Monday, June 06, 2011

The partners from Hell

Mrs. A and I have returned from two weeks in Uganda. It was a fantastic trip. We saw and did so much, I'm still kind of trying to process it all (and get over the jet lag).

However, one negative element of the trip was the incredibly disfunctional partnership between Delta and KLM. We flew OKC-ATL-AMS-EBB out and EBB-AMS-DET-OKC back. The full round trip was code-shared by both airlines, with KLM equipment on the flights in and out of Amsterdam and the rest with Delta equipment.

The first issue was that it turned out to be impossible to use frequent flyer miles to cover the flights. Not because there weren't seats, but because Delta said they couldn't get seats on the KLM provided flights and KLM said they couldn't get seats on the Delta provided flights. So it wasn't exactly true that we couldn't use frequent flyer miles, we just would have had to use twice as many as it should have been.

The next issue was that if you booked the flights with KLM you could only get amenities on the KLM provided flights (upgrades, special meals, priority boarding). If you booked with Delta, you could only get them on the Delta provided flights. This turned out to even be the case with seat assignments!

People, it is so bad that you are not even informed of SCHEDULE CHANGES on the flights provided by whichever company that you didn't book with!

At least KLM flew a modern plane with personal entertainment systems and such. The Delta equipment from AMS to DET was an ancient 747 with a couple of TV screens bolted to the ceiling.

More on the fun parts of the trip later.


John Thacker said...

Yeah, there's some bizarre bookkeeping that goes on so that airline partners minimize the number of seats that their users can redeem on partner airlines-- the problem being that Delta has to pay KLM to redeem on KLM and vice versa. So each airline would rather you use the miles themselves. This ind of crap is typical in the industry.

Of course, it is part of the wonders of laws designed to prevent foreigners from owning airlines. (The US is very bad in this regard with domestic flights, which is why Virgin had to create Virgin America. The Bush Administration tried to ease the rules on foreigners a bit, but Congress would have none of it.) In a world without that, there would be real gains from a truly multinational airline.

John r Henry said...

So are you going to tell us about Uganda? I for one would be interested in hearing all about your trip.

Most of my knowledge of Uganda comes from Donald Westlake's novel Kawaha about a gang of crooks who steal the train with the coffee harvest from under Idi Amin's nose.

Great book as are all of Westlake's books.

John Henry

Cheap Flights to Entebbe said...

I wish to go with you, not as man and wife, but merely as friends, travel companions, the sort of happy-go-lucky chums about whom rollicking old ballads of the road are written.