How Lounge Access Salvaged My Itinerary — Reader Success Story

Nov 16, 2018

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Stephanie, who sought a second opinion after her flight was canceled:

I was traveling from New York to Charleston for a bachelorette party, booked on a non-stop flight from New York-LaGuardia (LGA) to Charleston (CHS) at 9:40 am. I planned to leave my apartment around 6:45 am to beat traffic and spend time in the Centurion Lounge (thanks to being an authorized user on my grandfather’s Platinum Card® from American Express). However, I got a frantic call from my mom at 5:20 am saying my flight had been canceled.

After doing some research and enduring a painfully long conversation with Delta, I ended up booking myself on the earliest connecting flight, which took me to Pittsburgh (PIT) and Atlanta (ATL) on the way to Charleston. I would arrive almost eight hours later than originally planned, and I’d miss the whole first day of activities and dinner. My new flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until noon, but I decided to head to the airport as planned to see if being there in person would help, or thinking I could at least try to fly standby.

I begged nicely at the Delta check-in desk, but while they tried to help, unfortunately there was nothing they could do. I then went to the gate of the flight I was hoping to get on (from LGA to ATL), thinking I could ask the agent there to put me on the standby list, but they wouldn’t add me because the flight I was confirmed on was to Pittsburgh, not Atlanta. As a last ditch attempt, I thought that maybe the agents in the Delta Sky Club could help, and thank goodness I did. After explaining my predicament and five minutes of searching, the Delta agent there was able to book me on the very flight from LGA to ATL I was hoping for, and confirmed me on the ATL to CHS flight!

Had the story ended there, I would have landed about an hour and a half after I was scheduled to on my original flight, which would have been great. But my flight was delayed from LGA to ATL by almost two hours, putting me at risk of missing my flight to CHS. The line at the gate counter was a mile long, so what did I do? I went running back to my new friend at the Delta Sky Club, who kept my itinerary in case I could make the connection, but also confirmed me on the next flight from ATL to CHS.

Moral of the story: be nice to every service agent you speak to, keep trying and know what benefits you have with your premium cards — every bit makes a difference! I wouldn’t have had access to the Sky Club without my Platinum card, and I’m so grateful for the extra service.

If you’ve ever flown before, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that airline reps don’t always know what they’re doing. They may omit relevant information or provide bad information, and from time to time they can get outright hostile. Even those who try to help may lack the authority or training to do so effectively, but just because one agent can’t solve your problem, that doesn’t mean no one can. When you’re in a bind and can’t get traction with the person on the other end of the line, hang up and call again.

As Stephanie’s story shows, this approach isn’t restricted to phone reps. I’ve often found airline lounge agents better equipped to deal with schedule issues than other airline reps, and I think their help is a valuable (perhaps underrated) benefit of lounge access. Whether that’s due to superior training or simply because they’re able to work under less harried conditions, I recommend paying them a visit if your itinerary falls apart. However, this typically only applies to airline-operated lounges as opposed to contract lounges like those in the Priority Pass program.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Stephanie a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes, or to contribute to our new award redemption series. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured photo by Bounce/Getty Images

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