Problem with a Flight or Hotel Stay? Don’t be Afraid to Say Something, You Might Earn Some Extra Miles

If you travel enough (and if you are reading this blog or any points/miles blog you probably do), inevitable there will be times where the service at a hotel wasn’t satisfactory, or there was an issue on your flight. In most cases, you should bring the problem to attention of the manager or person in charge in hopes they could accommodate you or at least provide a satisfactory solution to your problem. Ideally, at this point, the issue would be resolved but say it can’t be fixed or the solution didn’t work out as you hoped? My advice is to document everything and followup with customer service after your flight or hotel stay and you might be presently surprised to receive miles or points for your trouble. 

Before I detail my situation, I recognize handing the situation after the fact only serves as a method to complain and can’t really fix the problem, since that problem is now in the past. However, if my problem wasn’t fixed to my satisfaction, I feel it is totally justifiable to raise an issue afterwards in hopes of getting compensation for your troubles. Sometimes that compensation will be actual dollars while other times it will be in the form of points or miles – it really depends on the situation.

My most recent travel issue a few months ago involved a red-eye Delta flight from Phoenix to JFK on a Sunday night after the #WestCoastDo. Being that this was a red-eye flight and I planned on going straight to work afterwards, I was really hoping to get 3-4 hours of sleep on this flight. The flight takes off as schedules and once we are allowed to recline our seats, I attempt to do so to maximize any chance of getting sleep. However, my seat was “stuck” and would not recline even a little bit. 

No recline for you!

No recline for you!

My first course of action was to immediately call over a flight attendant and let them know about the problem. Truthfully, she didn’t seem to care that much but noted she would write a note to maintenance letting them know the seat was not working properly. I then asked if there were any open seats on the plane I could switch to and of course, the flight was completely full. That mean I was stuck for the remaining four hours in an upright seat on a short, red-eye flight in which I really needed to sleep. Not ideal at all.

After the flight, I contacted Delta via email to explain my issues. I described the situation, what was done to fix it and most importantly, I asked for compensation for my troubles. I didn’t list out a specific amount but it was important to make it clear that since Delta didn’t provide their standard level of service due to a malfunctioning part on their plane which was their fault, I should be compensated for the hassle.

The next day, I got a response from Delta below:


I ended up with 3,700 SkyMiles for my trouble. I’m not sure how they determined that amount but I was happy with the resolution and considered the issue closed.


Here is a list of tips if you find yourself in a similar situation:

  • First try to have a manager/flight attendant/whoever is in charge fix the problem themselves
  • If not successful, ask them to document the issue so there is a record of it
  • Try to remember names of who you dealt and exactly how they offered to fix the problem
  • Upon returning from your trip, determine the best way to contact customer service to further discuss the issue
  • Describe the issue and how the manager/flight attendant/whoever is in charge attempted to fix the issue
  • Important: Ask for compensation since you didn’t have the typical experience (Delta/Hilton/Hyatt etc) strive for
    • In my situation, if I had paid for an upgrade to economy comfort, I would ask for a refund of my upgrade fee
    • Since I didn’t, I asked for “fair compensation since I was not able to properly utilize the seat as intended.”
  • Lastly, be professional and courteous with your response. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be stern and upfront about the issue but name-calling or cursing will not get you anywhere

If I didn’t complain about my issue with Delta, they would have not known about the seat malfunction and more customers down the line would been upset once they sat in that seat. Furthermore, while it didn’t solve the issue, I wouldn’t have received 3,700 Delta miles if I didn’t complain, which is worth about $37. Does that make up for a crappy flight experience? No, but it does make me feel better that Delta agrees there was an issue and wants to make me happy as a customer.

I’ve had similar experiences with JetBlue (when one of the bathrooms didn’t work on a flight) and on another Delta flight (where my TV didn’t work) and I got miles or a $50 credit in those cases. Have you ever got miles or money back for a bad flight or hotel stay?

Note: This is a scheduled post and I will be unable to answer comments or emails after undergoing laser vision correction eye surgery yesterday. I will respond once I am able to work on a computer again. 

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