It’s not often I complain to airlines nowadays. I maybe send in a note an average of once per year, or so. With that in mind, I figured it would be interesting to share what I was offered as compensation for my recent delay.
What happened on my flight
I was flying from Miami to Quito on American, and my flight was delayed by four hours. My flight was supposed to land at 10:30PM, but instead landed at 2:30AM. This was due to a mechanical, and then when the plane couldn’t be fixed it took them quite a while to find a new one.
The next morning we were being picked up at 8AM, so I went from getting a full night of sleep to only getting under four hours of sleep (it was 3:30AM by the time we got to the hotel).
On top of that:
- This was my first flight on the 737 MAX, which is rather unpleasant
- The flight attendants were downright lazy
- The ground crew communicated horribly during the delay; for example, they promised they’d bring refreshments into the gate area, but didn’t (why announce it if you’re not going to do it?)
How I complained
In the past I’ve sometimes had customer relations proactively reach out regarding negative survey results, though they didn’t in this case. So I just submitted a complaint through American’s online customer relations form.
When writing a complaint letter I think it’s important to stick to one primary point and keep it short. Some people love writing five page letters, but:
a) The person at customer relations has no interest in reading five pages
b) These types of complaints almost always lack focus, so they lose out on the core of the message
So stick to one point and write about it. In this case I made the primary focus the four hour delay, and I also (probably unnecessarily) threw in how poorly the delay was handled. I didn’t mention that the 737 MAX is a bad plane, that the food wasn’t great, etc. That takes away from it, in my opinion.
The response I received
I usually find that American emails back Executive Platinum members within a day or so of a complaint. In this case I didn’t hear for three days, and then I got a call from American Airlines.
The lady was friendly and sincere, she apologized for the delay and the bad service. I mean, what more can she really say?
She proactively offered me 20,000 AAdvantage miles. She noted I had a companion on the reservation (Ford is also Executive Platinum) and offered him 20,000 miles as well. The miles posted to our accounts immediately.
Like I said, it’s not often I write complaint notes to airlines, because I tend to think most things aren’t a huge deal. However, in this case we were being picked up for Mashpi Lodge at 8AM, so while we were supposed to get a full night of sleep, we ended up only getting a few hours of sleep due to a mechanical delay on American’s part.
We paid 20,000 British Airways Avios in each direction for these tickets (transferred from Amex with a 40% bonus, so we really paid about 15,000 Amex points per person), so getting 20,000 American miles as compensation seemed pretty good to me.
Obviously when deciding on this compensation it’s based on your status, the type of flight you’re taking, and the type of ticket you booked (class of service definitely matters, but I’m not sure if they differentiate between paid tickets and award tickets).