If you’ve read the blog before, you likely know that I live in Atlanta and fly Delta. Last year, I decided to break up with traditional ideas about loyalty when it comes to airlines. I still flew Delta more than anyone else, but I also spent plenty of time on American and Southwest. Couple this with a slight reduction in overall travel, and the end result was that I dropped from Platinum Medallion to Silver Medallion with Delta.
The First Phone Call as Silver Medallion
One of the things I loved about being Platinum Medallion was the phone support. Platinum calls were usually picked up by excellent Minnesota-based reservations agents that seemed to know how to do everything. That said, the truth is that I did not have to call that often, but when I did it was nice knowing excellent support was waiting on the other end of the line. On Friday I had to make my first call as a newly demoted Silver Medallion…….the difference was palpable. First, there was a hold time of between “21 and 37 minutes” but Delta’s system will record your number and call you back when it’s your turn so I went with that option. I did note that there was a winter storm in the northeast. As promised, I got a call back in about 20 minutes. My reason for calling? I have two Medallion regional upgrade certificates (RUCs) from my Platinum days that I need to use before they expire. You have to call Delta to process these, though in retrospect, I should have tried DeltaAssist. I digress.
I opened the conversation with “Hello. I have an expiring regional upgrade certificate that I would like to use to upgrade my flight on Wednesday.” The reservations agent translated that to “so you want to cancel your reservation and refund it?” I should have hung up then, but wanted to see how it went. I repeated my original statement and the agent seemed to understand, but it quickly became clear she was not familiar with the type of certificate I wanted to use. She could be forgiven for that because only Platinum and Diamond Medallions receive them. I think the agent had found some reference material because we seemed to be progressing….certificate number, redemption code, etc. were collected but in the end the certificate would not process. I was placed on hold so she could talk to “support.” After several minutes on hold she came back to advise that I could not use the certificate because my reservation was booked by a travel agency. I knew that was incorrect, so I finally stood up for myself after 20 minutes of trying to process a simple upgrade.
I explained that there was no restriction on using this certificate on an agency booked reservation per the terms and conditions, which in fact, contain instructions specifically directed at travel agents for processing them. And then I rolled the dice. I suggested that she had gotten some bad information from “support” and should instead call someone that works the Platinum Medallion line. I think my being polite throughout all of this paid off, because she was absolutely agreeable to doing so. About a minute later, she came back, apologized again for putting me on hold, but said that she had another agent on the line who could help me. Once I talked to the new agent, who had a familiar Minnesota accent, the whole transaction was done in less than 2 minutes.
I don’t totally blame the first res agent, who likely has never been trained on processing these types of upgrades, but I would think “support” would know better than try to pawn me off with some ridiculous notion that you cannot use RUCs on travel agency booked reservations. The Platinum Medallion line saved me again, and I’m not even Platinum anymore. Fortunately, I rarely need to call an airline, but my first experience calling Delta as a Silver Medallion was less than satisfactory. I hope it’s not an indicator of things to come.
-MJ, February 8, 2016