Monday, March 19, 2012

Starwood SPG Flights

I am a huge Starwood fan.  I love the hotels and I love the rewards. For the most part I have been really happy with the hotels that I could book using Starwood Points and with the Transfer rates to the various airlines.

However... I just had a really stupid and annoying experience trying to book a flight through SPG Flights.  I wanted to fly Jet Blue, which is not an airline to which Starwood points can be transferred.  However SPG flights does allow you to book Jet Blue flights, so I went through the SPG Flights reservations system, found my flight, and clicked "sign-in and continue" and I was given a Brower error page.  Not a response from the web server, but from the browser itself that there was an error with the flight.  Very annoying.  I tried again, I tried a different browser, always the same error.  The URL is clearly going to Starwood, to a login URL, passing a token, and passing a URL back at SPG Flights to which the user should be redirected after logging in.  The problem is that it didn't work. The URL is broken.

Annoying but not the end of the world.  I called the toll free number to book the flight, but they are not open after hours or on sundays (it was Sunday night).  Damn.  Tried again in the morning.  The flight was now 5000 points more expensive.  That is really annoying.  Called the number and was told that they cannot book flights by phone, it has to be handled through the website.  Wow.  Tried modifying the redirect URL and finally removed the 'S' from HTTPS, and suddenly I got the login page and was able to confirm the flight.

Asked the representative to credit me 5000 points since their broken website prevented me from booking the night before and was given a run around about how they can't credit me because it wasn't their problem, they hire a third party.  Wow again.  Tried the supervisor.  Same story. No point.

So Starwood uses a third party to provide the SPG Flights service, the third party provides terrible service and created a website that is effectively unusable unless you hack the URL to which they are trying to redirect you, they know that there is an issue, and they don't really care how it is inconveniencing their clients.  That is a HUGE minus sign on what has historically been pretty good service.

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