In my line of work, I see a lot of rants about trouble that travelers have had with airlines. I’ve certainly had plenty of harrowing and frustrating airline moments in my family’s travels too. While I don’t mince words when an airline gets it wrong, I think it is really important to tell the stories of the times when an airline gets it RIGHT. Last year, I took to the blog to sing the praises of a Southwest Airlines gate agent going above and beyond. This time, Alaska Airlines is in the spotlight.
So here’s how Alaska Airlines did something totally small that is nevertheless worthy of public praise. I’m usually pretty good about monitoring my frequent flyer accounts to keep any miles from expiring (thanks, Award Wallet). I knew that my Alaska Airlines miles were about to expire and had been poking around for the best and cheapest way to keep them active the past few weeks. Of course, since I have two little kids and am a stay-at-home mom, being interrupted is a common challenge to accomplishing even the smallest of tasks like this. I just never ran the research to ground.
Mileage expiration D-Day came, and I settled on spending a few miles on a magazine subscription just to keep accounts alive. I completed a purchase using my and my husband’s accounts, but then it occurred to me… my daughter had an Alaska account too. Alaska doesn’t allow online access to Mileage Plan accounts for minors, so I hadn’t been tracking it in Award Wallet. I had no way to access it online to order a magazine, purchase miles, or anything.
I waited for the kids to go to bed and called Alaska to see what could be done. But I forgot the cardinal rule of dealing with a smaller airline – limited phone hours. Alaska’s customer care line closes at 5pm Pacific time. I figured all hope was lost and that maybe a call in the morning would yield a sympathetic agent who could help me (I’ve previously extolled the virtues of Alaska’s phone agents, so this wasn’t a far-fetched as might be the case with other airlines). In a last ditch effort that I didn’t think would even pay off, I tweeted Alaska to see if anything could be done. Amazingly, a representative got back to me with a promise to help.
@TripsWithTykes DM the mileage plan number to me. I can take care of this.- Andre
— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) May 19, 2016
Within a few minutes, Andre credited a single mile to the account to keep it active for my daughter – no magazine purchase even necessary. It was the smallest of gestures, but it definitely put Alaska back on my radar and reminded me how much an airline with empowered employees and good customer service makes a difference. I’ve flown Alaska regularly in the past but my travel destinations the past two years just haven’t matched up with their route map. You’d better believe, however, that I’ll be going out of my way to fly Alaska next time I’m on a route they serve (Oakland to Hawaii is when I usually fly them most).
So, a few lessons learned here. Don’t wait until the last minute when it comes to miles. And even if you do, occasionally an airline will have really awesome customer care employees who may just help you keep the faith. Airline customer service isn’t dead. At least not at Alaska Airlines. Thanks, Andre.