Original Routing Credit: Why It Can Pay Off To Ask For A Different Airline When Experiencing Irregular Operations

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Every so often travelers experience interruptions in their travel plans when flights are delayed or cancelled and then people might find themselves rebooked on a different airline than originally booked.

Even if the new flight is on a different alliance that doesn’t partner with your frequent flyer program there is still a way you can not only get the miles for your original booking but also double dip and earn miles at a second program.

The key word here is Original Routing Credit which means that you call on your primary frequent flyer program to credit you the miles for the flights that you were ticketed for, even though you ended up traveling a different route.

How will this work when push comes to shove?

Last week I wrote about my experience when Malaysia Airlines at Bangkok Airport re-booked me onto a different flight operated by Thai Airways due to a long flight delay (see my article here).

The original route would have beenin Business Class on Malaysia Airlines (oneWorld) Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur-Seoul which I’d have credited to my British Airways Executive Club Gold account. With that connection totally messed up once again by Malaysia Airlines there were two options for a direct flight: Korean Air and Thai Airways.

Step one when being in such a situation is to decide what flight would be most attractive to you in terms of timing but also if you will enjoy any benefits as part of a frequent flyer membership (especially important if you’re being re-booked into Economy Class).

For this reason I always try to maintain at least two Elite Tiers, one is my Star Alliance Gold and the other oneWorld Emerald. This way I always have an alternative available if my original option falls through such as in this case.

I decided to pick the Thai Airways flight because I’m able to credit it to a program (United Mileage Plus) that is actually of use to me and it would arrive at the same time as my originally booked connection (6:30am). The Korean Air option was discarded early because I don’t have any benefit collecting mileage from Korean Air to any program except maybe Alaska Mileage Plan. The Lounge KE uses in Bangkok is also quite terrible (Air France) and their check-in didn’t open until 4 hours later.

I was able to check in with Thai Airways as soon as I got my FIM document and used the Spa for the complimentary treatment available to all Thai Business Class customers. I then spent the evening at the new Singapore Airlines Lounge having dinner and drinks.

When I reached my destination the next day I wrote an email to British Airways Executive Club with the following content:

Dear BA,

On my recent itinerary on Malaysia Airlines, my Business Class flight from Bangkok via Kuala Lumpur to Seoul-Incheon was impacted due to IRROPS.

My original routing on 9 NOV 2017 was BKK-KUL-ICN on flights MH783 (Z Class)/MH66 (Z Class) in Business Class, but due to a 4 hour delay of MH66 in KUL, I was instead routed to a direct flight on 9 NOV 2017, BKK-ICN on flight TG658. Unfortunately Thai Airways is not a oneWorld airline and I wasn’t able to collect any Executive Club Miles or Tier Points on this sector.

I would like to request Original Routing Credit for this reservation in order to secure necessary tier points for my BAEC Gold Status this year (tier points for the return portion of this journey should post as originally scheduled).

My ticket details for this itinerary is

Eticket Number: 232-xxxxxxxxxx
Issue date: 24OCT17
Issuing airline: Malaysia Airlines

If required I’m able to submit you the FIM document Malaysia Airlines provided for the TG flights stating the involuntary rebooking and new itinerary.

The request was submitted and I received an answer in roughly 48 hours from the BAEC membership team:

At least British Airways is very active and willing to follow up on this. Once verified by Malaysia Airlines (unless they screw this minor task up as well – wouldn’t be surprising) the miles and tier credits will be added to the account. This is about a total of 140+40 Tier Points so a significant amount considering you need 1,500 per year to qualify for BA Gold (I only need 30 Tier Points more but still…).

When checking in with Thai Airways I gave them my United Mileage Plus number and the miles were credited within 3 days for booking class C (full fare).

It’s always good when you can turn a disadvantageous situation and turn it around, maybe even make a little extra in miles. This requires to be flexible, be able to make some quick decisions and also knowledge about the available alternative flights for which I use Expertflyer to check availability in such a situation.

You should always make sure to double check any and all information an airline gives you because simply put you’re rarely being told the truth. Most of the time airlines try to keep you on their own flights and tell you nothing else is available. Malaysia Airlines told me so as well on the phone prior to going to the airport. Total incompetence and lies because they don’t want to spend money rebooking passengers. I got it done at the airport after all but ended up spending 5 hours for nothing in the terminal (lounge).

Not all programs are easy with these Original Routing Credit requests. Sometimes it also depends on the operating airline. While it’s generally easy to get this approved for the airlines own frequent flier program, they often decline granting ORC requests for flights operated by other carriers.

Conclusion

There are many things that come into play here. Generally speaking this is a customer service issue and members have no given right to demand original routing credits based on the Terms & Conditions of their program.

I had good success in the past of getting those approved though I was also a bit nervous if British Airways would actually approve my request. Even though so far the points have not been added yet I believe they will process it properly as promised. I could always try again with American AAdvantage if BA denies the request but it would certainly my priority to get the credit on my Executive Club account.

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