I’m a pretty meticulous guy with a penchant for the details and I would encourage you to do the same when you book your award tickets. Airlines and Loyalty Programs are not infallible and on more than one occasion, I have had to fix an issue with my award ticket.
If you are able to catch these mistakes before your flight, it will save you a large amount of headache and potentially get you some extra redeemable miles for your troubles.
So let’s imagine that you’ve invested all your time and energy into figuring out which airline program you want to earn miles in so as to make it as economical as possible to redeem for your award ticket. You’ve earned the points, figured out your routing and found the availability.
You call into your chosen loyalty program and have verified that the seats are available and you get the award ticketed.
You check your email and you see your ticket and your PNR (Passenger Name Record).
Everything looks perfect!
Once you have your PNR, you can log into your airline’s website and see details about your flight. I often do this once the ticket is issued and maybe once a month after that. When I get closer to the date of travel, I’m checking much more often in the event that any issues arise.
This is how you find out if your award ticket may be in jeopardy.
What you are looking for are any changes to the details of your flight. In my most recent case, I saw that my PNR was missing legs.
Our flights were YYC-YYZ-YUL-IST-CPT-GRU-GIG-IAH-YYC and the YUL-IST and IST-CPT legs were missing when I looked at them.
All award tickets were booked in Business Class.
What To Do
Upon discovering this issue, I immediately called the Loyalty Program that ticketed the award, in this case, Aeroplan. When I explained that my flights were missing from YUL-IST-CPT (all on Turkish Air), the Customer Service Representative immediately involved a supervisor. After being placed on hold for a good 15 minutes, the supervisor came back on the call and let me know what was happening.
Like I had mentioned in the introduction, loyalty programs are not infallible and with the complexities of having ticketing systems work across multiple airlines, there are times when the systems don’t work as planned. That was the case with my particular ticket.
Unfortunately for Aeroplan, the two Business Class award seats that we had originally reserved were no longer available, so they were forced to purchase the seats as revenue seats to accommodate the award.
If this happens to you, unless there is a more favourable option to you, insist that the airline honours your award ticket rather than settle for being rerouted.
As a result of Aeroplan having to purchase revenue tickets to accommodate the award, the seats were considered full fare Business Class seats. This means that the ticket earned redeemable miles, which is the perfect situation. Not only are you flying for free on an award ticket, you are also earning miles towards your next redemption.
Now, this won’t happen very often but in the event that it does happen to you, you are now prepared to handle it properly.