Recently I was wildly surprised to be approved for a mileage credit card through US Airways. I’ve been on a cash-only money situation ever since my credit went to hell during my divorce several years ago, and I have to say, I prefer operating this way. It’s hard to spend more money than you have when you can physically see that you literally don’t have it.
However, a friend posted this really great deal for a credit card on stupid Facebook, and I decided to apply just for fun. The deal went something like this: 50,000 bonus miles after the first purchase and paying the annual fee of $89, plus 2 companion tickets for $99 a piece. This seemed like a freaking dream come true, given the fact that me and mine are planning a Big Midwestern Extravaganza vacation this summer so that I can attend both my class and my camp reunions – now I could get my ticket free with the miles and each of my kids’ tickets for 99 bucks! Amazing!!
First off, we were hoping to fly in and out of different airports, since we’ll be spending time in Cleveland, Detroit, Kalamazoo and Chicago. Probably needless to say, the hours I spent trying to make that work by looking at multi-city flight options or one-way tickets to our respective cities were a big ol’ waste of time, as that is not an option for us because we’re using the companion tickets.
Okay, no big deal. The savings on those two tickets is worth a little extra driving. When on the phone with the airline finding out the above, I was told that what I needed to do in order to use the companion tickets was find the flights we wanted through American Airlines, then put the booking on hold and call US Airways to apply the companion tickets. See, they’d recently merged, but the merge wasn’t totally complete yet and so we had to toggle back and forth to make it all work.
If you know me at all, you know that this is approximately when my head began to explode.
But, okay. This is what we had to do. Okay, okay. Okay. So Paulie and I spent quite a lot of our precious few free evening hours coming up with a flight plan that was less than ideal, but workable. The next day, I called US Airways. “I’m calling to have my companion tickets applied to the flight I booked over on aa.com,” I told them.
“How did you hold a reservation?” the rep asked. Um, exactly how the last rep I talked to told me to…? Then, “and you can’t book your companion flights through American, you have to book them through US Airways.”
“Yes ma’am, after you purchase a ticket of $250 or more (my oh my that was some small print that clearly I’d missed) you can use you companion tickets, but you have to book through us.” I explained that there were four of us so, ok, if I purchased one ticket – and let’s face it, in what reality is a round-trip ticket pretty much anywhere only $250? – we’d still need one more ticket. I was told that I could redeem my reward miles to purchase that fourth ticket, but I had to do so through American.
What. The. HELL?!
Apparently the merger has gotten as far as transferring my miles over to American, but as the companion certificates were issued by US Airways, I have to use them on a US AIRWAYS FLIGHT ONLY. So not only do I have to book one ticket out of 4 through a completely different channel, I also have to eliminate any possible airline they work with save one.
So let’s recap, friends, shall we? In order to use the companion tickets (which as it turns out are more like $140 with taxes and whatnot), I have to first purchase a regular ticket through US Airways only, at a minimum of $250 (which will be closer to $400 +/- because that is apparently how US Airways rolls), then we have to then rush over to American Airlines to hope and pray that we can get the exact same flight using my reward miles. Fun Fun Fun!!
I decided the best course of action would be to call US Airways while on aa.com so that the booking agent and I could look at flight options at the same time, to guarantee we’d all be on the same flight. This turned out to be a great idea, and we were eventually putting together a flight itinerary that seemed like it might just work, Eureka! When I clicked on ‘redeem miles’ however, I was told that the 51,000 miles I have aren’t quite enough to get that one ticket. And yes folks, I lost my motherloving mind.
The agent, feeling sympathetic and trying to help, asked if I’d like to buy more miles so I could get up to the 60,000 required for the ticket. The cost to buy these miles was about the same price as buying an actual ticket.
I took a deep breath and said, “I’ll have to call you back.”
And then I screamed into a pillow for 50,000 bonus miles’ worth of time.