Terrible Customer Service American Airlines

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Feb 8, 2019
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#1
My husband and I purchased a cruise through Celebrity Cruises as well as airline tickets. It was booked through American Airlines on December 13, 2018. That same day I contacted AA to see about an upgrade to our tickets and was told by “Barry” a representative, that we would need 15,000 miles each person as well as a $150.00 fee per person. I agreed to that as I had about 52,000 miles with AA. He placed us on the upgrade list. In the beginning of February I called AA to check the status of our upgrade request. The first representative stated that I “misunderstood” and it was 15,000 miles per person each way, as well as $150.00 per person each way, and as I clearly did not have enough miles (60,000) I would have to be removed from the upgrade list. I asked to speak to a supervisor. Ms. Lee, the supervisor was extremely condescending and insisted that it was my mistake, that as an AA member since 2007 I should have been aware of the upgrade requirements and that I must choose, right now, which trip I wanted to be removed from the upgrade list. By then I was only less than 300 miles shy of the 60,000 needed. I tried to explain to Ms. Lee that I did not misunderstand, that was what I was told, and as proof, I was on the upgrade list since December 13th. That I had no way of putting myself on that list and therefore their representative gave me the information as stated. She insisted that I had to choose right then and there, that I could not wait till I had the needed less that 300 miles and that my only alternative to stay on the list for both legs of the trip was to buy air miles. I told her I would buy 300 miles, but was then told they only sold them in 2000 increments and that there would an added $35.00 fee included, so the 2000 miles cost approximately $98.00. I paid that amount and got the miles. She then advised that I would not be gauranteed an upgrade as there might be “priority” customers that would get the upgrade over me. I then asked to speak to customer service as I felt that I was being held hostage by AA and forced to purchase these added air miles when I might not even get the upgrade. She advised they do not take phone calls and I had to email them. I did. I got a “stock” message back saying that they understood my issue but that they had to be fair to all customers and could not help my in any way. I then emailed the CEO of customer service, which does NOT get to him but was sent to the same customer person that originally emailed me!!! She called me and was more considerate on the phone but the end result was that they would do nothing for me. No refund of the cost of the surcharge, no refund for the cost of the extra miles, which after making a purchase on AA shopping, I had sufficient miles, without the extra miles, no travel voucher, no guarantee of the upgrade, they would not do anything to assist in this situation. She did tell me that they would use my experience in their representative training. I think this is nonsense and that this airline should be avoided at all costs. If I hadn’t paid for the tickets already I would change airlines at this point for the cruise. They were completely lacking in any type of customer service. They were insistent that I made the mistake, even after I pointed out that I could not place myself on the upgrade list and according to them I never had sufficient miles to be placed on it originally.
Thanks for reading this.
BonnieM
 

mmb

Verified Member
Jan 20, 2015
989
1,039
93
#2
Dear @BonnieM - there is really nothing unusual in your narrative. I hope you eventually get what you want.
The reality of the airline business model is:
-CS agents are not very well trained;
-large corporations don’t have incentive to manage customers at this level ( no real profit there,);
-AA offers a service, under their TOC, and you taken it or leave it.
These types of service requests are really complicated and no one will offer you the ‘whole picture’ until you have completed all the steps and jumped through all the hoops and understand it your self. Hence, the continual pull of your money to their pockets.
It helps if one reads these forums extensively and learns about these issues from a third hand perspective.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,428
1,400
113
Maui Hawaii
#3
My husband and I purchased a cruise through Celebrity Cruises as well as airline tickets. It was booked through American Airlines on December 13, 2018. That same day I contacted AA to see about an upgrade to our tickets and was told by “Barry” a representative, that we would need 15,000 miles each person as well as a $150.00 fee per person. I agreed to that as I had about 52,000 miles with AA. He placed us on the upgrade list. In the beginning of February I called AA to check the status of our upgrade request. The first representative stated that I “misunderstood” and it was 15,000 miles per person each way, as well as $150.00 per person each way, and as I clearly did not have enough miles (60,000) I would have to be removed from the upgrade list. I asked to speak to a supervisor. Ms. Lee, the supervisor was extremely condescending and insisted that it was my mistake, that as an AA member since 2007 I should have been aware of the upgrade requirements and that I must choose, right now, which trip I wanted to be removed from the upgrade list. By then I was only less than 300 miles shy of the 60,000 needed. I tried to explain to Ms. Lee that I did not misunderstand, that was what I was told, and as proof, I was on the upgrade list since December 13th. That I had no way of putting myself on that list and therefore their representative gave me the information as stated. She insisted that I had to choose right then and there, that I could not wait till I had the needed less than 300 miles and that my only alternative to stay on the list for both legs of the trip was to buy air miles. I told her I would buy 300 miles, but was then told they only sold them in 2000 increments and that there would an added $35.00 fee included, so the 2000 miles cost approximately $98.00. I paid that amount and got the miles. She then advised that I would not be guaranteed an upgrade as there might be “priority” customers that would get the upgrade over me. I then asked to speak to customer service as I felt that I was being held hostage by AA and forced to purchase these added air miles when I might not even get the upgrade. She advised they do not take phone calls and I had to email them. I did. I got a “stock” message back saying that they understood my issue but that they had to be fair to all customers and could not help me in any way. I then emailed the CEO of customer service, which does NOT get to him but was sent to the same customer person that originally emailed me!!! She called me and was more considerate on the phone but the end result was that they would do nothing for me. No refund of the cost of the surcharge, no refund for the cost of the extra miles, which after making a purchase on AA shopping, I had sufficient miles, without the extra miles, no travel voucher, no guarantee of the upgrade, they would not do anything to assist in this situation. She did tell me that they would use my experience in their representative training. I think this is nonsense and that this airline should be avoided at all costs. If I hadn’t paid for the tickets already I would change airlines at this point for the cruise. They were completely lacking in any type of customer service. They were insistent that I made the mistake, even after I pointed out that I could not place myself on the upgrade list and according to them I never had sufficient miles to be placed on it originally.
Thanks for reading this.
BonnieM
If you look through the forums you will see that AA is #1 in numbers of complaints, with as many as UA, DL and British combined. Customer service and AA do not go in the same sentence or paragraph together. There is a long list of complaints of all types about AA, and they are consistent week to week, month to month.

I hope you are flying to your embarkation port AT LEAST one day before your cruise and preferably two. Otherwise, you may miss the boat. Also, make sure you have travel insurance.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,114
15,592
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#4
This is the way that these point things work (which is FF programs are one on the things we don’t advocate here).

Did you perhaps misunderstand it was 15,000 miles per person each way?

What I would suggest is you use our company contacts and write to AA about the mis- statement by the employee. You can take a chance and ask if they have a way to listen to the recorded call.

The AA website is clear it is 15,000 miles in contiguous US.

https://www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-program/miles/redeem/award-travel/upgrade-with-miles.jsp
 
Likes: ADM
Apr 10, 2017
548
833
93
#5
Neil is right. I've put in for miles/money upgrades for Caribbean flights on AA several times and it's always $75/15K miles per person per leg. These upgrades are never guaranteed and we were never charged for any miles or money until the upgrade was a done deal. There's no definitive time frame for that either. One time we found out 2 weeks ahead of time and another time it wasn't until we were in the gate area waiting to board the flight. We both got alerts on the AA app.

If you wish not to fly AA for this trip it's possible you could get a full refund with a schedule change on their end. I just canceled an outgoing leg on a round trip AA mileage ticket because the first flight got moved from 7:00 AM to 5:15 AM. I could have canceled the entire trip but the return itinerary (both cost and time) was better than what I found elsewhere. My husband and I got back all the miles and fees for the outgoing leg returned to us. I've had my own multiple issues with AA that could have made good forum stories but this time they were quite helpful. Be on the lookout for alternative flights in case you can cancel due to a schedule change.
 
Likes: jsn55
Jul 13, 2016
254
434
63
56
#6
Did you check the AA website for a list of upgrade charges? I know that UA has a form listing the miles and surcharges required per leg. I would have done that prior to calling AA. then, if the agent did give the wrong information, you could have questioned his knowledge.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,935
7,823
113
San Francisco
#8
Did you check the AA website for a list of upgrade charges? I know that UA has a form listing the miles and surcharges required per leg. I would have done that prior to calling AA. then, if the agent did give the wrong information, you could have questioned his knowledge.
This is so true. Today's traveller has to figure everything out herself. I'm sorry you are having to learn this the hard way. The original agent made mistakes: he should have explained how the bid to upgrade worked, and he should have told you he'd process half the trip. He should have told you to come back when you had enough miles to process the second half. Agents are not trained well and aren't motivated much by their airline. You can never take anything they say as the truth. And when the customer is misinformed, it's not the agent who suffers, it's the customer ... every single time. Before getting into any kind of situation like bidding for an upgrade, it's vital that you understand every single detail, and you can refer to those details in writing if you are questioned. I don't fly American, but I know that 15K miles is not going to get you a R/T upgrade; the miles and the fee are per segment.

A far greater concern is which day you're flying to the cruise port. If it's the sail day and you are delayed, what procedures are in place to protect you? If you booked your flights through Celebrity, they should take care of you. But you need to ask just how they will take care of you if you miss the sailing. That's what you need to concentrate on. I sincerely hope that you are flying the day before and that my concern is needless.