I wasn’t the only one who took advantage of the incredible SWISS First Class award space made briefly available last fall. Hundreds did, including many other bloggers.
Robert from Milenomics shares of his settlement reached with Aeroplan. He had booked four SWISS first class tickets from Boston to Munich via Zurich for travel this July. Like almost everyone else, his reservation was cancelled without notice.
Like many, he also “stood his ground” and pressed Aeroplan to reinstate the cancelled reservation. Aeroplan refused. He has let the reservation sit for the last several months.
Recently, business class award space on Lufthansa opened on his preferred dates: a nonstop flight. Small problem: taxes/fees on the SWISS ticket were $22 while they were over $2000 for the for Lufthansa tickets.
Robert called Aeroplan and after some time on hold, an agent agreed to waive all fuel surcharges and refund the difference in miles (55K for business class vs. 70K for first class, so 15K per ticket) provided that he agree that any further changes would trigger a full re-fare. The change fee was also waived.
This is consistent with how Aeroplan has been handling other cases (at least those who push back).
Defeat or Victory?
I congratulate Robert on securing the four Lufthansa business class seats for his family. Not only will he get to fly nonstop (that means so much when traveling with kids), but he avoided huge fees he would have otherwise had to pay.
I got the feeling all along that SWISS really did mistakenly release this space. And Aeroplan (and other programs) allowed people to book that space. When SWISS decided their exposure was more than they were comfortable “eating” they decided to cancel the tickets, leaving Aeroplan in a bind.
Sources have led me to a different conclusion, or at least a different perspective.
What if months before this latest “incident” occurred, SWISS had warned Aeroplan that it would not honor any first class space it issued and Aeroplan failed to take reasonable steps (it now has) to block it from its system? In other words, if SWISS released space once again, it would not show up on Aeroplan. What if this issue has less do with an “error” in SWISS releasing space and more an “error” in Aeroplan allowing it to be booked?
Remember, all SWISS First Class awards issued on United were honored. Why was Aeroplan singled out? I’ve been led to believe that Aeroplan/Air Canada and SWISS had a specific agreement in place not to issue first class awards. Thus, the blame falls on Aeroplan…not necessarily on SWISS and certainly not on consumers.
What About My Case?
Unfortunately, Robert’s solution was unworkable for me. Maybe if I was in Munich or Frankfurt and had to get to Los Angeles it would have, but flying nonstop from Zurich was essential in my case with a baby and furniture. In any case, the space never opened so I did not have any other options to consider.
As for an update on my case — I can only say I have not signed any non-disclose agreement nor have I reached an agreement yet with Aeroplan. It remains my hope to avoid a lawsuit, but I will follow through on that promise if negotiations ultimately reach an impenetrable stalemate.