Yesterday, after learning that my SWISS First Class tickets from Zurich to Los Angeles had been cancelled, I quickly issued a legal threat. My point was not to be unnecessarily combative, but to underscore the seriousness of this matter and that unilateral cancellations will not be accepted. My hope remains that this issue can be solved quickly and amicably for all.
Threats can serve a valuable purpose, but today I’ll try something different: a plea to Aeroplan to honor what it confirmed and ticketed.
Something happened early Thursday morning. SWISS generally does not release first class award space to partners, but suddenly space became widely available over a number of days to many destinations. With that space released to StarNet, the inventory system in which Star Alliance carriers pull partner award space from, suddenly this space showed up on Aeroplan. It also showed up via other booking channels like Lufthansa Miles & More, United MileagePlus, and ANA Mileage Club.
This was not a “mistake” fare. Instead, this space was offered at published/standard pricing. Many tickets were issued, with miles deducted and credit cards charged for government taxes and fees.
Yesterday, however, these reservations began to disappear in the SWISS system. To this point, no one can explain what happened. Who initiated the cancellations and why? Why were customers not contacted before their reservations were unilaterally cancelled? Why do reservations still show as intact on Aeroplan but SWISS claims there is no longer a reservation?
These are all questions that must be answered and will be answered. Whatever happened, I think it is safe to say it was not Aeroplan who cancelled or wanted to cancel these reservations.
Aeroplan’s Important Choice
But in the meantime, Aeroplan can approach this in two ways. It can be an advocate for its customers or it can be a shill for Air Canada or SWISS. I hope it chooses the former over the latter.
Aeroplan may have been told by SWISS that these tickets were issued in error because it released the first class space accidentally. I hope Aeroplan will not accept that answer. Why should Aeroplan (and its customers) be penalized for SWISS releasing award space on its flight? This was still capacity-controlled seating that was already available to its own members. The only difference was that SWISS made it available to its partners…the sort of thing SWISS is supposed to do in the first place as a collegial Star Alliance member.
On the other hand, perhaps Aeroplan was told by Air Canada that it (Air Canada) was cancelling the tickets. Perhaps SWISS blamed Air Canada, stating its antiquated systems malfunctioned and issued tickets long after it pulled the first class space. Perhaps SWISS promised to send a bill for the full price of the ticket. That would place Air Canada on the hook and thus AC simply chose to cancel the ticket.
I hope Aeroplan would not accept this answer either. Once again, SWISS must be pinged when the award space is requested. If the space comes back confirmed, the booking can proceed. If not, an error message will display. The award space confirmed…SWISS released this space to Star Alliance members and should honor it.
The only way these reservations will be honored on a mass scale is if Aeroplan is willing to fight for its customers. I implore Aeroplan to take the moral high ground and work to ensure every cancelled reservation is restored. Aeroplan should prepare to sue SWISS or Air Canada (if necessary) to restore these fares.
Sometimes I wonder if this is all a juicy conspiracy. Aeroplan only has a couple years left before Air Canada resumes direct control over its loyalty program. But even now, Aeroplan cannot issue its own award tickets. Instead, all award tickets are issued on Air Canada stock.
Could it be that Air Canada willingly cancelled these tickets because it has no incentive to help Aeroplan? And if that is the case, does Air Canada really have any incentive to help customers like me who found their bookings canceled?
But if this is the case, won’t Aeroplan have an incentive to pushback hard against Air Canada?
We’ll soon find out. But in the meantime, I hope that Aeroplan is working around the clock to ensure that customers will prevail. This is a matter I would much rather see Aeroplan resolve for me than have to battle any entity in a court of law.
Please join me in tweeting to @Aeroplan a gentle request to fight for their customers.