Frequent-flyer joys

I did a lot of flying for business last year and, as a result, became an Elite Status client for one of Canada’s largest airlines.

I was excited that flying in 2017 might be a little easier and slightly more comfortable.

As December approached, my welcome package arrived in the mail. Shiny, posh little luggage tags that now allowed me to walk past long line ups and check in on a priority basis. Upgrade tickets so I could enjoy the comforts at the front of the plane and relax a little for my next meetings.

Frankly, the package was more than a little confusing, so I took to Google to try to find out what all of the privileges meant.

In many instances, not a lot.

My first flight of the year was eventful. I checked in at Kelowna and found out that my connecting flight from Calgary had been canceled.

I talked to the gate agent in the departure lounge and asked if the airline would accommodate me with a hotel, they certainly would she indicated, but not their airline because it was a “code share.”

it would be United who would joyfully help me out.

Then came the next opportunity that allowed me to be a good Samaritan.

The first flight was overbooked; who wanted to get off?

Oh, me. I am in no rush. I have no flight out of Calgary and just a hotel to go to. I walked up to the gate and offered my seat. The gate agent was very pleased and heaped a pile of gift certificates on me.

I confirmed again, that even though I was in no rush, I would get a hotel. Correct she indicated. Go see United Airlines.

Later in the day, I arrived in Calgary and walked through security. I had had to change hotels at my final destination because the airline could not get me there and found out that I was too late to cancel.

So I was already down a few hundred dollars. 

I walked from security to the very last desk at YYC — United Airlines. “I have come to get my hotel details,” I exclaimed.

Not from here, I was told; your own airline will deal with that.

I must admit I was a tad frustrated and I had just walked past my airlines desk half a kilometre ago. I told the check-in clerk to get my airline on the phone and sort it out because I did not enjoy being a ping pong ball.

Off I went to my airline. “Sorry no hotels; it is a weather delay out of our control."

Now, I was a little heated. I exclaimed that I checked at the gate in Kelowna and was told there would be a hotel. I stepped off my flight to accommodate my airline's own booking error and now no hotel.

To make a long story short, after about 15 minutes of phone calls, the help desk exclaimed that because of my status, I do get a hotel and a nice one. Too late; I was really frustrated and tired of being bounced around, but nice to know my status helps.

More recently, I was late for a flight from Kelowna. My first grand daughter was born overnight at KGH and I decided to go give her a hug.

Given the traffic to the airport, I arrived only 25 minutes before my flight. Too late.

I get it. My fault. But they gave me a standby boarding pass and said good luck.

I ran through customs went to the gate and the gate agent said I had no ticket because of my lateness. The flight was full, but there was a chance a seat might open up.

Suddenly, just before they closed the doors I was called to the gate. My chance had come. She explained that a passenger had arrived late and was hurrying through customs, but was unable to make the flight if he did not come through in the next minute.

We waited for two minutes and then she said, “There he is, sorry, we can’t help you; the next flight is in three hours."

I sat down and wondered how 30 minutes before my flight I was not allowed to access my paid for ticker and yet as the doors closed another passenger came running through security and took my seat… perhaps my status was not that good.

Last night, I finished my work on Vancouver Island and thought my status allows me standby privileges. Rather than stay the extra night - I will see if I can get out on standby.

I attempted to check in last night and was told by an extremely snooty desk agent that “there is no such thing as standby, but I could spend $300 for a ticket home from Nanaimo."

I asked her to check at my status level. No standby according to her, just the option to buy another ticket.

Begrudgingly, I booked a hotel and stayed for an additional night. At my hotel, I called my airline special status helpline. “No such thing as standby for even our top tier passengers” the lady exclaimed.

“OK, I get that” I said, adding “but what does the line Airport Priority Standby mean in my privileges section?”

I was told by the second person that it does not say that, this time by an expert on my status who clearly knew a lot more than me. Confused I asked again what it means in my “privileges section” by the statement “Airport Priority Standby?”

I was told to write to customer service to get an answer. Really? Thank you Air Canada. Can somebody please tell me what “Airport Priority Standby” means? Is it a clandestine code for another service I have yet to discover?


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About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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