Eight… and unfortunately it’s pretty much the norm.
I wrote a post a couple of months ago comparing airline call centers when it comes to award bookings. Delta ranked dead last in just about every way, as highlighted in that post. Today I called Delta to try and ticket a simple business class award for a client for travel on Alitalia. While Delta’s website displays award space on their own metal and on Air France, they don’t display award space for travel on many of their other partners. As a result you have to deal with their mostly useless call center, which, amazingly enough, is not outsourced (though probably should be).
I found the business class award space using Expert Flyer (“Z” space is business class award space), and the itinerary couldn’t have been simpler. It was a two segment itinerary, New York to Rome roundtrip. Amazingly enough, it took eight calls to get this reservation ticketed:
Call 1: “Sir, since Delta operates this route you can’t use miles for travel on our partners.” *click*
Call 2: “No, I don’t see the award space on Alitalia.” *click*
Call 3: “Alitalia isn’t in SkyTeam so you can’t use miles for travel on them.” *click*
Call 4: “There’s no award space in business class on that flight.” Just to make sure she was doing it right I said “just to confirm, you’re looking at award space in the “Z” bucket, right?” Her response was “sir, I know how to do my job.” *click*
Call 5: “Hmm, the itinerary is coming back waitlisted for me. Maybe it’ll clear in 24-48 hours.” She held the ticket and pulled the space out of inventory, though I immediately had them cancel the itinerary since waitlisted ones never come back confirmed. *click*
Call 6: “Sir, Alitalia has blackout dates then.” *click*
Call 7: “There is no award availability for those flights.”
Call 8: “That’s not a problem sir, and were you interested in a discounted rental car or hotel from one of our partners? How about a Delta SkyMiles Platinum Diamond Titanium credit card?”
The sad thing is, something tells me Delta likes things just the way they are!