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When is enough, enough?

Discussion in 'American Airlines' started by Heather Ellis Boyd, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. Heather Ellis Boyd

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    Like so many other travelers, American Airlines stranded us during the storm last week-January 3-5, 2018. Knowing that bad weather was approaching we waited for American to post a travel alert. When we received that notification we immediately called to see if we could leave early to avoid being stranded. We were on Turks and Caicos and the first agent on the phone said that all flights from the island that would get us back to Boston were full. Knowing that you often get different answers we called again, this time getting a flight to Miami later in the day on January 4 and were told that we were on standby for a Boston flight that evening. We also went on line and saw that you could purchase tickets on flights we were told were full. Our flight to Miami had many empty seats. We arrived in Miami around 6 on January 3 to see that American had canceled flights to Boston and New York. We were rebooked on Friday January 5 to go from Miami to D.C. and then to Providence where we would have to take the train to Boston. We flew from Miami to D.C. On the 5th and waited at the gate where the agent continued to say that they were waiting for the flight crew. After the flight was supposed to leave they displayed the cancelled sign and said that the airplane was now going to Jacksonville. We received a phone message saying that we could get a flight back to Miami. After waiting in line for almost two hours we were told that they could get us on a flight to Charlotte and standby the next day to Providence. At this point we were given such conflicting details we didn't know what to do. We asked to be put on another carrier, given meal or hotel vouchers, with a "no" response to all. We walked to Jet Blue and paid for a flight to Boston because we felt that we were told so many conflicting details that we didn't believe American. We are in our late 60's and were worn out and scared. What should we have done differently and shouldn't American have helped in some way?
     
    #1
  2. johnbaker

    johnbaker Moderator
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    @Heather Ellis Boyd it was a weather event that ended up targeting at least one and, for some, two major hubs for the airlines. When major a hubs are hit, the airline's entire system is negative impacted for days. With most airlines flying with high load factors, it takes them days to recover from these since they just don't have the available seats any more.

    It happened to my family once flying out of Miami. I ended up make the choice to rent a car and drive the two days home because it got us back quicker.

    To answer your specific questions... Travel insurance could have help with the unexpected expenses (it did for me) but patience and understanding that their entire system is in trouble is about the only thing you could have done differently. As far as AA, they have no requirement by contract or US law to help you when the root cause of an issue is weather.
     
    #2
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  3. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    I am in NY right outside of JFK
    and the weather was bad here and worse in Boston. This storm broke records. It was impossible to even plow the runways because the wind was terrible and it kept blowing the plowed snow right back. The airports had thousands of canceled flights - if they could have gotten you home they would have.

    If it were me- I would have stayed in Miami at a hotel and relaxed for a day or two until the airports were open rather than flying all over the country on standby. The airports did the best they could with 1-2 feet of snow and record cold.
     
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  4. Christina H

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    All the airline is contracted to do is put someone on a later flight or refund, they are not obligated to pay for hotel.

    Has the OP looked to see if the credit card used to book the flight has any travel insurance benefits?
     
    #4
  5. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    True because this was weather related.

    And you are correct - travel insurance would have helped pay for a hotel if the consumer had it and it’s a weather related delay. These are the little things that should be considered when you book a flight and that little insurance option comes up. When this happens you call the insurance company, they tell you how much per night they will reimburse and you find a hotel.

    Christina had given you great advice- if you didn’t have insurance all your credit card company and see if they had it on the card you used.
     
    #5
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  6. Its Not Me

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    The OP's problem is not the storm - its the fact that AA employees are for the most part contradictory and insufficiently trained. They sit at a computer and they are told by the computer what options the customer may have. This is derived from a complex matrix of status, fare paid and flights flown the last 90.

    My wife was in Philly last week for the storm as it approached - and wanted out. She is Executive Platinum earned actually flying the 100k miles and paying the fares - and was traveling with a couple of other direct reports for meeting at the mothership.

    The other two people had no status. They got stranded in Philly. The same corporate travel department worked all three reservations. She called the Exec Plat desk, got right through, they had her itinerary when they picked up the phone - they gave her options and even got her first class seat back.

    The people working the Exec Plat phone lines tend to be more experienced, better trained and are given more options to handle their customers.

    Its what happens when you are in the top 0.2% of all members of the ffb program.
     
    #6
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
  7. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    That doesn’t just happen with AA- that happens with most airlines as far as them rebooking.

    And those with your wife’s status should be given priority for all the money they spend with the airline.
     
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  8. Its Not Me

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    And with all the airline bashing over Elite benefits - I'll be honest - when I was in private practice - the one client who was 25% of my revenue got the call answered and returned and got my cell phone number. It's basic human nature.

    It's also 'if you don't take care of your customer someone else will."

    And, do you have a favorite restaurant? We have a place we spend $5000 a year in. When the place is full unexpectedly on a Friday night - they find us a table without waiting three hours. Its what you do for good customers. You pay extra attention.

    Plus - I know Chris has a problem with this - he's written alot about elites getting taken care of ahead of regular customers - but then so do travel journalists. He has back door access to some places. Why?

    Nobody wants to deal with the people who fly twice a year and airline hop to save them $5 and then complain about every aspect of the trip. ask my bride - she is happy to get ice water during the day and maybe a cocktail or two coming home after a long week - a comfortable seat and to left alone except when she needs something. Her expectations are that they get her there the same day . . . hopefully.
     
    #8
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  9. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    I am not sure what you are alluding to. Chris is not a fan of reward programs because they make it almost impossible to use the points.

    What do you mean about him having “back door access” and how do you know this?
     
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  10. Its Not Me

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    I have seen him write about having contacts behind the scenes at airline, hotel and cruise companies and occasionally using them to solve consumer problems. Am I wrong? Is it a misunderstanding?

    I can’t just access those same folks and have them return my calls! Don’t even know their numbers.
     
    #10
  11. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    He has the contacts because he does the job he does. And those aren’t going to be given out to the public or these contacts would never speak to him. And Chris also doesn’t contact them frivolously.

    We have company contacts on top of our pages that work fairly well to resolve problems.
     
    #11
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  12. Dwayne Coward

    Dwayne Coward Administrator
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    Folks, please stay on topic.
     
    #12
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  13. jsn55

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    Nobody wants to admit it, but you are absolutely right. When there are issues, the top customers get the attention and get their issues unscrewed promptly and courteously.

    I just had an issue with a 24-hr cancellation on AirFrance and I waited 40 minutes on the phone to get the res cancelled. I have no status with AF or Delta, so I was last on the totem pole. I didn't like it much!

    About all you can do these days is fly in first class and hope the airline takes care of you if there are issues. Kinda sad.
     
    #13
  14. Warren

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    First class can't hold everyone!
     
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  15. Its Not Me

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    Yeah! And too much demand will raise prices since they shrunk the supply!
     
    #15
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  16. Heather Ellis Boyd

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    Thank you to those of you who responded to my post. Yes, we know that American does not have to help us if there are weather issues, but at some point one would hope that we would at least get consistent information so we would know how we might get home. Also, if a flight is cancelled because of a lack of crew that doesn't necessarily fall into the "weather " category. We filed a complaint with American on line but don't even know if it has been received. No email reply and can't reach a person in customer service.
     
    #16
  17. johnbaker

    johnbaker Moderator
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    @Heather Ellis Boyd Use the Company Contacts menu above to escalate your issue to the next exec.

    Having said that, crew issues, including the lack of a crew, happen a lot when weather issues happen. Most often its a cascading failure where they use one crew to cover a delayed crew or they end up calling in all their reserves to cover delayed crews. Be prepared that it is highly unlikely that you will receive anything unless you can prove that the missing crew really had nothing to do with the weather.
     
    #17
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  18. technomage1

    Staff Member Advocate

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    At this point, since regular customer service has failed, escalate using the primary contact at http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/american-airlines/. Write only the primary contact at first, a short polite email. Then wait a week and go to the next executive in line if you do not get a response.

    Do not email them all at once and do not start with the CEO.

    Good luck.
     
    #18

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