Did Singapore Airlines Just Illegally Cancel My Ticket?
Singapore Airlines may have an incredible First and Business Class product with fantastic ground staff and flight attendants. However, when it comes to their call centre for general reservations and their mileage programme, KrisFlyer, the same can’t be said. Seriously, I’m not joking – even United agents are more competent than KrisFlyer agents.
The problem with SQ phone agents is that they consistently:
- quote the wrong amount of miles required for a ticket
- even on simple, one-way bookings
- more often than not, will tell you the routing is invalid
- even if you are flying Seattle – San Francisco – Houston
- have no idea about who their partner airlines are
- even Star Alliance members
- tell you there’s no availability
- even when the GDS, Aeroplan, ANA, and United see award space
I had to recently make a booking using SQ miles on Alaska Airlines from mainland US to Hawaii… and I knew going in that this was going to be quite the challenge as I’d probably have to call back at least five times before I find an agent who knows that Alaska is a Singapore Airlines partner.
Surprise, surprise, I had to hang up and call again a few times before I found an agent who was willing to actually check award space on Alaska Airlines and instead didn’t yell at me that “United is the only partner available”. I was able to provide them the flights with award availability which I found on Alaska’s website (booking class “W” is the saver Alaska Airlines Economy fare code). Naturally, the agent told me there was no space on those flights and that we should look for United Airlines flights. I said there was space and that the agent needs to look in “W” class instead of “X” class (Star Alliance Economy award fare code), and they put me on hold for 15 minutes.
15 minutes later I once again had to remind them to look in “W” class and not “X” and after a bunch of pointless back and forth, finally the agent agreed and not shockingly, we had a booking made with the correct flights in the correct booking class. The next challenge was issuing the ticket – the agent claimed that I needed 132,000 miles for a round-trip Economy Class ticket from Seattle to Los Angeles to Honolulu on Alaska Airlines… Singapore, where on earth do you get these prices?! 10 minutes and more arguing later, the correct price was quoted and the ticket was issued.
To be clear, I had a ticket number right now and the booking was visible on SQ and AS websites. I called AS to enter in my AS mileage number and I was able to select premium seating, my credit card was also charged the full amount of the taxes and fees. Everything was 100% confirmed and ticketed.
I began to book hotels and about an hour after I ended the call with Singapore Airlines, my phone rang and it was an SQ agent who advised me that the wrong flights were booked and they were “out of range” and they were cancelling my ticket and refunding me the miles and taxes for “free”. Excuse me, what?
No further clarification was given other than we needed to cancel what was booked and book something else. I said absolutely not and said the ticket was issued properly and the correct amount of miles was deducted.. there was absolutely nothing wrong with the ticket. The agent again said the flights were “out of range” and booked incorrectly and that Alaska would deny me check-in if SQ left the booking as is. I had no idea what they were referring to when they said “out of range” and therefore I asked for a supervisor… who was not helpful at all and said the same thing the agent said – cancel and rebook.
They proceeded to cancel the ticket. Then of course they told me nothing was available and that we should try other dates and that I would have to travel on different dates. Oh hell no. I refused and said the ticket needed to be reinstated as they cannot just cancel a ticket without my permission… especially if it was issued properly in the first place! Both agents were unhelpful, rude, and incompetent… so I hung up.
I called back a few times and talked to more agents and supervisors, all of which confirmed the booking was cancelled and they had no idea what “out of range” was, and they also confirmed my original flights were no longer available (even though there was “W” class available). Then one agent finally said something that made me realise what “out of range” is. The agent said “we can book you Seattle – Los Angeles, but not Los Angeles – Honolulu”… essentially Virgin America, WHICH NO LONGER EXISTS, was the issue. Singapore Airlines is basically claiming that they cannot book flights with Airbus aircraft on Alaska Airlines… even if there is availability WTF?! And they can book it because they already did!
I pushed further with no resolution. One supervisor said that SQ will review my “case” and make a “decision”. What case? I want my ticketed booking reinstated as it was cancelled by SQ without any reason. Virgin America does not exist anymore and all flights are Alaska flights now. I spent 5 hours on the phone arguing with incompetent SQ agents who keep telling me different things about why my booking was cancelled and they are refusing to reinstate it.
Did Singapore Airlines illegally cancel my ticket for no reason? It was fully booked and confirmed and I am not buying this B.S. with Airbus aircraft that belonged to Virgin… seriously? I called Alaska and spoke to a supervisor who confirmed there were no restrictions on partner bookings as Virgin does not exist anymore and all flights are operated by Alaska.
So what do I do now? Hope that SQ reinstates my booking? How else can I fight this if every Singapore Airlines agent I am speaking with doesn’t have any clue what I am talking about and the agents that do are making up excuses. How did they catch this booking originally after it was ticketed that it was an “out of range” booking? All of this sounds like a bunch of lies to me and while I am not too familiar with transportation law, I am more than confident that a booking that was properly made cannot be cancelled just because they decide that suddenly you cannot book a certain type of aircraft with a partner airline? I mean what kind of explanation is that?
I’m not sure what to do here, would a US DoT complaint work? Should I take legal action? I’m not going to let this go as this was a valid booking and not a mistake. There’s no way that SQ has a rule whereby you can’t book a certain type of aircraft with a partner airline. The fact that SQ is refusing to help me in any way is also incredibly frustrating as you’d think that a world-class airline would actually care about their customers… but no, my flights were booked “out of range”… so they cancelled it for “free”… seriously?!
Hi Dominik, thanks for posting this. Readers like myself don’t have the knowledge to challenge agents so these kinds of examples are very helpful. Keep at it!
Agree with above. You tried your best. At least you know and didn’t find out at the airport it’s cancelled. There are several of these partners that are hard to book. Not worth the fight.
Unfortunately the agents and the managers won’t be able to something that the system doesn’t allow them – which is what I suspect the issue is. After your ticket was manually issued ticketing cancelled it. Sometimes the restrictions are not obvious, other times they are just hard coded somewhere and the ticketing department is the only one who knows.
Dom, you are correct, but it’s not worth the fight. Just buy the ticket, keep the miles, and in the future, book online only. Value your miles by this experience accordingly and don’t put yourself in a financial position where you only take the trip if you use miles. Spend your time educating yourself and building your business so you can simply pay cash for the flights rather than fighting with customer service for 5 hours. For me, points and miles are for the icing of life, not for the cake. I don’t need them, but it’s a fun hobby.
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