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One step closer to a free flight: How to negotiate with airlines

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I fly to New York pretty often and I almost always take JetBlue. On top of being cheap and having a great customer experience, you get bonus points for booking online that translate into a free flight pretty soon. But I had a problem with my flight points last time. Here’s how I got it fixed.

I was using a gift certificate to book my roundtrip flight to/from NYC, but JetBlue doesn’t take gift certificates on its Web site. Because I had to call to book my flight, the representative told me I wouldn’t get the bonus points for booking online (100 bonus points=free flight).

This isn’t the time to say “ok” and walk away. I explained how I wanted to use the Web site, but it wouldn’t let me. Then I just asked her very politely, “What can you do to help me get those points?”

Notice how I didn’t say “Are you sure I can’t get those points?” Whenever something will involve more work, people love to say no. If you reframe the question–not “can you” but “how can you”–you’ll get pretty amazing results.

Anyway, she put me on hold, talked to her manager, and gave me the good news: They could award me the points even though I was booking by phone! Cool.

About 2 months later, I checked my JetBlue account and noticed they hadn’t credited me the amount. Again, this isn’t the time to walk away. I called them up, explained the situation, and they happily agreed to credit me the points.

A couple of big takeaways here: First, it was easy dealing with JetBlue because they’re a company that focuses on the customer experience. This is why some people pay more for certain companies: If they have a problem, they know it’ll be handled right (it’s also why I pay more for certain big-ticket items). Also, if you want something from a company, just ask! Most good companies are happy to oblige to keep you happy.

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