“I believe Mesaba Aviation is the code for Korean Air”

Back in June I wrote a post comparing airline call centers when it comes to award bookings, and Delta ranked dead last on my list. Yesterday they worked hard to maintain their ranking, as I called Delta SkyMiles to ask about Korean Air award space (since there’s no better way to do so, sadly). The (short lived) conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hi, I wanted to inquire about award space on Korean Air in business class please.”
Agent: “Where are you traveling to and from?”
Me: “It would be from New York to Beijing via Seoul. I looked at Delta’s space online but didn’t see anything at the low mileage level, so wanted to see if  Korean Air had anything available.”
*a minute of silence*
Agent: “I have an option for 220,000 Delta SkyMiles from New York to Beijing on Mesaba Aviation connecting to Delta, arriving at 11:00PM the following day”
Me: “Sorry if I wasn’t clear, I was hoping you could search award space on Korean Air for me, and not Delta, since I can see that online.”
Agent: “Sir, I am. I believe Mesaba Aviation is the code for Korean Air.”
Me: “I have a call on the other line and have to go, thanks for your help.”

Filed Under: Awards, Humor
  1. Please tell me this wasn’t the Diamond desk, normally the Diamond desk is very helpful (within the silly rules structure) and well informed.

  2. That is up there with the time a US Air agent told me that Lufthansa does not fly to Frankfurt anymore, only Germany 🙂

  3. I’ll bet if you asked for award space on Aeroflot from Minneapolis to Minot this agent would’ve checked.

  4. Better than my agent. When I called Delta to book an award ticket on a Korean flight they said that I should call Korean Airlines directly. When I responded by asking how a KAL agent would have access to my skymiles, she said to have KAL call Delta. Ugh!

  5. I remember that previous post and had to deal with US Airways for the first time the very next week. Your observations were spot on, they were so bad it was good! Afterwards I felt like I was taking candy from a baby…but only for a moment!

  6. “Sir, that’s a Mesaba AIrlines blackout date.”

    “Sir, Mesaba Airlines is no longer a Delta partner. Skyteam only includes Delta and Continental.”

    “Sir, the taxes are $852. That includes the international origination surcharge.” “But I’m starting in New York.” “But your return originates outside the United States. You wouldn’t have to pay that fee is we booked you on our partner Comair for 360,000 miles in economy.”

  7. Hilarious! Now in seriousness, presumably you’ve called back.. how is availability? Seems ke availability jfk-icn on the a380 is wide open but not sure how that translates into dl availability. would love to book family of four on that route in j

  8. Great one, but what were you expecting? They probably get a bonus for steering you away from aliance partners on onto their own metal. Duh? Mesaba? It was probably getting close to her break time. As you have learned, no one ever said that booking award seats was going to be easy.-C.

  9. I’ve had good luck with DL agents for KE and MH availability (Gold Medallion desk), but your story aligns with lots of things we read on the DL board on FlyerTalk. The first agent I talked to about KE availability knew she needed to check blackout dates (since DL imposes so many of them based on how they misinterpret KL rules) and said because of the blackout dates, she books very few flights on KE. She had some issues getting the flight to confirm quickly, but put the award on hold and a couple hours later everything was ready to go.

    @Phil: Word is that the A380 is increasing KE business availability to partners, but you’re still likely only ever going to find two seats at a time. (Generally was one before the A380.) However, you might be lucky and book two and try back a couple days later and get two more.

  10. @Chris T. – Come fly CityJet out of LCY. Mesaba sold their Avros to AF to get CityJet off the ground. I flew one LCY-AMS in May. Of course, they’ve been refit in 3-3 with tiny pitch, but the do have seats with better padding than you’ll find most places.

  11. My experience with DL agent back in Feb on KE award went like this. Hi, I’m looking for KE award from GUM-ICN (for the weekend). “I have a seat connecting via ATL (GUM-NRT-ATL-ICN-ICN)” I thanked her and promptly hung up. I called again and got more experienced agent to help me to book KE GUM-ICN flight.

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