The Biggest Lies Told by Airline Phone Agents

While many frequent readers know the ins and outs of booking award tickets, many do choose to solicit the help of an award booking service. Being on the Juicy Miles team, booking award tickets is a daily activity for me. In interacting with phone agents on a virtually daily basis, I have gathered some of my favorite lies I have heard from them. See if they sound familiar!

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United Airlines

On trying to book an award ticket that includes Brussels Airlines, an agent couldn’t find any award space, even though I was able to identify them. After asking to speak to a supervisor, I was told by the supervisor, “Brussels Airlines is not part of the Star Alliance award network. We partner with them on revenue flights, but we are not partners on award tickets.” Huh? I had been on the phone for over an hour, and got a little frustrated, so I did something I wouldn’t normally recommend anyone do. I told the agent that I was able to find award availability using Air Canada’s website. “Oh. Air Canada is just much closer with Brussels than United is.” K bye.

US Airways

In another instance, I called US Airways to put an award ticket on hold, for travel on Cathay Pacific. The agent happily obliged after finding the space. I figure I would stick with a competent agent while I had one on the line, so I asked her to help me with holding another ticket, which included a Qantas flight. Perhaps she got a bit uncomfortable holding two awards in one call…“Oh I can’t do that. You will have to either ticket it now or give it up. We can only hold itineraries that include only US Airways flights. Partner awards can’t be held.” Well that’s funny, because she literally just held a Cathay award for me…5 minutes ago.

Delta Air Lines

I was working on an itinerary to Mendoza, Argentina, and was hoping to book a ticket on a Aerolíneas Argentinas. After frantically typing for what must have been 10 minutes, the agent returned. “This is not a valid route.” I tried to verify that Aerolíneas Argentinas does have a route from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, and the agent agreed. “Yes, they do fly there. But you can’t book an award ticket there. Because you can only book award tickets to places where Delta flies, and Delta doesn’t fly there.” #Facepalm

American Airlines

As many of you know, middle of the night/early in the morning is peak hours for airports in the Middle East. I found an amazing itinerary that includes an Etihad First Class flight arriving in Abu Dhabi at 10:50 pm, connecting to one that leaves at 1:00 am. I called American Airlines to book the ticket, and (of course) the agent had trouble finding availability. After asking her to search for the two segments separately, we found award space! However…”this will have to count as two separate awards. All itineraries that has an overnight connection must count as two separate trips.” First day on the job?

What are your “favorite” blatant lies told by airline phone agents?

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  1. Once (on United as a GS), I missed my flight connection and was told there was no availability for three days — she confirmed me for a flight three days later! I was confused because it was Saturday afternoon with no weather issues anywhere. Just HUCA and the agent found plenty of space for the next few hours. … and yes — sometimes GS has to call to rebook.

  2. Delta: “Sir, you cannot book an award ticket on Saudia – it’s illegal for us to do that.”

    Aeroplan: “Tonga is not in the Pacific zone, it’s in Asia. That will be (some ridiculous number) of miles please.”

    Skypass: “We can only book bonus tickets on KE, not DL.”

  3. Five days ago, I was on hold for 30 minutes before connecting to a US Air agent. After giving her all the flight information, I asked to put those two first class tickets on hold. She said sure and quoted me the correct amount of miles. Everything sounds great…so I thought. Two nights ago, I was ready to pay for the tickets. Called back and waited for 3 hours (bad weather) this time!! Suprisingly, I was told the outbound was CX business class (not first) on the original reservation. Why changed? She didn’t have any clue. While still on the phone, I quickly checked BA.com and saw two F seats available. But the agent insisted she couldn’t see them. I hate to HUACA due to the long wait time. Plus, who knows if the inbound first class seats will still be available later. I had to make a decision to Take It or Leave It right at that moment. I decided to accept it. I called AA afterwards just to check if those CX first class seats exist or not. Guess what, they DO exist! Now I regret that I didn’t take a chance and call US Air back again. This will be our first time flying in F so we wanted to try CX that we have heard so much about. I know we will not be disappointed by their busniness class as we had done it a couple of times.

    Not sure what else I could do at this time. I certainly don’t want to pay $150 a piece to make the change. I could wait until after the merger and ask AA to change….if first class seats can be found. But I am not sure how AA will charge the reservations made by US Air. Any suggestion is highly appreciated!

  4. JW- I’m not sure if this holds true for US as well, but AA doesn’t charge a change fee to upfair an award ticket to a higher class of service. Just the difference in miles. I’d recommend calling back.

    • @TheChallenge – Thanks. US Air will charge $150 according to the text in the receipt: “Any change to this reservation (including flight, dates, award level, or connecting points) is subject to a $150.00 reissue fee per passenger.” 🙁

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