I had an interesting experience involving contacting customer relations at American recently, which I figured I’d share. First let me provide a bit of background.
Airlines don’t really care (shocker, I know!)
I get emails constantly from readers who share with me how unsatisfied they are with airline customer relation responses. They have bad flight experiences and get a response that doesn’t address their concerns and offers inadequate compensation.
What some people will do then is email the airline CEO and other executives, and while I personally don’t love that approach, that does usually get you a response from some sort of “executive” customer service department.
There are a few important things to understand in this regard:
- The US unfortunately has very limited regulations protecting consumers; if you miss your flight, an airline can charge you hundreds or thousands of dollars to rebook, while an airline can delay a flight by days, and not owe you a dime in compensation
- There’s little value in sending a super long email to customer relations; stick to the point, because they deal with a lot of emails
- The best you can do is hope that your complaint is added to some sort of a “tally” and that you’re contributing towards feedback at an airline
- Compensation from airlines is rarely reflective of the severity of an incident; that’s to say that you may get 5,000 miles compensation for a two hour delay, while you might get 10,000 miles compensation for a two day delay, and when things go really wrong, don’t expect that you’ll be made whole
Why I’ve started sharing more “feedback”
For years I never sent messages to airline customer relations, or filled out any customer service surveys. However, I’ve decided to change that up. Nowadays I try to always fill out post-flight surveys, and if I do have a very bad experience, I’ll send an email to customer relations.
I don’t do this for compensation, but rather because I’m tired of airline executives talking about how customers are happy, when clearly they’re not.
If I can do my small part to lower an underperforming airline’s net promoter score then I’m all for it.
My recent experience
It’s not often I send emails to customer relations, but following my recent trip to West Virginia with Ford where we were delayed by about 10 hours due to back-to-back mechanicals, I couldn’t help but send an email.
Ford and I sent the same message to American, but out of our respective accounts. I’m an Executive Platinum member, Ford is a Platinum Pro.
My compensation? 8,000 AAdvantage miles…
Ford’s compensation? 10,000 AAdvantage miles (and his was back dated to the date of the incident, rather than when the complaint was submitted)…
You’d assume we’d at least get the same compensation, or that I’d get more since I have higher status, but the opposite was the case here.
I always assumed that compensation was just issued off some chart, with them taking into account status and the severity of the issue, though I guess there is an element of them just throwing darts.
For what it’s worth — in the case of both accounts we had written to customer relations once before this year.
While I generally assume there’s a formula that airlines follow for issuing compensation, I guess it’s not that consistently followed.
I have low expectations of airlines, and in this case those low expectations were met. But I do find the inconsistency here funny.
This is also a good reminder to always fill out those airline surveys when you aren’t happy with your experience, whether it’s about a delayed flight or uncomfortable plane.
If you’ve contacted airline customer relations, what has your experience been like?