American Airlines Compensation For Four Hour Delay?

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

I had filled out a survey that I was emailed regarding this flight, as I usually do, because I think it’s a useful way to send a message to management if there are things you don’t like.

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.

Bottom line

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).

Comments

  1. AA used to be good with compensation. In the last year and a half or so, customer relations for the most part has been poor if not downright rude. And I am EXP and still happens. Glad you had a better experience @Lucky.

  2. They probably also figured out who you are. That is why it took a couple days and then gave you a call. Their executives where deciding what to do to kiss up to you. Not that you want them to treat you special.

  3. 20,000 miles for a four hour delay? Not minimizing the pain it was for you, but I’d take that every time.

    AA has been pretty stingy with compensation so I say you’d to more than most.

  4. That sounds fair. My last delay of three hours because of a mechanical issue I was given 10,000 miles without complaining as an executive platinum. Was on a paid first class fare.

  5. This week, I emailed AA Customer Relations as I had a 2.5 HR tarmac delay in PHL that led to misconnect in MAD for an onward flight with an oneworld partner; the alliance airline rebooked me on an non-partner airline with additional routing. I have no status and travel was an AA award ticket in economy. Delay was described as a technical issue related to passenger count. Customer Relations credited me 15k miles; this equals 50% of the miles used to book the travel and rather generous in my opinion.

  6. I was delayed 90 minutes or so on transcon F (LAX-JFK) a few weeks ago and requested and got 15k miles, also in 3 days. No status. Had used Iberia avios to book originally. Also tried to keep my letter short and focused on the delay, though I did add short bullets on a couple other legitimately subpar parts of the experience.

  7. AA has been all over the place with compensation. I had an 18+ hour delay (first due to weather and then mechanical issues) and I ultimately did not take the flight, opting instead to drive to another airport and get a direct flight. Their “compensation” was to refund the price of the connecting segment ($86) that I skipped out on. On another occasion I had a first class seat that did not recline fully on a 2 hour flight and they gave me 15,000 miles. I wasn’t even expecting anything for the seat issue–I merely wrote in to note it so that they would have a record that seat 2A on a particular aircraft had an issue as I forgot to raise it with the FA in flight. There seems to be no logic or guidelines.

    By the way, I escalated the complaint regarding the 18+ hour delay and got a full refund of the RT fare (all four segments), plus compensation for the car rental to the other airport.

  8. I’m sure this is because of who you are.

    Wife and I booked 2 Anytime business class seats MIA-GIG and the seats were broken (would not go flat) for the first 1/2 of the flight. Also the F/A was rude beyond belief, and my wife never received her breakfast (asked 3 times)

    I asked for 1/2 of the miles back. Got 10K each, which was a joke.

    I have no status on AA but I’m BA Gold (OWE) and majority of my flights are PAID AA first class domestic.

    AA is pathetic these days.

  9. I’d be more interested to see compensation for literally anyone other than Ben on that flight who might have also complained. EXP or otherwise. I’m not so sure this a fair example of how AA treats it’s customers given Ben’s notoriety.

  10. @AdamR: I was on the flight, in coach, and got 30k miles. I didn’t send a complaint though, delays are just part of air travel. No need to whine about every little setback in life.

  11. interesting, I was delayed lax/san by 2 hours and they gave me 5K miles without even asking.
    I did not mind the delay, gave me time to shower and unwind in the lounge after the long hkg/lax flight

  12. I havent flown American in years now. Looks like they have really gone to crap.

    20K is a great offer though for a 4 hour delay!

  13. Yah, pretty naive to think they didn’t know who Lucky is… and that this offer would be publicized to make AA look better.

  14. We had a delay on Delta this summer (SEA-AMS). We (4 of us) were in J on awards; no status. Plane went mechanical and was delayed about 22 hours. DL paid for hotel and breakfast. They also had a luncheon the next day for the entire flight at the airport at what looked like a pretty nice restaurant (we didn’t attend as we went to the Space Needle instead). We also got 12.5K miles plus a check for $100, each.

  15. I had a lengthy mechanical delay with Delta from Atlanta to Europe a while ago. I have no status and was in coach

    They gave me a 600 euro voucher, which was equivalent to the cash comp I would be entitled to had the flight departed Europe It was also valid on klm Air France and virgin

    The thing is I didn’t even ask for compensation. I asked them to cover my hotel costs

  16. When I was ExecPlat I received similar compensation for similar issues. So I don’t think it’s just a special treatment for Ben.

    I tend to give a lot of feedback, both good and bad. When I have a great flight, I’ll send an email and praise the FA’s. My impression is that the CR reps have a standard chart that tells them how many miles to award different “types“ of customers (kettle, ExecPlat, etc) in different specific situations. I also wonder if the “eagle rating” still exists, and I have a hunch it might come into play as well. If so, Ben probably has a pretty high eagle rating, so that actually could have influenced things here.

  17. Just another date point: I was delayed 8 hours for LAX-HNL in April 2017. I am non-elite and flew first class. Compensation was 10,000 AA miles. I sent a complaint to DOT, AA would not do anything extra.

  18. United is far more generous with compensation than American. I expressed displeasure about a gate checking situation as well as some other baggage mishaps earlier this year to a flight attendant and was issued a $400 voucher during the flight (I had not requested compensation of any sort). 1K > EXP.

  19. Delayed 6 hours on a paid first class fare and had to spend the night in a hotel because of AA. I am Executive Platinum for 3 years running and AA told me to pound sand. It’s weird because I have previously been proactively compensated like others in this thread without complaining but this time turned up nothing. I sent them an email with this blogpost cited asking them to reconsider how they treat EPs.

    If they still say no then I will complain to the DOT like someone else mentioned.

    Absolutely ridiculous that there is no SOP for delays like this.

    Can anyone confirm if Delta or United is better than this? I’m that pissed off that I might convert my 150k miles/year to them.

  20. @cargocult have you had any other positive responses with United like this? I complained to AA about a customer service agent who harassed me (literally bitched me out because “you’re asking too many questions” about a flight change) and they gave me a generic email response.

  21. I agree with Debit…

    Must be nice… I’m just a lowly gold member and was delayed 7+ hrs at MIA trying to get to MCO recently. It would have been faster to have rented a car, to get to Ocala (final destination).

    Yeah… no compensation was offered from American on that one.

    AA did provide sandwiches & sodas at about the 7+ hour mark, just before boarding the plane to finally get to Orlando. The food cart was mobbed by the hangry passengers.

    I lost my bus transport (Redcoach) to Ocala from the airport when finally landing after 11pm.

    I complained on Twitter and was NEVER offered some kind of compensation.

  22. I only got 10k from them only after escalating to both CEO and DoT for a rolling 12h delay where I was stuck awake throughout the night at JFK. Their response was slow and useless. Extremely poor customer service.

  23. I had the following delays on my AA flight recently:

    Tarmac delay of 1:30 due to mechanical delay at RSW (our orgin)

    Then we diverted to Columbia, SC from CLT because of storms. Sat on the tarmac for 3:15 without being able to get out.

    Finally landed in CLT but sat there for 1:45 because of gate space.

    So that’s a total of 6:30 hours of sitting in the plane for tarmac delay. AA gave me only 12,500 miles and says that the delay in Columbia was only 2:58 so there was no ramp delay violation.

    I sent a complaint to the DOT. What do you guys think?

  24. Bottom line: You got this because of your social media footprint. AA wants to minimize the face-front damage.

    I’m a CK with AA and they haven’t given me this kind of mileage comp for things that MUCH worse than a simple 4-hour mechanical.

  25. I had a 3hr mechanical delay that required completely deplaning (which is always a joy) and getting a new one. While the staff were fairly helpful, no snacks were provided. As a Platinum, I was proactively offered 5K miles. 20K seems totally unheard of; I have to believe some of this was because of Lucky’s profession.

    On the topic of compensation, Delta once lost my bags on an international trip for 4 days. The local communication wasn’t good, but they were excellent about reimbursing my clothing and incidental costs after the fact and offering a $300 voucher for my trouble.

  26. So, most people agree that AA is the worst of the US carriers and Delta is better amongst the US carriers.

  27. @Lucky, your account is definitely flagged for priority treatment. I had a RDU-LHR flight cancelled due to mx and had to rebook for the following day. AA agents provided hotel vouchers for a hotel with no rooms available – and the desk agent at the hotel told us she had told the agent there was no space available. I wrote CS over the weekend and just got a response today. I did not get a phone call, instead I received a basically canned “sorry for the inconvenience” response saying they are not responsible for out-of-pocket expenses and giving us 15k miles each. I couldn’t believe it. I’m an EXP as well who almost never complains. Have followed up, but just know that your experience is definitely not typical, even for EXPs.

  28. The US needs legislation in place to keep the airlines under control. In Europe, there are very clear laws that apply in situations like this. We had a 4 hour delay on an EasyJet flight from Barcelona to Paris and was awarded $250 per person by the airline, which was more than twice what I’d paid for the tickets.

  29. After reading this yesterday I wrote a complaint to United as on 5 out of 6 flights last week the WiFi wasn’t working and I was beyond frustrated. I really wasn’t expecting anything as I had already filed refund requests for the flights where I was able to purchase WiFi, but did receive a personalized response and a $200 voucher. I am Platinum but I don’t think that matters at all.
    As always thanks for the tips.

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