8 hours in the air and went no where!

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Jul 16, 2016
9
3
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Glen Mills
#1
We were offered a $300 voucher each for my wife and I.
Our flight #798 was scheduled to leave at 6:45 PM. We sat on the tarmac for 45 minutes and took off at 7:30 PM. The pilot announced at 11:30 PM that he was turning the plane around to land back in Philadelphia. There was very little information other than pilot announcing it was a navigation issue. We landed in PHL at 3:30 AM and were greeted by AA employees who told us we must get in line in order to receive our voucher for a new flight. They waited for the entire plane to empty and made sure everyone was in line. They then proceeded to call out names for customers to get their vouchers. I have no idea why AA employees were so adamant about standing in line only to call out names and the names were not in alphabetical order. A good hour into the process the employee who was calling names stopped and left the counter and it was now first come, first serve. It was 5:35 AM before I was able to get to the desk to receive my voucher. If the plane was turned around at 11:30 PM, AA had 4 hours to prepare for the flight disembarking so one would think someone might have had the vouchers already printed off.
I received my voucher only to notice the new flight had a 13 hour lay over in Madrid and arriving in Amsterdam on Monday. Everyone was told they could not get their luggage and they were not going to offer hotels. There was a young lady with a small child who was asking about a room and the young gentleman at the counter gave her such a hard time I had to tell him he was totally out of line with his attitude. We had to drive home. We were able to make some phone calls and found a flight with a 3 hour layover in London. Why would AA would not offer vouchers that obviously with a shorter layover would make flights easier on their customers and try to make a bad situation a little more bearable.
I received a call on Saturday afternoon from AA asking if it was OK that they ship my luggage to Amsterdam before my flight. I explained that we were at the airport when he called and would be landing in Amsterdam at 4 PM on Sunday. I was told our luggage would arrive ahead of us and we could collect it at the AA service desk in baggage claim. We did not receive our luggage until 2 days later.
We lost our 1st night stay at our hotel since it was non-refundable, we lost 2 days of our vacation, did not get an offer of a hotel room so we had to drive back home, paid for a direct flight which we did not get, paid for seats with extra leg room which we never received, paid for parking, flew for 8 hours and never went anywhere due to mechanical problems, witnessed AA employees who could have cared less about their customers and went without our luggage for 2 days. I honestly don't believe a $300.00 voucher truly represents what we lost and what we experienced flying on AA!
What is a reasonable refund or flight voucher?
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,236
2,082
113
#2
This sounds like a nightmare! First off, have you written to customer service asking for any compensation for your troubles? If not, please take the time to write a brief, polite and professional email (I believe you are limited to 500 characters so brief is important) to customer service found on AA's website. Using bullet points is effective to easily communicate your situation. We advise keeping emotion out of it as well as statements such as "I will never fly your airline again!" In your email ask for what compensation you are seeking. Be reasonable. Keep a few things in mind.........you will not receive a cash refund (airlines never give cash as compensation), you will not be compensated for lost vacation (or work) time or parking fees. If you originated in the departure city, airlines do not offer hotel accommodations. The items to focus on are the extensively delated departure, delayed luggage and the upgrade you paid for but did not get. When you mention direct flight, do you mean a non-stop flight? If so, add that to the list since many non-stop flights cost more than multi-stop flights.

Once you have done that (and most likely will not receive any offer for additional compensation), write to the execs listed in the Company Contacts link at the top of the forum page. Write to one exec at a time, waiting one week to receive a reply. If you do not receive a reply or the reply is not to your satisfaction, write to the next exec on the list. Do not write to all of them at once. I cannot emphasize this enough: be very polite and professional in your tone. Demanding or aggressive letters do not reap success in our experience. If you would like the volunteers to proof your letter prior to sending it, please feel free to post it here for constructive critiques. Good luck and please let us know your progress!
 
Jul 16, 2016
9
3
3
61
Glen Mills
#3
This sounds like a nightmare! First off, have you written to customer service asking for any compensation for your troubles? If not, please take the time to write a brief, polite and professional email (I believe you are limited to 500 characters so brief is important) to customer service found on AA's website. Using bullet points is effective to easily communicate your situation. We advise keeping emotion out of it as well as statements such as "I will never fly your airline again!" In your email ask for what compensation you are seeking. Be reasonable. Keep a few things in mind.........you will not receive a cash refund (airlines never give cash as compensation), you will not be compensated for lost vacation (or work) time or parking fees. If you originated in the departure city, airlines do not offer hotel accommodations. The items to focus on are the extensively delated departure, delayed luggage and the upgrade you paid for but did not get. When you mention direct flight, do you mean a non-stop flight? If so, add that to the list since many non-stop flights cost more than multi-stop flights.

Once you have done that (and most likely will not receive any offer for additional compensation), write to the execs listed in the Company Contacts link at the top of the forum page. Write to one exec at a time, waiting one week to receive a reply. If you do not receive a reply or the reply is not to your satisfaction, write to the next exec on the list. Do not write to all of them at once. I cannot emphasize this enough: be very polite and professional in your tone. Demanding or aggressive letters do not reap success in our experience. If you would like the volunteers to proof your letter prior to sending it, please feel free to post it here for constructive critiques. Good luck and please let us know your progress!
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,236
2,082
113
#5
Okay, so why don't you take another run at your letter before you send it to the execs. I personally feel it is too long for any exec to have the patience to read through. Maybe try the bullet point approach if that feels natural to you. Here are the email addresses of the AA executives:

http://elliott.org/company-contacts/american-airlines/

If you have any questions, let us know. The forum tends to get more activity in the evenings so if you want other opinions check back here later tonight or tomorrow, I am sure others will post their advice.
 
Last edited:

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,841
7,686
113
San Francisco
#6
A travel nightmare for sure, traveldad, we all cringe to think about your experience. These things do happen, of course, and nobody wants to fly to Europe in a plane that needs service attention. BUT, from your post, I think that American completely let you down after you returned to PHL. I agree with you, they sound completely inept, incompetent and abrasive in some cases. A $300 voucher as compensation for a mechanical problem is almost insulting.

Do you have evidence that your luggage was not in Amsterdam when you arrived to pick it up? It's entirely possible that it was there but they couldn't find it. They should cover the cost of your personal care items and a change of clothing that you had to purchase.

To answer your original question, I would ask for a credit towards half the cost of another flight to Europe, in premium economy. Actually, I'd ask for business class and negotiate down from there; your call of course. Request a validity period long enough to fit in with your future plans. They made your life miserable for several days; had they dealt with you properly you'd probably not even be seeking compensation.

Your letter needs to be concise, organized and polite. The person reading it at AA did not cause your problem. but is in a position to help you. You want your complaint to be understood on the first read-through and routed to the proper department for action. Picture a sallow-faced person working in a window-less room reading complaining emails eight hours a day ... even the plant on his desk is near death and all he has for lunch is a baloney sandwich. You want this person to be your friend, to care about your problem. I hate to say this, but it's a cold fact that nobody cares about the details, they just want to get through their day. Your job is to get your letter read and create some interest in what really was a horrible situation.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,768
15,376
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#7
You can write them back and tell them it's not acceptable. Use our contact list and write to Customer Service first. Give them a week to reply. If they still say the same thing, write to the first executive shown.

Give him a week to reply. If he doesn't up the offer, repeat weekly until you get all the way up the chain.

Let us know how you do.
 
Aug 28, 2015
3,729
2,897
113
New York
#8
We were offered a $300 voucher each for my wife and I.
Our flight #798 was scheduled to leave at 6:45 PM. We sat on the tarmac for 45 minutes and took off at 7:30 PM. The pilot announced at 11:30 PM that he was turning the plane around to land back in Philadelphia. There was very little information other than pilot announcing it was a navigation issue. We landed in PHL at 3:30 AM and were greeted by AA employees who told us we must get in line in order to receive our voucher for a new flight. They waited for the entire plane to empty and made sure everyone was in line. They then proceeded to call out names for customers to get their vouchers. I have no idea why AA employees were so adamant about standing in line only to call out names and the names were not in alphabetical order. A good hour into the process the employee who was calling names stopped and left the counter and it was now first come, first serve. It was 5:35 AM before I was able to get to the desk to receive my voucher. If the plane was turned around at 11:30 PM, AA had 4 hours to prepare for the flight disembarking so one would think someone might have had the vouchers already printed off.
I received my voucher only to notice the new flight had a 13 hour lay over in Madrid and arriving in Amsterdam on Monday. Everyone was told they could not get their luggage and they were not going to offer hotels. There was a young lady with a small child who was asking about a room and the young gentleman at the counter gave her such a hard time I had to tell him he was totally out of line with his attitude. We had to drive home. We were able to make some phone calls and found a flight with a 3 hour layover in London. Why would AA would not offer vouchers that obviously with a shorter layover would make flights easier on their customers and try to make a bad situation a little more bearable.
I received a call on Saturday afternoon from AA asking if it was OK that they ship my luggage to Amsterdam before my flight. I explained that we were at the airport when he called and would be landing in Amsterdam at 4 PM on Sunday. I was told our luggage would arrive ahead of us and we could collect it at the AA service desk in baggage claim. We did not receive our luggage until 2 days later.
We lost our 1st night stay at our hotel since it was non-refundable, we lost 2 days of our vacation, did not get an offer of a hotel room so we had to drive back home, paid for a direct flight which we did not get, paid for seats with extra leg room which we never received, paid for parking, flew for 8 hours and never went anywhere due to mechanical problems, witnessed AA employees who could have cared less about their customers and went without our luggage for 2 days. I honestly don't believe a $300.00 voucher truly represents what we lost and what we experienced flying on AA!
What is a reasonable refund or flight voucher?
I agree with you. $300 is outrageously insufficient. You seem very patient and that will be an asset in securing compensation. 13 hour layover is unacceptable. I can't think of the proper measure of damages but it should be high.
 
Likes: Patina
#9
Airline = American. Not 'your'

You probably are happy the flight turned back rather than went down over the Atlantic. I did not see that in your comments.

The people being called out, were in order:

Concierge Key
AAirpass
Exec platinum
Platinum
Gold

Then first come first serve.

Yes. American now is mere millimeters above Spirit.

Try making a demand under EU261. Using a Amsterdam based firm to make a claim against AA.
 
Sep 1, 2015
1,040
1,763
113
KSNA
#10
@Joe Farrell is correct- there were fewer seats available on other flights/airlines than passengers on your flight. All airlines have a rebooking priority, usually automated in their reservation system.

I'm glad you provided us with detail. But these details in emails to AA will distract from your central goal of better compensation. Simply state you were on AA798 on June 24th, and provide your 13-digit ticket numbers (starts with 001 if you ticketed w/ AA). The 6-character PNR or "confirmation code" is less useful. AA has all the history and timeline of the flight.

FYI the flight communicated a turnback to PHL at 11:01pm. The skies over the North Atlantic are very congested and turning a flight around into the opposing traffic flow takes a lot of choreography. The turn didn't start until 11:27 and took about 15 minutes. Sounds like the pilot didn't announce anything until then. (For whatever this is worth ).

Let us know how this goes.
 
Oct 5, 2015
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#13
First of all you picked a "winner" of a flight.

On-time 27 43%
Late 20 32%
Very Late 4 6%
Excessive 11 17%
Canceled 0 0%
Diverted 0 0%

It's absolutely lousy.

That flight in on a 757.
American Airlines fleet details
Aircraft Number Age
Boeing 757 56 18.1 years
They are getting old ...

Then you picked AA.
Their COC is horrible.
https://www.aa.com/i18n/Tariffs/AA1.html#0095

They are just plain lousy.
 
Sep 1, 2015
1,040
1,763
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KSNA
#15
That flight in on a 757.
American Airlines fleet details
Aircraft Number Age
Boeing 757 56 18.1 years
They are getting old ...
The specific plane was N939UW, ex- USAirways, 21.7 years old. That said, age has very little to do with dispatch reliability. A 20-year old plane that just came out of a "C-Check" is probably less likely to have a maintenance delay than a 5yo plane coming up for a "D". (D-check is a major maintenance, usually every 6 years. The plane is almost totally disassembled and inspected). Realistically I'd expect 939UW to be sold or scrapped in the next few years. D-checks cost around $1 million and it probably makes no sense to do one on a 24yo plane that isn't fuel-efficient. FYI, this was part of Northwest's financial undoing. Their strategy was to keep planes rather than refresh the fleet. They had many 35yo planes in their fleet...when jet fuel prices soared around 2005 it ate their lunch!
 
Likes: Patina
Sep 1, 2015
1,040
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KSNA
#16
In case anyone did not notice . . .

The on time percentages only equal 98%. What happened the other 2%. Lost in Bermuda Triangle? Is there an acceptable percentage for that?
I didn't notice. The total percentage on Flightstats is currently 102%...just roundoff error. Rest assured, no flights went missing.

The FAA does a great job. They handle millions of flights every year, and haven't left one up there yet!
 
Likes: AAGK
Oct 5, 2015
1,102
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#17
Why I don't want to fly on an old airplane.

QUOTE:
Aging extracts an even greater toll in the areas of reliability and availability. Availability is defined as the number of days an aircraft is available for flight operations divided by the total number of days in the operating year. Reliability is usually measured as the percentage of departures that leave within a specified number of minutes of the scheduled departure time and is referred to as the "dispatch reliability".



As the aircraft ages, the increase in unscheduled maintenance associated with scheduled inspections means an increase in maintenance down time - the number of days the aircraft is in for maintenance. Our data suggests that availability drops from the 95% range for aircraft up to 15 to 20 years of age to an average of 70% at age 25 and 55% at age 30. Looking at it another way, it typically takes two older aircraft to have the same availability as one newer one!



The in-service rate of older aircraft parallels the availability rate. We looked at a number of popular business jet and turboprop models. We looked at the number produced in any given year and how many were still listed as "actively in use" after a number of years. Up to age 20, almost 100% of the aircraft produced are in service. At age 25, the average in-service rate is 90% but can be as low as 75% for some makes/models of aircraft. At age 30, the average in-service rate is just under 80% and below 50% for some makes/models. And at age 35, the average rate is just about 50%.

Source: https://www.conklindd.com/t-whentoreplaceanaircraft.aspx
 
Sep 1, 2015
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KSNA
#18
@Flywisely- though the quoted article is great info, it applies to turboprops and business jets. The maintenance philosophy and schedules are usually different than airliners, and so are the regulations. The way they are used and flown over their lifetime is very different too.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Aug 28, 2015
3,729
2,897
113
New York
#20
I look at lateness percentages solely in case I want to cancel a non refundable trip so I know whether the natural course of events will do the job for me.

For this person, old plane, record, airline shouldn't matter. You should be able to rely on it working out and consider all of those logistics, someone else's job. $300 is too low. I would push for much more, but remain open other ways for them to make it up to me, beyond cash.
Everyone hates AA now for good reason so definitely reconsider them going forward.
 
Likes: Neil Maley