I ended 2013 with Platinum Medallion status on Delta Airlines. In addition to flying over 75,000 miles on Delta, I also flew on a number of United Airlines flights in 2013, including Philadelphia to New Orleans, Newark to Portland, Oregon, New York to Sacramento, and Newark to San Diego.
Knowing that, on January 16, 2014, I was going on to Dubai on United Airlines – a trip which would accrue over 14,000 miles, I decided to request a challenge to MileagePlus Premier Platinum. I followed the MileagePlus Status Match Challenge instructions and emailed an application to the Premier Status department, together with all of the required information and documentation.
The day before I left for my trip, I still hadn’t heard back from the MileagePlus department, so I made call after call. Finally, I was connected with “Mark” who said he was a supervisor in the department. He asked me to re-email my application, which I did, and he then reviewed it. We spent a lot of time on the phone going through each aspect of my credentials. He concluded that I had met all of the criteria for the challenge and granted the status challenge for Premier Platinum. He even backdated the date of the challenge to December 26, 2013, when I went to San Diego. The San Diego trip and the Dubai trip would together exceed the 18,000 miles to satisfy the Premier Platinum Status Challenge. I was thrilled. I felt like a queen for a day.
All was well – United officially updated my status to Premier Platinum. I checked in for my flight online and my tickets indicated that I was gold star alliance and/or Premier Platinum.
The following day, while already on my way to my Dubai flight, I received an email from the MileagePlus Service Center advising me that my application was denied because I had previously done a status match.
We are unable to process a status match request for you since you were matched to another airline in 2009 and 2010. We do not offer a Premier Status Match Challenge for customers who have been matched to another airline within the last five years.
We appreciate your business and hope you choose to continue flying with United.
MileagePlus® Service Center
I was shocked. I didn’t even remember a prior status match. However, I scoured through old mail and learned that I did in fact take Continental up on a silver match in late 2009. It is not surprising that I’d forgotten about this match: I was only Delta Silver at the time, and Continental was attempting to lure Delta’s customers. It was a pro forma match essentially solicited by Continental, which I never even used. Frankly, I had no idea it would estop me years later from requesting a status challenge at a higher level with a new carrier. I believe that this prior match was insignificant and shouldn’t count against the present status application. Moreover, a supervisor had already reviewed and considered all aspects of my application. I thought, surely, this must be a mistake – what kind of business policy sense would it make for United’s management to approve a status challenge application one day and then take it away the next day?
After receiving the rejection letter, I wrote back to United – for certain, I thought the email was an oversight. I said that the matter had already been reviewed and resolved by a supervisor. United however responded that the supervisor was well aware of United’s change of position and next-day decline of the application. United offered me Premier Silver as a consolation. (I would not accept Silver Status as a consolation as I do not feel that this offer constitutes a just resolution to this dilemma).
Appeals were made to United on my behalf, asking the airline to reconsider its position and reinstate the Premier Platinum Status Challenge. The basis of the request combined not only the merits of my status challenge application, but also concepts of good business practices and public relations when a corporation reviews and grants an application.
While I understand that a rule is a rule, I do not believe that the Continental nearly pro forma Silver match of 2009 compares to this 2014 Premier Platinum status challenge to United Airlines. I feel that the initial decision was a proper consideration of the totality of my application, my background, and my positive intentions.
I believe that United Airline’s action in turning around the next day, and simply undoing a supervisor’s determination, at a time when I was relying on the decision and actually on my way to another continent flying on United Airlines, was wrong.
Of course, the door is open if United Airlines chooses to correct this, but I don’t know if it will.