I spend a couple of hours a day on the phone with airlines booking awards for people, and there are call centers that consistently crack me up. One of my favorites has to be Delta’s SkyMiles desk. It never ceases to amaze me how little the agents know about their partner airlines. Just today I gave them a call to ask about award space on Jet Airways (one of their better partner airlines) between New York and Brussels, and our conversation went something like this:
Me: “I wanted to inquire about award space on your partner airline, Jet Airways, between New York and Brussels please for one person in business class on April 1.”
Agent: “I see availability in the main cabin for 90,000 miles roundtrip.”
Me: “I was looking for business class, and on Jet Airways please, not Delta.”
The agent put me on hold and came back a couple of minutes later.
Agent: “I see space in business class for 200,000 miles roundtrip in business class.”
Me: “And that’s on Jet Airways?”
I knew that was wrong since Jet Airways awards can only be had at the saver level (100,000 miles roundtrip), so she was obviously looking at awards on Delta. I decided to play along nonetheless.
Me: “And at what time are those flights?”
Agent: “That would be Delta flight 140 departing at 7:15PM…”
Me: “Sorry, I might not have been clear earlier, I was looking for award space on Jet Airways.”
Agent: “Yes, this flight is operated by a jet aircraft.”
Me: “Jet Airways is one of your airline partners….”
Agent: “Huh? I ain’t heard of them before.”
She then puts me on hold for a few minutes.
Agent: “I guess they are our partner, I had never heard of them before. They have no space for your dates.”
Me: “Okay, too bad, thanks for your help.”
Agent: “If you’d like I could check our other airline partners. I’ve checked SkyTeam and there’s nothing at the low level, though maybe Singapore Airlines has something through Frankfurt.”
Oh, the irony, given that Delta and Singapore’s relationship ended over seven months ago.
So as much as we complain about the outsourced agents at airlines like British Midland, United, etc., I actually find them to be consistently more “in the know” than Delta SkyMiles agents, and more geographically “skilled” (is that a nice way of putting it) than US Airways agents. After all, as far as many US Airways agents are concerned, the only Frankfurt in the world is in Kentucky. 😉
Though in fairness to them, agents at Delta SkyMiles have the toughest jobs in the industry.