Reader Question: Denied Boarding On Avianca LifeMiles Issued Award Ticket?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question about Avianca LifeMiles issued award ticket on Star Alliance partner that the operating airline deemed invalid and forced the reader to buy a ticket.

Shenzhen Airlines

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Here’s the email from a reader:

I just had a odd experience with Lifemiles that i want to share with you and ask you if you have experience it or an explanation for it.

Used LifeMiles app to redeemed a ticket from SXZ to SHA on Shenzhen airlines. Business class, used about 22K Miles.  After i got the comf from Lifemiles,I emailed lifemiles support to ask for an e ticket number.  1 day later i got reply back with both the e ticket number and Shenzhen Airlines comf code.

Day of the trip, arrived at SZX  Shezhen airlines ticket counter. I was told by the agent that she is having trouble issuing the ticket.  She see the ticket number and everything but, the system is not allowing her to issue the ticke.  She called a supervisor.  I was told that Shenzhen airline is show “airlines has no bilateral agreements ” she allowed me to take a picture of the screen.  Please see attched.  I was then forced to purchased a paid ticket at the counter.  she told me that they can not issue the ticket.

Have you encountered this before? So what happened? Is there anything way i can prevent this from happening?  Was there a error on Shenzhen air or Lifemiles.  Is there a source for me to make a case for completion?

We covered a case in December where Turkish Airlines denied boarding on an Avianca LifeMiles issued award ticket:

Avianca LifeMiles Partner Ticket Disaster: Turkish Airlines Denies Boarding

The reader here refers to “issuing a ticket” that must be checking in and issuing a boarding pass.

The screenshot that the reader sent is what the Shenzhen Airlines system showed at the time. It correctly has the eticket number, class of service and shows that the reservation is confirmed.

Then there is, however, the warning stating that “AIRLINE HAS NO BILATERAL AGREEMENT.” This doesn’t make much sense. Avianca and Shenzhen Airlines are both Star Alliance carriers.

Like many other airlines, Avianca is in bankruptcy protection, and LifeMiles award tickets are issued on TACA’s 202 ticket stock (part of Avianca). The LifeMiles subsidiary in Bermuda is not affected.

The problem here is how the reader could get Avianca or LifeMiles to compensate for the Shenzhen Airlines ticket that the reader was forced to purchase to board the flight.

It is improbable that you can get any compensation out from Avianca or LifeMiles unless you can take them to court.

Conclusion

It is unclear who the blame lies here, and there is nothing more than the reader could have done. He had correctly received the Avianca eticket number and the PNR for the flight on Shenzhen Airlines.

There must be an agreement with Avianca (+ all its subsidiaries) and Shenzhen Airlines, as both are part of Star Alliance.

Chinese airlines tend to use local GDS for domestic flights called TravelSky. Perhaps there is an issue with Avianca-issued domestic award tickets on TACA’s 202 stick instead of Avianca’s 134?

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