerves.

Tony, the China Eastern manager, walked us to anther counter, inputted our passport numbers, and after what felt like a year (but was probably about 90 seconds) said the five words that would turn our next 48 hours of travel upside-down:

“Your tickets were never issued.”


After breaking a new land speed record to locate Delta’s auxiliary T4 desk, I was met with a thoroughly confused Delta agent who had no problem pulling up our reservation and seat assignments on her end. She kindly agreed to walk back to the ticketing desk and duke it out with Tony and the China Eastern system.

At 11PM (the end of her shift), she flashed us a thumbs up on her way out the door, and we breathed a huge sigh of relief. Temporarily.

Rock bottom

20 minutes later, we still hadn’t been cleared and we were close to check-in closing, so I decided to check in again for the latest.

“This happens all the time,” Tony bemoaned apologetically as he typed away. “Do you have Chinese visas?”


“I can get you on the flight to Shanghai, but the flight to Borneo is oversold in both business and economy. So without Chinese visas, I can’t send you to Shanghai unless you have a ticket onward.”

And then came the moment when I knew we were out of luck:

“Are you committed to traveling to this destination, or could you go somewhere else?”


With views like these at stake, I wasn’t about to give up on our destination that easily!

Damage control

At this point there was little to be done on China Eastern’s end, so I shifted my attention back to Delta’s call center. Lisa was kind and met me with a mix of disbelief and empathy, but her search availability was limited to other Delta award inventory, and nothing seemed to be showing up for the next three days.

Suffice to say, I don’t think Delta’s VPs of Anything are spending their Christmases at the call center.

A rare sight – an empty JFK T4 at 1AM. I hope no one else has to experience this.

With our hands seemingly tied, I started to get creative. This may come as a shock, but Kota Kinabalu isn’t exactly a happening hub airport, so I suggested that we look at flying into Kuala Lumpur instead.

And just like that, we were back in business.

We settled on the following itinerary:

JFK – LAX on Delta, leaving at 7 AM (business class)

LAX – Shanghai on Delta, leaving at 12:05 PM (business class, cigarette smoke not included)

Shanghai – Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia, leaving at 2:15 AM (economy class but at least we were getting to the right country)

Kuala Lumpur – Borneo on Malaysia, paid in cash, to be reimbursed separately

And off we went to get two hours of sleep before the long journey ahead.

The Silver (Laurel?) Lining

Our saga had only begun when we boarded the plane from Los Angeles to Shanghai, as the auxiliary power unit blew up during the boarding process, causing the power on the aircraft to completely shut off. This isn’t usually a cause for celebration, but I knew that a mechanical would open up a ton of inventory that previously hadn’t been available.

My fingers were hitting “send” before the pilot could finish saying the words “we apologize,” and three phone calls to three different agents later, we were ticketed on the following (unbelievable) itinerary (and yes, all in business class):

LAX – Taipei on EVA Air

Taipei – Borneo on Malaysia

Side note: I was pretty psyched to not only “redeem” SkyMiles for EVA Air business class, but to “build” an award ticket that spanned all three airline alliances.

Enjoying a much-needed pre-flight beverage before (finally!) boarding our flight to TPE.

To Delta’s credit, they proactively offered my husband and I (each) a $200 credit after the initial ticketing blunder, 15,000 bonus SkyMiles after the mechanical at LAX, and a $100 check later on that evening.

Bottom line

To this day, I’m still not clear on what went wrong on the technical end, and I’ll be darned if I can find anyone else who’s had this same issue.

My suspicion is that the issue originated with China Eastern’s system and the ticket should never have been issued in the first place. Here’s what I learned, so that you hopefully avoid the same mistakes I made:

Always double-check with the operating airline when booking with a third party.

Historically, my award bookings with Delta on partner airlines had always been seamless, and I trusted the process implicitly. I had a ticket number!

The ability to book seats on the Delta app further lulled me into a state of complacency, leaving me in damage control mode at the airport, with a ticking clock and limited options. I should have checked my seats and reservation with China Eastern directly.

A five-minute (heck, even a one-hour) phone call would have saved hours of headache down the road. And if you’re reading this and having an “oh crap” moment right now, their North America Central Reservations number is 1-855-589-5530.

Be flexible with your point of arrival.

It was clear that alternative options were limited, and if I hadn’t offered to fly into Kuala Lumpur when I was talking with Lisa on that fateful night, I might still be sitting on the floor at JFK, hoping that a flight to Borneo eventually opens up.

This happens all the time domestically as well – phone agents may look at availability into Hartford without ever checking Boston or Providence, for example.

If at first you don’t succeed, call, call again.

I can’t emphasize enough how worthwhile it was to keep plugging away. It took four phone calls, and the mechanical most certainly helped, but finding an empowered agent who understood the situation and was able to route me to the right place was worth its weight in gold.

And the Veuve Clicquot and pajamas in EVA’s business class didn’t hurt, either 😉

Has anyone else had a similar experience with SkyMiles, China Eastern, or any award ticket not processing? If so, what did you do to fix the situation?

As a reminder, this post was guest-written by a fellow reader. Feedback is appreciated, but please keep the comments kind and constructive.

  1. Thumbs up… most useful article for long time, even counting the regular posts. Although, I’m slightly unclear how the last option materialized after mechanical issue, and will that option be available to average Joe without Delta status?

  2. My favorite of the guest articles so far. Amazing work and a great storyteller. Hope she comes onboard!

  3. Thank you for the advice. Though I cant help to Think that you are a little bit careless to not double check your reservation. Good post though I Will prefer if you dont use too much yay.

  4. Comparatively good article for the guest writer, relative to some of the others so far. Only suggestion would be that some of the transitions between the intro sections seem a little abrupt — there’s a dramatic shift in either topic or time that could use a little bit of easing with phrases that guide the reader what you’re about to discuss next. Or provide some phrases that set the tone for the story to come and why you’re giving some of the intro information.

  5. Also, just to add, it would be good for the writer to add some followup research done with the airline or polling (as Lucky sometimes does) asking about the frequency and reason for ticketing mishaps like this. One of the benefits of this platform is that you have access and attention to authorities who will respond to you more than just a random person, so if you have that chance to get information valuable to others, tell us about it.

  6. Nicely done.

    One question, sorry for my ignorance, you mentioned MQMs for the flight. Does using points get you MQMs? I thought pay with points does, but award space, paid by points does not.

    Overall, great post!

  7. This is a terrific post, the best of the guest ones so far. Other than the very first, it’s the only one with any personality, and the level of polish here – and gentle humour – is notable.

    I seriously hope this is the one you hire.

  8. Amazing post! For a brief moment I thought that this post has been written by Tiffany!
    keep up with this “guest” section.

  9. I just had similar issue with United and Air China. We booked business class award flight from ORD via EVA to TPE then Air China to PVG and to our destination of SYD. We received a record locator and confirmation in each case. I was even able to select seats for each leg. After asking Air China for some details regarding our connection in PVG. They said there was a problem with our schedule and we needed to check with United. After several calls United determined that Air China had never issued the ticket and it didn’t seem like the system would. Apparently this happens a reasonable amount of time. It actually happened to my parents as well, but they were at the airport and had to pay out of pocket for tickets.

    But our story had a happy ending as United was willing to work with us. We ended up getting a flight ORD to SFO to SYD. Even though it is all on United (I was looking forward to EVA business class), our travel time was dramatically reduced from almost 40 hours to just 20 hours. The itinerary we got is normally 200K, but we were able to get it at the 90K saver level due to the ticketing issue.

  10. I echo the above—liked this guest author the most so far. Personality and humor that comes off the page. Definitely saw some similarities with the totally terrific Tiffany! See what I did there with the alliteration? Anyway, happy Friday to all.

  11. Great post! Just a quick question: How were you able to be booked onto EVA given that it’s in Star Alliance? Was Delta just doing a major mea culpa on their part, and were willing to book you on any airline?

    Also I’m curious why a mechanical error opens up availability.


  12. This happened to me, too, but on the return trip, and using Shanghai Airlines on a Delta ticket. It led to me being stranded in Bangkok and Delta having to continually escalate my call until a senior enough VP could explain what was happening–it sounds like this is a regular risk with any ticket issued by Delta but through China. Ended up in Korean economy all the way home, which was frustrating, but Delta compensated me nicely afterward.

  13. @Jon P When they couldnt get on the original China Eastern flights, Delta basically had the responsibility to get them to their destination, regardless of award space and the airline alliance. Delta’s interline agreements came into play here, which is why they were able to be ticketed on Malaysian and then EVA, once the LAX-PVG flight went mechanical. \

    I think airlines like to keep passengers on their own metal first, then within the airline alliance, before reaching out to airlines that have interline agreements.

    Fantastic post!! SkyMiles for EVA, who knew?!

  14. > but how did you redeem sky miles for a *A award ticket??

    I assume what the author meant by “mechanical would open up a ton of inventory that previously hadn’t been available” was that once the booked flight went mech, the award inventory limits and rules go out the window and the operating carrier would reroute them on to any bookable space on any carrier. And I’m sure that they graciously offered to go to an alternate airport vs their booked itinerary to KUL. 😉

  15. I’m no smoker, but while the first smoking reference was funny and snarky, the second was neither. Outside of that, a superb post. Far and away the best so far among the guest posts.

  16. Probably the best guest article so far. I agree with other though, an explanation for how a mechanical opens op more inventory would be nice for those of us that are not experts, and/or does not fly as much as the writer obviously do.

  17. Best of the guest posts so far. Easy to read (good “voice”), not too long, shares tips, and teaches something. The witty personality could go over the top, but doesn’t.

  18. I’m sure everyone has stories like this, but as examples of the power agents have in irregular operations: several years ago I was reluctantly flying CO vs earning AS miles on DL one Christmas time, because of a much lower fare; and then, on arrival at SEA, because I was going to misconnect at IAH, was “ruled” by CO over to DL, cross-alliances – and then upgraded by DL based on my AS status. Earned AS miles on a CO ticket based on the DL metal.

    Similarly, during a strike in 1998, I was transferred from AC LHR-YVR-SEA, on to AA LGW-DFW-SEA, and then when there was an issue with that flight, to a combination of AA and UA flights, LGW-BOS-DEN-SEA.

  19. Best strategy when a flight goes mech or there is weather or a strike, is to get in the line at the airport, then call the airline (elite line if you can), and while you’re on hold, put it on speaker and search for any flights that get you where you want, and when you either reach the front of the line or get the phone agent on, ask for the routing you found.

    In my 1998 experience, I called to Seattle, and my travel agent (it was a long time ago) reserved me a seat on AA. When I got back to LHR the next morning, the AC agent was so happy that I was squared away vs every one else they were searching on behalf of that they pulled me out of the long line, swiftly endorsed my paper ticket to AA, and put me in a cab to LGW.

  20. Another +1 for this writer – the article was interesting, funny, and informative. The right combo!

  21. Good post, but I think it was mostly the story. If it were an option, Lucky should definitely hire a writer who can frequently have award booking snafus. Unfortunately that is hard to plan in advance 😉 Maybe the person hired could try to track down stories that other people experience (like a mileage redemption reporter) and then write them up as blog posts. These snafus are my favorite stories on this blog whether they come from Lucky, Tiffany or someone else. This writer is good too. Provides all the relevant information while not getting too long.

  22. Wouldn’t it be funny if Lucky secretly published some articles as our ‘guest’ writer. The comment section critique of our ‘guest’ seems to continually be from some serious writing experts. Take it easy people.

    Joking aside, great article. Massive improvement being interlined onto BR J.

  23. Agreed, great topic, nicely written.

    Made me think, author’s takeaway is “Always double-check with the operating airline when booking with a third party.”
    Let’s say she would have done it and found out there’s no ticket couple months in advance. I am pretty sure DL’s response would have been something along the lines of “oh, your trip has been booked in error, there’s no real availability, we are canceling your res and refunding your miles +giving you 5000 for inconvenience”. And she’s back to square one.
    Now, in most cases, getting to the right place (right city, not just the right country 🙂 in time is the top priority – and then the advice is 100% solid.
    But for adventurous points collectors going on vacation with flexible plans, maybe it should be “If you scored a weird redemption, hold on to it and do not ask questions – you may end up in smoke-free J drinking good champagne.”

    Also curious, what class did Eva booked into? Any chance DL booked revenue ticket which would earn Star miles?

  24. Nice article. I like the style and humor. Good points. Great that you still ended up at the destination.

    However, there is a very important point missing. It is not your fault, but China Eastern’s fault; MU should have known this already. In the end you got to Borneo but, you could, in theory, stay in Shanghai for a day or two and depart to BKI later.

    The reason is simple; as you were transiting in PVG to go to the third country (USA-China-Malaysia), you ARE eligible for the 144-hour visa-free transit. All you need was your passport and the onward itinerary to another country, for example, PVG-BKI within the next 144 hours.

    Again, not your fault, but of the incompetent MU agent.

  25. @ITST
    144-hour rule is when you have CONFIRMED onward travel, and article is specific stating that was not the case. One can’t fly into China on 4-days visa free program an then hope to get onward travel settled after.

  26. Thanks the feedback all! Just wanted to address a couple of questions:

    1. MQDs – Correct that those don’t come from award redemptions, but the Delta AMEX that paid for the ~295 pp in taxes and fees helped get me closer to the waiver (at least that’s how I made myself feel better about it at the time). Sorry for the confusion.
    2. The mechanical issue fell squarely under Delta’s responsibility, making it far easier for your average customer service rep to understand and work through (no one on Delta’s end had even heard of my original ticketing issue ever occurring). While I couldn’t see the inventory on the back end, it was pretty clear that they were suddenly presenting options from general inventory, rather than award inventory only.
    3. I do think I struck gold with that last phone rep and that they were indeed doing a major “mea culpa” as one commenter put it, so I wouldn’t count on that ever happening again. Unfortunately, I can’t speak to how your average joe would fare (nor would I want to replicate the experience!) but I can say that I’ve been through three different levels of Delta status over the past year alone, and phone reps have always ranged from good to knock-your-socks off, regardless of status.

  27. Fantastic guest post.

    Interline and mechanical issue – like what other have posted – will open up possibilities beyond the original airline and its alliance. Happened to us – flying on revenue ticket on AA, but got cancelled due to AA issue. AA rebooked us on Delta, and put us on domestic first, no questions asked.

    My flight – SIN to BKK on TG – as part of Asia to NA via Europe was cancelled, I got re-routed on ANA, but other people on my flight got re-routed on Emirates and other non-alliance airlines.

  28. Writing: 8.5/10.
    Content: 8.5/10.

    This is the highest scoring article till date. I almost thought it was written by Tiffany. Excellent piece.

    Just a question, did you piece the BR-MH itinerary yourself? I would assume this would be a full revenue space than just award space, but is it hard to get the point across to DL agents? (Probably that is why it took 3 agents? Many would not want to look into revenue space, much less other alliance tickets. )
    How did you bank your miles of BR and MH, since they shld be revenue tickets? did you get your miles for the DL leg too, since that is probably full revenue as well?
    (If all these are covered, its 10/10 for content)

  29. Great article! Really enjoyed reading it!

    There are snafus that despite our best diligence are beyond our control. Last December we (family of 3 – wife + son) went to Maldives via Abu Dhabi on Etihad. We arrived in Abu Dhabi on a separate ticket and after few days of stopover in Abu Dhabi we continued our journey to Maldives. When we arrived at Abu Dhabi airport, the Etihad agent looked at our passport and after punching his keyboard several times informed as that the other two tickets also have my name on them instead of my wife and my son’s name. He did his best to fix the problem but since it was issued by American he couldn’t do much. At this point we had less than an hour left to board the flight so I quickly dialed the American Airlines reservation center in Australia as I expected a long hold time in USA (it was Christmas Eve in USA at that time). By the way, I don’t have any status with AA. My call was answered quickly (it went to the Caribbean call center) and after I explained my problem the agent took a look at the tickets and literally gasped. She was very helpful but it took her almost 30 minutes to resolve the problem and issue a new ticket. Long story short, we made to the gate just in time.

    I went to Etihad’s website several times to manage the booking – pick our seats and request meal for my child but nothing was flagged. Etihad’s website showed each passenger’s name correctly every time. What could I have done in advance to avoid this? Not sure. At the end, I strongly believe that having the presence of mind to call Australia call center (Thank you OMAAT) saved our vacation.

  30. “It was clear that alternative options were limited, and if I hadn’t offered to fly into Kuala Lumpur when I was talking with Lisa on that fateful night, I might still be sitting on the floor at JFK, hoping that a flight to Borneo eventually opens up.”

    Absolutely, pull up Google maps and find other airports.

    I had a similar issue near Christmas a few years back. Ending up getting booked to Visalia, an airport nobody I spoke to had ever heard of, on an airline the agents also had never heard of. It was a 9-seat plane.

    (That airline no longer has any commercial service, it was a single subsidized flight)

  31. Very Tiffany-esque! And where would we be without our Tiffany?!! We could always use another one!

    The scary part – I’ve been on one of these adventures as I’m sure many of us here have. Even with checking and rechecking arrangements in advance, sh*t happens. A good lesson in resourcefulness and patience.

    Enjoyable read! Good job.

  32. Very enjoyable post. To echo others, this has been the best of the guest postings.

    A question:

    “…but I knew that a mechanical would open up a ton of inventory that previously hadn’t been available”

    Why is thus the case?

  33. An informative and entertaining article but unless the writer is a perpetual candidate for “reader mistake story”, the subject of a guest post shouldn’t be anything close to the deciding factor.

  34. Excellent read! My only suggestions are to eliminate unnecessary words like cough and comments about the smoke and the crosses through words and to include more transitions within the article. I get what your going for but it’s a bit distracting. I think you covered an incredible amount of information here!! Looking forward to more from you!

  35. Calling the airline and confirming doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is set. I had called Turkish to confirm a ticket using UA miles, and got a Turkish PNR record locator as well as the ticket number. I hadn’t called back for 3 weeks (called back intending to change my seat), but when I did, I found that it was cancelled because UA supposedly had missed a step somewhere. Following up with UA, they falsely claimed that it was due to TK no longer operating the flight (IST-ORD). I was never able to get the TK space back and had to slum it out on UA. Bottom line is, yes call the operating carrier to ensure that tickets are issued, but you may have to call every few days or so to ensure that nothing happens to the ticket. Just calling once to confirm, getting the ticket number and PNRs is not enough.

  36. Great article! Witty, interesting and useful tips. Well done!

    I agree with virtually all the other commenters on here. Bravo.

  37. @ Mike – Your comments are spot on. So far, it seems like humor is the weakest point of the guest posts. I get that the candidates are trying to introduce themselves in a few quick sentences at the start of each article, but their use of humor feels like an awkward crutch or, at worst, an obvious attempt to mimic the style of OMAAT regulars. It isn’t necessary to announce anything up front. A good writer reveals his or her voice throughout the writing.

  38. Nice post; generally I like the cheeky style but it can go too far.

    Lesson learned absolutely…..same kind of thing happened to me during the LH strike. Sometimes the systems just won’t talk to each other!

    But 1 question – “I knew that a mechanical would open up a ton of inventory that previously hadn’t been available”. How did know inventory would open? Not quite sure I get that.

  39. This! More of this! We love to learn how other deal with bad situations.

    P.s. hope your spell checker work the next time. :).

  40. Fun article. However, I have to ask: when did EVA downgrade its champagne? When I flew last May, they were still serving Krug in business class.

  41. Best guest post so far. Simple message, good narrative and nice ending with some learnings. Well done.

  42. Really enjoyed this one! The tone of voice in the writing comes through perfectly. I hope to read more from this guest writer.

  43. Excellent post, great writing and great tone. Definitely in the top tier of the posts so far.

  44. Great article! Best of the guest articles so far.

    Would love more explanation on why inventory opened up because of a mechanical though!

  45. I love the personality on this article! Excellent!
    But I do agree with @chancer, I would like to see the author write something about tips on points redemption, mileage earnings, etc. next time to see how well-verse (s)he on this topic.

  46. I just wish the writer would have went into more detail about how Delta booked him on another airline outside of Sky Team. I think this is what everyone wants to know. Yes, some people in the comments talked about interline agreements but I shouldn’t have to read the comments. It would make a nice follow-up post.

  47. So Americans are too stupid to travel. No surprise. Stay behind the wall.
    Get a more open, seasobed traveller to contribute.

  48. @Marija

    MU could book the guest poster into an onward flight to BKI a day or two later in the same itinerary (hence PVG stopover.) That was all needed and of course possible.

  49. Overall a well written article. My only issue is the frequent flier didn’t bother to login to China Eastern to confirm booking, get seat assignments, etc. If she had the problem would have been caught 8 months before her trip…

  50. I’d be interested in knowing whether the writer suggested the alternative routings on other airlines or whether Delta automatically did it. Either way, as someone else said, write a follow-up.

  51. A great deal in this post I didn’t understand:

    or an opportunity to earn bonus MQMs and chip away at my MQD waiver so…yay?

    Do taxes and surcharges count towards MQD? I didn’t think so.

    As it turns out, this mass amount of phantom award availability should have been red flag #1.

    This should have been a red flag about the outbound flight? But that flight ticketed correctly, while these failed on-line. That seems more like an indication the reservation was good, not bad.

    but the flight to Borneo is oversold in both business and economy.

    They couldn’t get you a seat to Borneo any time in the next seven days? Even by connecting inside China? It did they offer that and you didn’t want to layover in Shanghai for more than a day?

    Kuala Lumpur – Borneo on Malaysia, paid in cash, to be reimbursed separately

    Doors this mean that Delta agreed in advance that they would reimburse you, in cash, for whatever ticket you night for this segment? Who has the authority to do this? What form does this guarantee take?

    but I knew that a mechanical would open up a ton of inventory that previously hadn’t been available.

    Why would the absence of a flight open up more award space. It should only subtract space on that particular flight that wasn’t used (and cause space on replacement flights to get booked quickly).

    In any event, it doesn’t sound like inventory opened up, it sounds more like they simply bought you fights on other airlines. Is that what happened or, in fact, was the Delta agent somehow able to actually access award inventory on other alliances?

    On any event, it’s not clear to me why Delta would necessarily do either of these things (purchase seats or access otherwise unbookable inventory) in the event of a mechanical when, presumably, they would be obligated to do it for tens or hundreds of people in the flight and not do it when your original award was screwed up and they only had to make it right for two people.

  52. Great post. Very informative and well written.
    Most of all, it does not get carried away on irrelevant CC junk, and is relevant to any traveller, not only locals.

  53. Sounds like a horrid adventure. Am infinitely happy that something worked out for you — and that it lead to a great article.

    But no different than Air China flights booked with UA awards. Infamous for going dark at the last minute. Just read FT, in the UA forum …. it is a travesty that they still are allowed in the *A network, or that UA still offers award travel on Air China.

  54. Me too, am interested to know are the BR and MA tickets being revenue tickets? In irrop booking that got sent to other airlines, they usually ended up booked as revenue tickets. I think a lot of readers would like to know.

    Reading the comment section, the mishap on award tickets are scary, especially the one AA issued 3 tickets in one single name yet, there is no way the poster would have known as everything online shown NORMAL, including on Etihad site when he could select seats and ordered meals for his wife and son whose tickets were all issued in his own name according to the check in agent at Abu Dhabi. This is the scariest one.

    We once had DL issued tickets traveling on AZ that AZ system stubbornly showed us being double-booked, online and by their phone agents. DL insisted nothing was like that. At the airport the check in agent was super puzzled and called her supervisor. Took them huddling for 15 min but eventually the supervisor smiled and told us, everything was alright now. Whew.
    On another occasion AA issued ticket travel on QR and IB. IB kept “losing” us when tried to pull up ressie on their site but their phone agents in MIA insisted everything was alright. Nothing we could do as the IB legs were on the inbound. Luckily at checked in IST-MAD there was no issue.

    Right now we are holding 2 AS issued itineraries – outbound is on CX JFK-HKG//HKG-MEL. All look normal on CX site as numerous trips on CX in the past. inbound is on QF SYD-MEL-LAX//LAX-FLL. AS system assigned the name of the trip as from Melbourne, even the phone agent called it MEL to LAX, but the trip starts from SYD, QF site shows the correct itinerary. I think I need to call QF to make sure this is the case… Sigh.

  55. @LarryInNYC

    “They couldn’t get you a seat to Borneo any time in the next seven days? Even by connecting inside China? It did they offer that and you didn’t want to layover in Shanghai for more than a day?”

    The author does not have a Chinese visa so domestic China connection does not work. Otherwise I have a same concern.

  56. fwiw, I haven’t weighed in on any of the guest postings yet, but I think this one is definitely the best one I’ve read so far.

  57. I also thought I was reading a “Tiffany” article at first! Enjoyed the humor, well written indeed! She has my vote?
    Nate, there is no guarantee with spell check! It obviously didn’t work for you!

  58. How do you coax Delta to book a seat on a Star Alliance carrier? Did they have to have award availability, or was the fare code a revenue fare code?

  59. Interesting article but *cough* too (many) *cough* (yay!) (yay?) immature and awkward ungrammatical devices made me skim most of it.

  60. Not targeted at the guest writer

    For once, I would like to read a story where things just really go off, resulting in time wasted, monetary losses, etc, instead of everything turning out even better in the end. Please get real!

  61. I don’t know if this is fiction or non fiction . But using delta miles to redeem on Eva Air which is a star alliance member . Maybe if the writer flew China Airlines it made sense. And on Malaysia Airlines which is also not a Skyteam member but a One World member. So please explain how the writer is flying on non Skyteam members ?

  62. @Mike & @Mike G, 100% agreed. Would have been more professional and still entertaining without fluff like that (and the strike-throughs, of course).

  63. Really not sure what everyone sees in this post. Seemed like a long venting session with a therapist for the writer.

  64. Great post! Good insight and some lessons learned for the future (the most important one being to stay patient and try different call center agents).

  65. While this was certainly fun and quite well-written (except for the jokes where the author clearly tried a bit too hard to be #relatable), I honestly don’t see much value in an article like this from the miles and points perspective.

  66. A very good read. Enaging, entertaining, and informative. Double checking my award bookings for next summet stat! Best guest blog entry thus far.

  67. Good writer. Keeps everyone wondering what’s going to happen next. Author clearly is Well verse in points and miles game. I would be at a loss if I were in her shoes. She’s a keeper.

  68. Good article!

    Now wondering the air china flight TPE-PEK with ANA mileage…should I worry about the ticket? 🙁

  69. Awesome article and great practical tip to make sure the reservation is truly ticketed with the operating carrier. Just a small suggestions to slow down the transitions a little but otherwise a keeper in my book.

  70. Agree this is the most helpful. Given many of us do crazy bookings with miles transferred to airlines and then booking tickets on a partner… troubles always happen. We could learn a lot from each other. Leave the novice stuff to Tgp and mms.

  71. great post.

    One point: China allows visa on arrival for people with onward travel to a different city. I think you can stay as long as 60 hours. Good for you that Delta was misinformed, as airlines often are about visas and other related issues, like passport expiration dates.

  72. Great post!! Very engaging and I love the humour. Hope you get to come on board at OMAAT!!! Good luck!

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