Update: See comments 1 and 2 below for a possible explanation of what happened here.
About six months ago, I posted about the use of DL SWUs on AF – allowing someone to buy a premium economy (Premium Voyageur) ticket on AF metal and upgrade into business. This was notable because the premium economy prices were much better than DL’s Y/B/M fares, and there was generally “OK” availability in the upgrade bucket. I was successful in getting my parents booked into ATL-CDG round trip using this method – and by calling Delta for both the reservation and the upgrade. With the exception of the miles (both MQMs and earned) not showing up and requiring a phone call, the process was flawless. I decided it was time to try it for myself.
AF had a fare in PV for 1000 Euros, round trip, all in, from Newark to Dublin. Repositioning costs were cheap, so I called and booked it at the DL Premium Sales Desk. The award bucket was available (verified by ExpertFlyer), so they locked in the upgrades and assigned the long haul seats. This was all booked two months before the flight.
About 24 hours before the outbound, my seat assignment on the Newark-Paris segment disappeared from Delta.com. I called Delta, who advised that it was “a computer error” and that I would have no problem getting a seat at the airport. Having heard this line before, I called Air France, who told me that a computer error had deleted my seat, and that I would get one at the airport. Disgruntled but not shaken, I hung up.
Fast forward to 11 PM, the night before the flight. The all-too-familiar 800-221-1212 phone number appeared on my caller ID. A lovely lady (from Salt Lake City Reservations) starts apologizing profusely before I can get the word “Hello” out of my mouth. She explains that Air France has cancelled my upgrade, but that it is not my fault – it is Delta’s fault. She explains that they will be using my SWUs to put me on Delta metal (yay) on a flight out of Atlanta and into Dublin. I ask about the repositioning, and she cancels that flight and refunds my money. Four flights turned into two, at a cheaper price, in the right cabin.
I ask them how they caught the “problem”. “We didn’t,” she says, “a man from Air France reservations called and told us what happened. We took it from there.” And if he hadn’t called? “I’m not sure, sir, I’m just not sure what would have happened.” I’ll tell you what would have happened: I would have been in the back of the bus for a premium price. No one could ever explain why the upgrade was cancelled, and I wasn’t about to spend a bunch of time yelling at the French.
So thank you, Delta, for doing the right thing, and for providing this cautionary tale. Why it worked for my parents and not for me is beyond my understanding. BUT PLEASE, dear readers, use this as a lesson: if you are using Air France with a SWU, CALL AND CONFIRM with Delta and Air France within 24 hours of the flight. You just might be unpleasantly surprised if you don’t.
In news you don’t already know department: the A330 is still terribly configured. All this money is getting thrown at 777s, 764s, 763s, and 744s (and rightly so) – but what about the same thing on the A330s? That BusinessElite seat is turrible (H/T Charles Barkley) and needs to be replaced.