My Very First Call from a Frequent Flyer Program’s Auditing Department

I was walking into a meeting when my cell phone rang. It was someone in the auditing department at US Airawys.

“This is XXXX from US Airways. I see you have an upcoming trip with [my wife]. Are you still planning on taking that trip?”

“Umm, which trip is that?” I do have more than one upcoming itinerary, so really didn’t know what she was talking about.

“Departing on XXXXX.” Oh, my India trip! Now I was scared, I’m being called by an auditor about an award redemption. And I thought she might do something unpleasant. Like cancel my award.

“Yes, of course. What seems to be the matter?”

“Well, you don’t have enough miles in the account for that.”

“The miles were taken out of my wife’s and my accounts separately for this. And I certainly do have plenty of miles still in my account!”

“Well, the miles were taken from your wife’s account but there’s no other mileage number in the reservation. And she didn’t have enough miles.” Now I was really concerned that she might do something unpleasant. Like cancel my award.

Leave it to US Airways to issue tickets, and not even have an audit travel of the miles tied to a reservation. The tickets were queued up for auditing, flagged somehow, because miles were pulled for only one ticket instead of two. The auditor looked at the account, saw there were enough miles to support the second ticket, and was ready to cancel my trip. Glad that I answered the phone, though I like to think they’d have left a message with a number to call them back and would have given me the chance to do so.

In fact, the miles were pulled out of my account for my ticket and my wife’s account for hers. But apparently because the reservation was initially set up as two passengers on a single record locator when I held it, and only split later when they pulled both of our miles, both reservations appeared as though they were being support by my wife’s account. My miles were taken, but that deduction wasn’t in any way tied to my reservation!

Once the auditor looked up my account, saw the miles were pulled from it, she entered my Dividend Miles number into the reservation (had no idea it wasn’t already in their, the US Airways website isn’t especially reliable…), and assured me that I was all good.

Here I thought I was already good when I could see all of my flights with ticket numbers on the operating carriers’ websites. And indeed I still can, so fortunately US AIrways hasn’t done anything unpleasant. Like cancelling my award.

In the end all was fine, but it points out how US AIrways’ systems don’t speak well with each other, how processes are manual, how small glitches on the part of an agent can trigger problems, and how US Airways has gotten much more aggressive these last few months in their auditing.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Sounds like some back-end operations ran amok, and unfortunately now impacts the customer. I understand that they have a job to do, but get your ducks and facts lined up.

  2. Wow, interesting !

    At least they weren’t auditing the
    2 million or so TIB miles you earned !!

  3. Something very similar happened to me recently. I had booked an award for my daughter and charged the miles to her account. Several weeks later, my own account was ALSO docked 125,000 miles for the very same trip.

    I’m glad they called you. I don’t mind that they audit, even aggressively, but the idea that they might just cancel an award rather than first trying to resolving their doubts is unsettling.

  4. I had been softening my stance on USAir over the past couple of months, with morale seeming to improve and good financial numbers, but this illustrates that they still operate the company like Allegheny. Also, my round trip last week was not good, featuring GA/FA lies, and a 60 minute delay due to ACARS not being able to display weight and balance, and the GA not knowing how to print it out at the gate. After 55 minutes of sitting in the cockpit of a fully loaded A320, the captain finally got up and went to the gate and printed it himself.

  5. Gary – one question for you. I am planning on booking an ward trip to India using soon to be purchased Dividend Miles. I see Lufthansa availability through ANA for both First Class and Business to FRA and then Turkish Airlines to BOM. US Airways charges 120,000 miles for business and 160,000 miles for a First Class redemption. In your opinion, is the 40,000 mile premium worth it for Lufthansa?
    Sorry to be off topic – but I saw that you mentioned about an upcoming trip to India, so thought it would be a good idea to bounce it off you.

    Thanks

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