The 787 problems are no doubt throwing off a lot of peoples’ travel plans, as there’s no date in sight for when the 787s will be flying again. While airlines are doing their best to substitute other aircraft onto 787 routes, that’s not always possible, and it’s leading to cancellations. Which brings me to reader Michael‘s question:
I’m one of many who is ticketed for NH 787 award travel (SEA-NRT) and has had the flight cancelled. So, I’m pretty sure I should be rerouted on NH metal TPAC, but lots of FTers are reporting heavy resistance from FF programs in accommodating the changes — including a report of Aeroplan only reaccommodating in award class economy.
In my case, I’m booked on US Airways miles and my friend is booked on Aeroplan miles.
Could you maybe write a blog post on what to do in the case of award flight cancellations — what to say when calling in, calling the award carrier or the operating carrier, that sort of thing — especially given that there’s basically zero TPAC J availability for my dates of travel? I think many would find it helpful — I certainly would! Such a post would be much appreciated. Thanks!
To start, there are a few general award travel guidelines to keep in mind:
- All changes to award tickets need to be made with the airline that issued your ticket (meaning the airline with which you redeemed your miles)
- Airlines don’t have the ability to open up award space on other airlines
- Airlines do have the ability to open up award space on their own flights, but if another airline canceled your flight they’re under no obligation to do so, though they usually do as a courtesy
So unfortunately the rules aren’t “crystal clear” here. Let’s take US Airways, for example. If you redeemed your US Airways miles for travel on ANA and ANA cancels a flight, US Airways doesn’t have the ability to accommodate you on their own flights, given that they don’t even fly to Asia. Their reaction would be to try and find you award space on one of their partner airlines, be it in coach or business class, since most agents think that’s all they can do.
But what you need — and I’ve written about them before in another context — is an alliance liaison. A general reservations agent will almost never proactively suggest this and often doesn’t even know they exist. But basically each alliance/airline partnership has an agent that liaises between airlines when serious schedule changes or cancellations occur that can’t reasonably be fixed without intervention.
Basically they’re the agents that have the ability to apply logic to a situation — ANA canceled your flight, there’s no award space to your destination in the same cabin otherwise, so it should be on ANA to fix the problem for you. The issue, as stated above, is that you can’t work directly with ANA since they didn’t issue your ticket.
The best way to get a liaison is typically to ask to be transferred to a supervisor with the airline with which you issued the ticket and explain the situation. The keys are that another airline cancelled your flight and that there are no suitable alternatives. Ask specifically if the case could be forward to a Star Alliance liaison. A supervisor should know what this is. This isn’t an instant process. They have to put in the request, the liaison reviews it and talks to the airline operating the flight, and hopefully they “sell” the award space for the flight you’d like into the itinerary. It can take a few days, but is the only way something like this can be fixed.
If you get an agent or supervisor that doesn’t know what a liaison is, hang up and call again.
Hopefully that answers your question, and good luck!