Oh Aer Lingus! Why did you ruin my day? I spent an outrageous amount of time on the phone yesterday for a task that should have taken at most two minutes. It’s still not done!
What is this strange request that nobody could do for me? Select seats. That’s right, I wanted to choose a seat for an upcoming flight. It is 2018 and apparently this is one for the too hard basket.
Redeeming Avios For A Flight
It all started on Saturday night when I decided to book a flight from London to Dublin. British Airways had no Avios availability so I decided to log in to my Aer Lingus AerClub account and check availability there.
AerClub use the Avios platform linked to their web site for flight bookings, so I signed in, found flights and bought them. Everything was fast and efficient and I went to bed happy.
A Game Of Telephone Tennis
You know, I fly frequently and this means I also have a favourite seat. When flying Aer Lingus I happily pony up the extra cash to get Priority Boarding and the seat I want. When I went to the web site to do this, it said I should contact the airline.
Around this stage I noted with curiosity that my Avios ticket was booked with a 125- ticket number which means it is a British Airways issued ticket. I knew this was why I had to call Aer Lingus as the web site doesn’t work for these.
Usually I contact them, provide the booking number, get asked for the ticket number and seats are assigned. Not today! The friendly but kinda-wanting-me-to go Aer Lingus rep quickly told me that as it was an Avios booking, only Avios could assign my seats.
Since this was my first time booking using Avios with Aer Lingus, I duly went and contacted Avios as I had been instructed. After a 10 minute hold, the friendly British lady told me that no, they had no access to the Aer Lingus seat maps and that I should call the airline. I explained I had, she apologised, but said I must have been given the wrong information.
More Outrageous Shenanigans
All well and good, this happens. I used to supervise people in a call centre, so I know how variable the employees can be, so nothing outrageous yet. I also know Aer Lingus have a bespoke in house reservations system that is not really all that connected to other computer systems.
Back to Aer Lingus where the agent took all my details, put me on hold, then came back to say that no, they are not permitted to touch Avios bookings otherwise they will get in trouble. The upshot is that I was told I needed to call Avios. I related my story and asked for her supervisor.
Long story short, the supervisor was on the phone and couldn’t take my call, but still managed to tell the agent that absolutely I had to call Avios. The agent suggested I take the name of the person at Avios, that I must have got someone there who made a mistake, and it happens frequently that people come through from Avios trying to talk to Aer Lingus and they really should fix that.
Guess what? Back I went to call Avios and got Tracey who also backed up the company line that they had no access to put seat assignments into Aer Lingus bookings.
Tracey informed me that the supervisors at Avios don’t talk to customers, which is fair enough. I was put on hold for some time, and then she came back to tell me that her supervisor was trying to force the seats into the Aer Lingus booking which may or may not work.
After another short hold, she came back to say her supervisor would try to do it and failing that would “contact oneworld, who would contact Aer Lingus to get them assigned.” Since Aer Lingus is not in the alliance, I fail to see how that will help.
Anyway, again the service was very friendly and I was promised a call back before 4pm Sunday which is when they close, or she’d come back to me on Tuesday when she is back in work.
There has been no call yet and I can see the seats are not assigned, so we’ll see what Tuesday brings. They have extended the 24 hour cancel and get a full refund to Tuesday so time will tell.
It Is A Disgrace
It is a total disgrace that this is happening in 2018. I logged in to the Aer Lingus web site, I logged into my frequent flyer account at Aer Lingus and I booked through the links on their site. I am not doing anything I don’t do all the time with other airlines.
The fact that Avios issue a ticket from the British Airways system is not really my concern. My concern is that the airline itself can’t touch a booking issued by its own frequent flyer programme for passengers on its own services. What a joke!
It is an outrageous set of circumstances really. Aer Lingus are clearly constraining their call centre staff by not allowing them to select the seats, which I know they have the ability to do. Obviously a memo has come down to say don’t, but they can as they have done it before for me. Obviously.
Both reps at Avios were quite clear they couldn’t do it either and you know what, I believe them. It’s long been a fact that if you book an Aer Lingus ticket through British Airways and need a seat, you contact Aer Lingus as BA can’t do it. Avios are basically part of the BA ecosystem so this rings true.
At this point I have no seat and will wait to see if I get a call on Tuesday. I fully expect the result to be, “You need to call Aer Lingus…” so it will be interesting to see what my response will be.
How have your experiences with the Aer Lingus AerClub been so far? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Featured image by captainflorent via Instagram.
Aer Lingus A320 at Birmingham by Rob Hodgkins via Wikimedia Commons.