American Airlines Cancels Flight Sunday After Thanksgiving

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Dec 5, 2018
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#1
On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I was supposed to fly from Atlanta to Miami on flight AA2477 at 12:42PM, but instead had the worst traveling experience not just with American Airlines but with any airline in all my years of flying. After an eight-minute delay the boarding process began but only to stop and be told that there's a maintenance issue and that the maintenance workers were on their way to resolve it. One hour passes without any updates or further explanations until suddenly we are told that the airplane is being taken out of service and we would no longer be flying on that plane. The gate agent then tells everyone to get in line to receive a card. All that this ‘card’ says is to call customer service. What is the point in standing in line for this card when basically all the card tells you to do is call customer service?

I was traveling with my 5-month-old baby and his mother. That flight they canceled had probably twelve children under the age of two on the flight. Weather was fine and American Airlines even said the cancellation was due to maintenance issues

Once I was able to get a hold of a customer service representative, I was told that all remaining flights to Miami were sold out for the day. Here are the options the representative told me were my only options:

1. Take the 7:45AM flight the next day.
*That means I would need a family member to drive another two hours to pick us up to get us and then disrupt their schedule for that day and the following morning. In addition, we would each have to take a half day off from work all because American Airlines said to fly the next day.

2. We could fly to Charlotte to catch a connection and then fly to Miami, but we wouldn't arrive in Miami until late at night. Which later didn't even become an option.
* I'm not putting my 5-month-old through two back to back flights.

3. There was ONE seat available on a 4PM flight and either myself or my baby and his mother could take it and I fly the next day.
* Yeah, great solution to split up families.

4. We could take a flight to Miami that arrived around 2AM.
*I didn't have enough food for the baby nor would ever keep him out that late.

I was very clear with the American Airlines representative that I had a 5-month-old baby and we now only have enough food for him for two bottles. We just fed him during the original one-hour delay thinking we were going to get on that flight. I asked her very nicely and directly if there were ANY other options to get the three of us back home tonight because we can't do multiple connections or just "find" more food for the baby.

I ended up having to buy a flight with Delta for over $700 to go to Ft. Lauderdale that evening. Due to all the delays and zero assistance from American Airlines, when we boarded the Delta flight, we had to give our baby his last bottle so that he could sleep on the flight. If that flight was delayed, diverted or had any other issues I would have nothing to feed my child and that was a very stressful and scary situation to be in as a new parent.

Once we landed in Ft. Lauderdale, I found out from the American Airlines baggage desk that our bag that we checked in Atlanta didn't even get transferred to the Delta flight because they didn't notify Delta on how to get the bags.

Now here's the interesting part of the trip which Really convinced me to post this: As I was standing in line trying to sort out my baggage problem there was another couple who were having the exact same problem that I was and happened to be on my original American Airlines flight. The couple told me that American Airlines transferred their tickets to Delta free of charge...

Why didn't the American Airlines representative inform me about using another airline when I Specifically asked if there were ANY OTHER flights that she could get the three of us on Sunday??? Not only is what she did completely wrong, but she knew how concerned I was about getting my baby home and how limited in food I had for him. I'm very disappointed because I specifically chose to fly American Airlines not just for this flight but for 90% of my travels. I've always defended American Airlines when other friends, family or colleagues have had a bad experience. I understand that the Sunday after Thanksgiving is your busiest day of the year but that's also like saying if Amazon crashed for two hours during Cyber Monday it's okay because it's their busiest day of the year. People would be fired all up and down the chain at Amazon if that happened because they have all year to prepare. It's one thing to screw over a single passenger but since becoming a dad I have zero tolerance for when people cross the line that negatively impacts my son. I'm extremely disappointed in American Airlines and now it seems that your airline is not a family friendly airline. If that's the case, I have no other choice but to choose other airlines like Delta and Southwest for my future travels.

Once I was able to get in contact with an assistant to a VP at American Airlines (thanks to an email address provided by this website), the message that was delivered to me was that it was basically my fault. I was told, “Anytime that you’re traveling with your family you should all always be more prepared by bringing enough food and clothes to stay overnight at the airport because cancellations happen.” And “I chose to use public transportation and they can’t guarantee the flights.” “Due to me purchasing a flight with another airline I broke my carrier contract with American Airlines and they have no obligation to help me, particularly since my original American Airlines ticket (although never used) was non-refundable; however, I’ll (American Airlines) will do you (Me) a favor and still refund your ticket but we won’t compensate any other expenses since we (American Airlines) tried to help you by putting you on another flight the next day.”

I had zero power as a customer and American Airlines knew that and used it to their advantage with absolutely no regard for my family.
 

mmb

Verified Member
Jan 20, 2015
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#2
Welcome to air travel in the 21st century.
Weather and maintenance issues happen All. Of. The. Time.
You have to deal with them.
AA is right, you have to plan for these situations.
Now you know.
Thank Goodness you and your family got through this in ok shape.
You were proactive and took care of them. Good for you.
Now, go forward and learn. Life is NOT easy, but it can be very good if you know how to deal.
As for travel, continue to read these forums and Learn.
 
Likes: jsn55
Jan 30, 2018
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#3
And make sure that you have extra of everything you might need (medications, baby food) for an extra day or two.
 
Mar 29, 2016
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#4
American has a policy to accommodate elite frequent flyers, business and first class passengers on other airlines in the event of delay or cancellation. Even with this, there are time thresholds, up to a 5 hour delay, that must be met before rebooking depending on how high the elite level. Economy passengers are not and must wait for the next available American flight.
 
Mar 23, 2015
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#5
When you booked the Delta flight, how did you let American know so that your baggage could be transferred? Sounds like you did this outside of your communication with American, so how would they know? Did you ask the gate agent about putting you on a different airline? They may not have offered it since they likely wouldn't have enough seats for everyone, but they might have made it happen if you'd asked. Was the $700 on TOP of the amount you will receive as a refund or was the difference between what you originally paid and the $700 much smaller? If you continue communicating with them, I'd leave out all the "if this had happened, this would have happened (baby would have no food e.g.). Stick with what DID happen not "could have." "I paid for flight xyz which was cancelled due to maintenance" "we weren't offered accommodations for the night, or an acceptable alternative flight and I was forced to seek alternative arrangements" "I am requesting $X compensation for the difference in my flight costs." Good Luck. I've had similar issues with American and eventually I got what I wanted.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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#6
Here are your rights under the DOT as an Air Passenger:

https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/fly-rights

Didn't AA refund you for the return flight that you didn't take? They should have.

When an airline cancels a flight, they have one of two things they are required to do - book you on their next flight with available seats, or refund your purchase. I am willing to bet the other customer that they booked on Delta has elite status because the airline is under no obligation to put anyone on another airline. AA and Delta also have a love/hate relationship as Delta stopped allowing AA to book their clients on Delta a few years ago because AA was passing 5X as many passengers to Delta as Delta was to AA. They have since gone back to working with each other but AA has to be very selective on the number of passengers that they do this for.

Didn't they offer you a hotel overnight? That is something they should have done because it was a maintenance issue.

Because you did this on your own, you were responsible for getting your luggage from the AA plane to Delta check in when you changed flights. Unless AA initiated the change, they do not do this for you.

I agree with Mel that you should write to AA and ask for compensation for the difference in the flights but remember they don't owe it to you so you need to be very polite when asking for reimbursement.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#7
Since the OP is in Miami they are somewhat captive to AA. OP would you accept goodwill certificates from AA?

One problem is that the OP has already written and did not receive a positive resolution. AA is at fault for the mechanical, but better to have the flight cancelled than to have an accident; this route may be a 737, and given what happened with a person dying on a Southwest flight, I would not want to take a questionable 737.

One has to be proactive and prepared for a delay, especially during peak travel days. FL can have erratic weather. Complaining about the baby running out of formula was not a great tactic. Having enough food for a baby is the responsibility of the parents. Saying that you have zero tolerance for things that negatively affect your son -- well one thing that is within the control of a parent is having extra baby food in case of a delay. This is advice that is given for anyone -- have enough food for infants, food for a diabetic, extra medications, just in case.

It would be wonderful if we did not have to prepare for the "just in case" but that is not realistic in the current travel environment. I wish it was different, but this is the way it is. As someone who needs daily medications I do carry enough just in case I am stranded.

If the OP writes again asking for more all references to the baby and food should be removed.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#8
This was really an awful experience. Your flight was cancelled because the plane was not safe to fly. AA needed to reaccommodate every passenger on that plane. Biz and first people get rebooked first and economy passengers after that. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times in this country. There probably wasn't much that AA could do. While you're certainly not to blame for this situation, here are some tips that would have made your experience more bearable.

When you book a flight, think about the alternatives if that flight doesn't go. Assume that your luggage will catch up with you some day. Be prepared with food, with clothing, with supplies that would see you through a day or two in a hotel. With a very young baby, it's vital that you have much more food and supplies than you think you'll ever need. Travel with a good credit card and know how to book a local airport hotel; don't count on the airline to do this. You cannot expect them to give you any extra consideration because of the baby, you must provide it all. Know what alternatives are available if your flight is a no-op. Occasionally a passenger can "help" an airline agent in a case like this, and that passenger gets rebooked and home at a decent hour while everyone else is still at the airport wondering what to do next. Follow my colleagues' direction and hopefully some compensation will come your way after this awful experience. Make your narrative as concise and brief as possible; stick to the facts ... you want the reader to grasp exactly what happened and want to help you. Complaint department people look at long, convoluted narratives and just "set them aside" for later, so you want yourself understood with one read-through. Good luck and please let us know the outcome.
 
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