A Snippet from Expedia’s Elite Customer Service

I booked a South African Airways ticket on Expedia yesterday. The person I booked it for wanted to include their South African frequent flyer number with the reservation. But Expedia doesn’t include South African in their long drop down box of potential programs. So I dropped a note to the Expedia Elite Plus email address. A couple of hours later I received this strange reply:

Unfortunately, due to technical, regulatory, and/or other limitations, we currently do not support frequent flyer programs from all airlines. In this light, you would need to contact South African Airways directly and provide them with the passenger’s frequent flyer number. The number is 800-722-9675. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Technical, regulatory, and/or other limitations?Certainly there’s no regulatory barrier to adding a South African Airways frequent flyer number to a reservation. And a technical problem? Like that their website doesn’t support it? And if that wasn’t it, they are prevented by “and/or other limitations.” Well, that’s enlightening.

So Expedia’s Elite Desk tells me to pick up the phone and call South African. Now, they’re the issuing agent. They have the phone number. Couldn’t they just, like, pick up the phone and call South African? Then they could have emailed back “We apologize that our system doesn’t currently allow you to add a South African Airways frequent flyer program to a reservation through our website. I spoke to South African Airways and had them add the number to the reservation instead. Pleasant travels!”

Then I would have gotten my $7 booking fee’s worth!

Well, I guess perhaps I got my $7’s worth anyway, just not having to deal with South African’s website of which I’m not a fan. But how hard would it have been to offer superior customer service in this case?

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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  1. Double speak for we won’t invest in the programming or expend the labor to correct it manually. Apparently a cut and paste email response is more efficient.

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