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The Adventure Begins...

Or how RTW tickets can be a bit of a pain...

My first adventure started at Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau airport, two hours before I was supposed to leave Montreal. My flight booking didn't show up on the self-service interface at the airport which I found to be a very inauspicious start to my trip. It turns out that when somebody on the other end of the planet doesn't understand when you say "I want to change my ticket from the 17th to the 14th", it is best to keep insisting, rather than say "I want to leave tomorrow" because depending on the time of day, the other person may already be living "tomorrow" and give you a booking for the day after tomorrow... Oops! All is well as there was room left on the airplane.

How it all happened, or business logic...

RTW (Round-the-world) tickets with Star Alliance, are priced based on the number of miles that will be flown (or/and covered with ground segments). The options are less than 29'000 miles, 29'000 to 33'000 miles, 33'000 to 36'000 miles, 36'000 to 39'000 miles. My original flight that included New Zealand was a little over 36'000 miles so it put me in the most expensive category and I booked it in April. As I decided to cut out NZ a few weeks ago, I checked how much the ticket would cost if I bought it today. 750$ less! So I called Star Alliance asking them if they would reimburse me the difference.

"No sir, we don't compensate you for a reduction of planned mileage."
"Okay, but if I had booked a much shorter flight and then asked to add a destination like New Zealand, you would then charge me the increase in rate, right?"
"Yes sir..."
"Does that seem logical or fair to you?"
"That's the way it works, sir..."
"Okay, so what you're saying is that I should cancel my ticket for a penalty of 150$ (penalty that I'd pay anyway by removing NZ), and then book a brand new ticket for 750$ cheaper, right?"
"Have you already started your trip?"
"Can I put you on hold, sir, while I check something?"
"Sir, we could reimburse you the airport taxes of the airports you are not going to fly to" (That would make a difference of about 60$, ie less than 10% of the difference...)
"Hmm... I think I'll cancel my ticket instead and just book a new one..."
"Okay, but I should warn you that your credit card won't be credited the amount for the first flight for 8 weeks or so..."
"That's fine, please cancel my ticket..."

I must point out that other than the odd reimbursement/charging policy, the people at Star Alliance (ok, I should probably say Lufthansa as they are the ones managing it for me) have been perfectly friendly and efficient...)

So then, I had to book a new ticket via the web interface, but unfortunately the system won't allow you to book the first flight less than three days before the start and it was the 13th (ok, evidence that I am a bit of a procrastinator, on occasion). So I booked for the 17th and then called to get the ticket changed. The lady didn't understand that I had booked for the 17th but wanted to leave on the 14th... I ended up insisting that I wanted to leave "tomorrow", but "tomorrow" when it is 10pm in Montreal, is "today" 4am when the person on the other end of the line is in Frankfurt, Germany... So then there tomorrow becomes my day-after-tomorrow... :-D


Posted by CVMB2010 13:45 Archived in Canada Tagged air_travel

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