Thanksgiving SNAFU

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Nov 30, 2017
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#1
Seeking your opinion on the following. On Thanksgiving morning my family and I had a flight from CLT to HNL via DFW with AA. I'm an elite member of the American Advantage club. We had 4 first class tickets, one paid for in USD, the other 3 paid for in miles at the cost of 135,000 miles per person RT. The award tickets were secured in early August. DFW to HNL is one of the newest planes in the AA fleet (amazing in so many ways especially in upper class). This aircraft/route was specifically chosen over the other less comforting routes to HNL via LAX or PHX.

On the outbound from CLT, 75 minutes prior to the 6am take-off, the flight was delayed 2 hrs to 8am since a FO called in sick. We phoned the Elite reservation desk when we learned about the flight delay knowing we would likely miss our connection to HNL in DFW. We asked to be put on a backup flight, were given a few options and chose the same flight for the next day, a like for like exchange (in case we missed our original flight in DFW). AA had no one in the CLT area "on-call" who could assist immediately upon the FO's sick call. A FO arrived from New York to help and the 6am flight took off at 7:20am instead of 8am (which would give us a chance to make the connection)...

Upon taking off at 7:20am, we realized that we were removed from the DFW to HNL flight altogether "by accident" and when we were put back onto the flight, only 1 seat was available in first class. The 3 first class tickets I had purchased with miles for my family were no longer available because 3 other passengers "upgraded" into them. Upon landing at DFW late but still with time to board the originally booked AA 123 flight to HNL, the gate agents could not assist outside of offering my family seats in economy, with no compensation offering or anything else. We chose not to board the plane and agreed to fly the next day from DFW to HNL in the seats we had originally purchased/reserved.

The questions are simple. In this technological era, how could a SNAFU like this occur? Why were we removed from our originally scheduled flight, then put back onto it but in different seats/classes? Were we supposed to be thankful for being put back on it? Why did the AA123 flight which we booked in August allow the recently upgraded passengers to keep their seats due to a computer glitch and/or human error? I asked the gate agents to ask these lucky passengers to take their economy seats back and allow my family and I to sit together as we checked-in for hours earlier - the lead gate agent advised this couldn't happen until the next morning (the day after Thanksgiving). Why is AA management comfortable with their decision to only award each member of my family a voucher of $400 after the fact? We feel that the compensation for missing our Thanksgiving plans should be greater.
 
Likes: AA Platinum
Sep 19, 2015
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#2
What a mess.

Could the issue be that the travelers could only be confirmed on one flight? And when asking to be moved to the back up flight, the computer dumped the first reservation.

I do not know how the airline reservation system handles such things.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#3
I also rarely fly AA; but last month I had a connection and the outbound flight was seriously delayed as ATC slowed for weather reasons. I kept calling and had to make a choice on connecting flights so as to be confirmed on the connection.
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#4
@Cozykiyo I'm a UA elite. Honestly it sounds like the premium desk moved you instead of "holding" seats the next day for you. I'll be honest. The only time UA has ever reserved back ups for me during a "rush" period was when it was just me and I was a 1K. Whenever I've traveled with my family, the only time they've protected me is when they have had a ton of empty seats not on one of the busiest travel weekends.

I'd say that $400 sounds about right to me
 
Apr 10, 2017
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#5
Johnbaker is right. AA went ahead and cancelled your seats on the original DFW-HNL flight and moved you to the next day's flight. By the time you showed up they had already allowed other people to upgrade into those seats, likely with a combination of miles and money. My husband and I have upgraded AA flights in this fashion and I'm sure you're familiar with the process. The people requesting the upgrade aren't told they have it until fairly soon before the flight. I completely understand not wanting to make that long flight in coach but that was the only option to get you on the original flight at that point.
 

Carol Phillips

Moderator
Staff Member
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Dec 28, 2014
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#6
I concur with @ADM . Once you chose to take the next day's DFW-HNL flight, AA removed you from the manifest for the original day's flight. They do not permit one passenger to hold duplicate reservations.

I suspect they were not clear in informing you that putting you on the next day's flight was NOT a backup reservation; rather it was the NEW reservation.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#7
I totally understand your frustration; my blood runs cold at the thought of flying all that way in coach. But my colleagues are right ... once you accepted the flight the next day, your original seats were up for grabs. They did not do a 'backup res' for you, they changed your itinerary. It was the holiday weekend, extremely busy, very important to get the plane out ASAP, the others upgraded into 'your seats' before you arrived to board, right? AA was not likely to ask them to move back to coach after the United/Dr Dau disaster earlier this year. Did you get a proper refund of your miles used to book up front?

Bottom line, you arrived a day late; 3 of you flew in the back of the plane which I'm sure was a huge disappointment. I have to agree that $400 each sounds about right. This is one of those scenarios that an airline would describe as "AA flew you from Point A to Point B, as agreed"; that's really all they're required to do.

NOTE: I just re-read your post again ... frankly, I'm not sure which day/which class you eventually flew. In these complex stories, it's helpful to just make a list of the facts.
 
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Aug 9, 2017
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#8
It sounds to me that there's a piece missing in this story. Their original flight was delayed so they opted to fly the next day. However, upon seeing that they could make their connection in DFW, they flew as scheduled (though the departure was late). How is this possible if their tickets were changed to the next day? I'm guessing that they changed the flights, then were told they could make their connection. Perhaps at that time AA told them their first class tickets on the DFW-HNL route were lost? Or AA failed to tell them?
 
Nov 30, 2017
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#10
What a mess.

Could the issue be that the travelers could only be confirmed on one flight? And when asking to be moved to the back up flight, the computer dumped the first reservation.

I do not know how the airline reservation system handles such things.
Thx for your reply. I learned that the first representative I spoke to over the phone should have put my family and I on a "backup" flight rather than changing our itinerary, e.g. removing us from DFW to HNL. She should have waited to see if we made it to DFW on time before modifying that leg of the trip.
 
Nov 30, 2017
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#11
@Cozykiyo I'm a UA elite. Honestly it sounds like the premium desk moved you instead of "holding" seats the next day for you. I'll be honest. The only time UA has ever reserved back ups for me during a "rush" period was when it was just me and I was a 1K. Whenever I've traveled with my family, the only time they've protected me is when they have had a ton of empty seats not on one of the busiest travel weekends.

I'd say that $400 sounds about right to me
Thanks for your feedback. In the end we received $400 per passenger in the form of vouchers to use in the future and 40k miles in total, plus the difference in miles back bc the day after Thanksgiving the first class seat was only a 40k miles cost vs the original 67.5k miles per ticket cost (CLT-DFW-HNL). In the end, AA Customer Relations heard me out and did the "right thing" to correct the SNAFU. Next time though, I may think twice about booking a 6am flight with my family with such a tight connection...
 
Likes: jsn55
Nov 30, 2017
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#12
It sounds to me that there's a piece missing in this story. Their original flight was delayed so they opted to fly the next day. However, upon seeing that they could make their connection in DFW, they flew as scheduled (though the departure was late). How is this possible if their tickets were changed to the next day? I'm guessing that they changed the flights, then were told they could make their connection. Perhaps at that time AA told them their first class tickets on the DFW-HNL route were lost? Or AA failed to tell them?
To answer your questions, we only opted to fly the next day when we learned that American cancelled our Thanksgiving route altogether. They realized the error before we landed in DFW but couldn't rectify the situation. Why fly in economy after having paid for business? We waited until the next morning basis the American mistake...