If you fly with Alaska Airlines long enough, and you’re like me and contact customer service when things don’t go quite right, you’ll probably end up with a handful of small credits codes on your account. Alaska typically gives out $75 discounts for future travel as a customer service gesture, which I really appreciate. ?
These credits can stack up over time and if you get enough of them they can be worth quite a bit – especially if you travel as a family and things go sideways. During the Christmas 2016 season my family and I were stuck at an airport as Alaska bumped our flight over and over again – we ended up spending an extra five hours at the airport (three cheers for iPads with fully-charged batteries!). Alaska proactively gave each member of my family a $75 credit, and through other credits I ended up with a total of $475 worth of discounts. Great right? Not so fast.
The problem, and this won’t surprise anyone, is that Alaska’s booking system works in direct opposition to the concept of the customer service credits. You can only use one discount at a time, and discounts can’t be combined with each other or with offers such as a companion fare. On the one hand, Alaska apologizes for poor experiences with credits – but they make it extremely difficult to use them unless you travel frequently. Credits last a year, which is OK, but most people don’t travel 7+ times a year so I suspect most people lose their credits (which Alaska knows).
I wouldn’t go down so easy. ? Playing a hunch, I called their customer care department at 1-800-654-5669 – it’s important to call customer care and not their reservation agents – and politely asked if I could get all my discounts combined into a single code. The agent obliged and I ended up with a single credit code for $475. I was able to use it on my next booking and was delighted.
Fast forward a year later, after a few more sub-optimal experience with Alaska, I had few more credits – three of them being given to my wife and kids. I phoned Alaska and asked for the credit combination again, but this time I was refused. I was told credits given to other people couldn’t be combined into a single credit. I pointed out that my eight and four year old children did not book their own flights and thus couldn’t take advantage of the credits. The agent I was dealing with was unrelenting, so after 10 minutes of exasperated conversation and increasing blood pressure, I asked to speak to her manager.
The guy who came on the phone listened to be explain the scenario and immediately granted my request. He understood how ludicrous is was for the previous agent to expect my kids to use their own code. The manager explained that their standard practice isn’t to combine codes because it can be abused (strangers giving away their codes, etc.) but when it’s a nuclear family where the family travels together, they can make an exception. I was delighted with the outcome, and am happy Alaska has reasonable policies if you can speak to the right person. Somewhat surprisingly, the customer won in the end… ?
Have you had success with similar strategies with other airlines? Let me know in the comments!