I have to be in Singapore soon and set up some award tickets at least as backups. I’m still not sure how I want to go and come back. I figured I wanted a ‘worst case scenario’ locked in, and that I can improve from there as award space opens up (hopefully) closer to departure.
- Outbound: Houston – Seoul – Singapore in Korean Air first class using 95,000 Korean miles and $34.29.
- Return: Singapore – Hong Kong – Boston on Cathay Pacific (business to Hong Kong, first to Boston) using 110,000 American AAdvantage miles and $70.36.
Now, I’m likely departing from and returning to my home in Austin but this was the best I could do to start although I considered Austin – Los Angeles (United economy) – Beijing (Air China First) – Singapore (Singapore Business) on the outbound.
I decided I was happy with a Houston departure. I could catch an early United flight or even drive a rental car one way. Unfortunately Korean Air has cancelled Houston service. They auto-rebooked me to fly Dallas – Seoul – Singapore. The next day. (Their Dallas flight isn’t daily.) That wasn’t going to work for me.
So I called up Korean and I told them I couldn’t leave the next day, what could they do for me? I knew there was award space out of several other cities but most of the flights would have forced me to depart about 12 hours earlier and lose a night at home. Chicago – Seoul – Singapore was available, however.
In the meantime a first class seat opened on Cathay Pacific out of New York JFK — that too would have meant leaving home earlier which I didn’t really want to do. Although I’d get to use American’s Flagship Dining again.
To my surprise, the Korean Air agent said
- “let’s look at what else is available out of Houston” and I thought she didn’t quite understand that Korean wasn’t going to be flying from Houston at all, it wasn’t just my flight that was cancelled.
- “would you be ok with two connections to get to Singapore?” I knew then that she was looking at alternatives, but assumed she’d offer me something on Delta and Delta doesn’t have a first class.
I said, “well would you mind looking out of Austin that would be even more convenient?”
And she suggested American Airlines to Chicago connecting to the Korean Air space I had found myself. She placed me on a brief hold and ticketed the new itinerary that has Korean paying for an American Airlines first class seat to Chicago.
It’s Not Korean’s 747-8 Suites But It’ll Do For Transportation
I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced such good customer service over the phone with an airline. There was never any pushback. There wasn’t any checking with a supervisor. Nothing had to be queued for a callback.
When schedules change or flights cancel it can be an opportunity to get an airline to open up award space that’s better than what you had. I knew for instance with a recent Cathay Pacific ticketing problem that if it wasn’t sorted I’d get American to open up first class on one of its own Hong Kong flights.
Here though I wound up better off than I originally was because I wouldn’t even need to get myself to Houston, my flight out of my home airport was now included. So I can cancel that Cathay Pacific award on the outbound, and start thinking about how I actually want to fly home.