Partner Award Booking Issues
A few weeks ago I shared with you that I was able to take advantage of a flight change and come up with a 190,000 mile win. Well, I tried to do something much less awesome and it came up snake eyes this time around. Why? Because I used a partner airline to book my flight. Even though partner awards are great for booking the same flights for way less, they can lead to partner award booking issues. I figured I would share one such instance with you that I came across today.
Mexico City Trip Original Booking
We have an MtM Diamond meet up coming up in a few weeks in Mexico City. We are heading to town to take part in Mexico’s Independence Day festivities. It should be a great time, and I have been looking forward to it for a while. Plus, I was able to snag a really good deal on the flight.
My initial booking was Detroit (DTW) to Mexico City (MEX) non stop on Delta metal. I was able to grab the flight for a price of only 25,000 Virgin Atlantic miles, quite the feat these days. When I logged into my Delta account to choose seats I was offered an upgrade to first class for the 4ish hour flight for 11,400 Delta Skymiles each way. An unexpected offer that I jumped all over. So for 47,800 miles, between the two programs, I was flying round trip in first class. I was pretty happy with that haul, especially with the way prices were at the time of booking.
The Dreaded Flight Change Email
A few weeks ago I got the dreaded, but totally not unexpected, flight change email from Delta. They had changed my flight from non stop to a connecting flight through Atlanta (my nemesis). And, it was leaving two and a half hours earlier in the morning, something I wasn’t thrilled with.
There was still a non stop flight the following day and I booked a day longer than I really needed to anyway. I tried reaching out to Delta first, looking to get lucky. I figured they may help me out since it was their change, plus I had booked a part of the flight with Skymiles (my upgrade cost).
The Delta chat agent surprisingly got on right away, and after checking, told me I needed to get with Virgin since I booked the ticket with them. Dang! Just what I didn’t want to hear.
A Couple Of Issues Here
I immediately knew this wouldn’t go anywhere for a few reasons. First off, I paid that upgrade cost for the flight with Skymiles. So even if Virgin Atlantic was able to help me switch flights I would lose the upgrade. Something I wasn’t really excited about doing.
Secondly, it would be unlikely Virgin would find saver space on Delta for the dates I needed. I booked this back in October of 2021 and was shocked to find saver space back then. There was almost no chance of it happening now. A quick search on Virgin Atlantic’s site confirmed this. I decided to give it the old college try anyway to see what they would say and see how long the process took.
Virgin Atlantic Is Of No Help
I fired up the Virgin Atlantic chat on their site and it took about 45 minutes for a response. Luckily, I had filled out all of the info since I totally forgot about it in the meantime. An agent did join the chat and read through everything. They confirmed that they didn’t see anything available for me the next day that I could change too. Whomp, whomp.
Partner Award Booking Issues – Final Thoughts
I have been talking for a few weeks now about not booking flights with travel portals because of issues like this. Well, it is something to be aware of with partner bookings too. The juice is usually worth the squeeze here though, since the savings can be huge. On the other hand, portal bookings only get you a few more points per dollar, which isn’t worth the potential hassle in my book.
One would think the airline that makes the change would just take care of you, since they are getting paid anyway. The rates they get from partner bookings are a lot lower than what they charge normal customers however. Because of that they are not going to go out of their way to help you. This also reinforces people to book directly with them in the future.
I guess I will just have to suck it up and take my first class flight with a connection now. First world problems for sure!