American Airlines’ Inconsistent Delay Compensation

Filed Under: American

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.

Bottom line

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?

  1. Another reason why I’ll connect somewhere halfway across the country to fly Southwest rather then take a nonstop for cheaper on other airlines. SW consistently does the best when things go wrong, I’ve made hundreds in compensation vouchers over the past few years when any other airlines would tell you to take a hike. Also they don’t tell people this but if you order an alcoholic beverage on a badly delayed flight they will comp it.

  2. Sorry to bust your bubble… but… unless you are Concierge Key it’s just some random decision on the part of a minimum wage call center worker.

    If you think your service isn’t personalized enough at the counter and at the gate, think about how bad it is in the back office processing.

    ExecPlatinum (which I used to be for years) previously had a dedicated Call Center and “priority” for overflow calls. That’s gone now.

    It’s random, Ben. Absolutely random.

    AA are still claiming the MAX is coming back soon– so they can squeeze a few more shekels out of the business model.

  3. Don’t forget that as a chronic complainer American will score you more negatively on their internal system. This will cause them to offer you less to nothing in the future.

  4. I had an 8 hour delay on a domestic United flight recently and got 50,000 miles as compensation. Other passengers with lesser status got 25,000 miles.

    With AA, I never got more than 10,000 miles as an EXP last year, even with a 5 hour delay in international paid J.

    One of the other reasons I avoid AA.

  5. @Austin. Sorry. But if you are in a secondary airport like providence or Manchester during the winter snow storm WN southwest can put you on the next flight out of Chicago in 4 days. This happens when everything is booked and you have no status.

  6. A few points:

    (1) Airlines in general (perhaps not all — perhaps only Western ones — but certainly a fair number of them) track your voluntary responses to their customer service surveys. That is, American Airlines probably has a few numbers in my customer service file that says how many surveys I have completed, how many times I have written in to praise and how many times I have written in to complain. This gives important background information for the customer service agent to handle your request.

    (2) As you said, keep the note short.

    (3) But, to address the discrepancy you noted above, specify the reasonable compensation you would like that would make you satisfied. CSAs have discretion within ranges (usually). If they can award 500 to 10,000 miles at their discretion and you ask for 5,000 miles — you’ve made their job easy because they can do that. If you don’t tell them what would make you satisfied, then they have to guess.

    My most recent American experience was when they gave me a $500 voucher for re-routing me from LGA-PBI by sending me via Chicago in March. It was a free ticket in the first place (using BA Avios), so I figure I came out ahead.

    However, the small print on the voucher requires you to mail it in a few weeks in advance or to physically go to the nearest airport counter to redeem it.

    I discovered this late at night when I had to travel on a few days notice for a funeral. I got the Gold desk to put a courtesy 24 hold on the price and the reservation and then I rolled it over two more times until 30 minutes before flight departure on the travel day (very early Sunday morning, 23 June) — because who wants to spend $80 going round-trip in a cab to LaGuardia or spend 2+ hours and $5.50 on the MTA just to travel there and back for that activity?

    At JFK, I redeemed the voucher for the one-way flight to Phoenix for about $320 and used the rest of the voucher for 500-mile upgrade certificates and then used the certificates simultaneously to upgrade to First Class. I might have gotten the upgrade automatically because for sure at 6 am the Sunday morning flight is not likely to attract their most loyal customers (judging from the other people wearing pajamas sitting around me in First Class).

    And I had written Customer Service to complain that a voucher that was issued to me for my inconvenience should not further inconvenience me to use it and that I would appreciate a 5,000 mile courtesy deposit into my account because of this — and within 4 hours they agreed. I was impressed.

  7. You’re lucky the airline industry even works. And the average American is extremely spoiled about air travel.

    You’re planes had mechanical issues which are cancelled for your safety. So you dont die. And now you think you’re owed something substantial because your plans were also delayed. Just because you buy a plane ticket doesnt entitle you to any special treatment. Read the terms and conditions of tickets thoroughly. No one ever does. That’s a problem when you dont read the “contract” and sign it.

    The amount of entitlement and complaining for my fellow Americans these days is disgusting. Work hard, take responsibility, and roll with the punches.

  8. In Europe,Air France is the best for Delay Compensation 3 hours delay and you are entitled up to 600 Euros per passenger) and you don’t need to fight!
    From my experience all the other airlines send you an email like AA rejecting your claim or compensating you peanuts that is why European passengers use compananies such as Air Indemnité ou Air Help which will go through all the claim procedures for you ;Those companies keep a percentage of what you obtain ,of course but it s usually the only way Airlines will compensate you.

  9. I would echo Austin’s observation. I’m A-List Preferred with WN and have had that status for about 6 consecutive years (#7 coming up). I have also had the Companion Pass for the same period of time. Other than the first time I got the pass, the others have been earned by card spend but mostly butt in seat miles/points/fares. In an average year I will fly WN about 72 times logging between 35K-40K miles domestically.

    Over the course of that time, I have taken my fair share of mechanical and “poached plane” delays. This past April, my wife and I took a 5 hour delay at BWI when Ops poached our plane to service a flight to San Juan whose original aircraft had been removed from service for mechanical reasons. At check-in of the delayed flight, all passengers where given $100 LUV vouchers (including my wife who was flying free on the C-Pass), and offered $10 meal vouchers if the wanted them. WN’s general policy is that they will proactively issue LUV vouchers to passengers when flights are delayed 2 hours or more due to mechanical and/or ops reasons. The amount varies with the length of the delay, but seems to top out at $100.

    Anyway, I personally thought the compensation amount to be inadequate given the length of the delay (it stretched to 5.5 hours). When I got home, I sent an email to WN customer service politely stating that while I fully understood why Ops had made the decision to poach the plane for the San Juan flight and did not question their right to do so, I found the $100 compensation inadequate given the length of the delay and resulting inconvenience. About 48 hours later, I received a phone call from a Rapid Rewards customer service supervisor who said they had reviewed my email, concurred, and proceeded to send me AND my wife an additional $150 each in LUV vouchers.

    On another occasion which also involved a poached plane delay, I emailed customer service about my frustration over the lack of transparency and communication that the gate personnel showed in explaining the situation to the delayed passengers, and the lack of pro-active offers of compensation. The email response from WN was basically a “non-response”, so I pushed back and said as much in my response. Again, I received a phone call from a RR customer service supervisor who apologized for both how the matter was handled at the gate, and what she agreed was a “non-response” to my initial email. She also awarded me $150 in voucher compensation for both my inconvenience and, as she stated in our call WN’s “fumble” in this matter.

    No airline is perfect, but I do think WN tries harder than most – if not all – in making amends.

  10. Where I work (ground-based travel), customer satisfaction scores are based wholly on the post-trip surveys. Although I do get a monthly tally of written or phoned-in complaints by type for the particular service I manage, it’s not measured as part of our success or failure. This is mainly because the survey is 100% consistent in terms of questions asked. A passenger could write a laundry list of complaints to customer relations and the agent taking the complaint could misfile it, and most importantly for ME, the ‘type of employee’ mentioned in the complaint is frequently incorrect. Because of the human element involved, an agent could also intentionally misfile complaints to make one service look better or worse for personal reasons.

    I try to take the time one day a week to reach out to customers where the complaint warrants it – or if I am trying to identify the employee involved. It’s enormously time consuming but always thrills the person I call that anyone noticed. I wish airlines would do more of that kind of thing.

  11. With LH:s ongoing catering problems on shorthaul some people get €100 in compensation and som 0. Both on the same flights in Business class.

  12. After American Airlines canceling our flight to Philadelphia (within 30 minutes of boarding) where we were going to catch a flight to Greece, we spent the next full day searching for a way to get to Greece on another airline . We lost our prepaid tour of Athens, our hotel costs and we barely made our cruise ship. We lost $1200 and of course started our vacation so stressed and exhausted! Our compensation was from American was 10,000 points total for my husband and me. That’s a loss of over a thousand dollars. My next 3 flights are on Delta, United and Alaska. Customer service at American Airlines is pathetic. The only way to show displeasure is to avoid their flights. I may experience the same issues but I’m willing to find out.

  13. The surveys after flights are important indicator of customer satisfaction. So yes, do fill them in – highlighting the goods and the bads (if any of each encountered). I keep it to the point and make suggestions for improvements.
    Recently had a 2.5 hr delay due to the mechanical issue where gate attendant promised some food/drinks in case delay is 2 hrs or longer, but those never showed up despite the fact it happened in DFW – the AA main hub. Filed the complaint online and received a compensation in miles. Was pleasantly surprise of the effectiveness of AA customer service with that.
    I do believe that any company should look into their customer’s feedback with upmost attention and make changes to prevent similar situation from repeating. Airlines sell the service of flying you from point A to point B within certain schedule – so when multi-hour delays happen for any reason not related to weather, it is up to airline to make good with its passengers and take care of them. Otherwise it is a bad business model – not sustainable and not customer-friendly.

  14. Sorry Ben. Your headline is click bait. It’s not that airlines don’t care. It’s quite literally AA doesn’t care. I haven’t flown Southwest in a while, but United has improved. AA? Seems they must have a manual called “How to increase passenger misery 101”. Last trip returning from LV connecting through PHL Saturday’s July 4th weekend. Yeah there were storms, but AA was utter chaos. Our flight was cancelled 1 minute before official takeoff time even though we had a plane — just no pilots apparently, and that was after literally 10 minutes before saying we had pilots landing in 10 minutes. $0 compensation offered, couldn’t get luggage, wore same clothes next day, wife and I had to book separate connecting flights, she got home okay, I missed connection by 5 minutes after a 1.5 hour delay due to A/C not working, had to fly standby to get home after 2 more flights. Oh, and this was all on a First Class flight. Oh, and the kicker? 2 bags made it home Sunday with all wet clothes, last bag came next day 7:30 pm with no notice (knock on door) still showing in my connecting city. Yeah — it’s just AA that doesn’t care. Next flight back to Chicago for work? Southwest. Also, premium AA CC. All the trip delay/cancellation insurance being canceled in September. Assume AA delays are costing too much. Looks like that card is getting canceled.

  15. Our recent experience with American was a cancelled direct flight home and subsequent rerouting through an airport with a history of weather delays. Before our flight could depart, excess fuel had to be deplaned after everyone was on board. That delay threatened numerous passengers with connecting flights. We were instructed to run through the terminal in hopes of catching our connecting flight. Fortunately, it too was delayed and had only begun pre-boarding. After everyone was seated, the pilot left the gate and joined a dozen other American flights siting on the tarmac waiting for a passing storm.
    My feedback to Customer Service resulted in a casual dismissal about mother nature’s predictability. We thanked the airlines by cancelling our American Airlines Credit Account and promising never again to join them for a flight.

  16. I would agree American Airlines is a night mare to be avoided based on customer reviews.
    I must say that in my flying experience with Jet Blue, they have provided compensation for further ticket purchase when my flight was delayed beyond the regulated limit. 100.00. Credit. To me, this is a step toward customer good will.

  17. I have had two bad experiences on American recently. Both involved delayed or canceled flights. My understanding is that American has been negotiating with the mechanics union for quite a while. The mechanics are pulling planes out of service for no reason or delaying their departure. I had a delay on a flight to Philadelphia which meant I would probably miss my connecting flight. Since I have arthritis in my knees and cannot run to meet my connection I requested transportation before leaving the Harrisburg. But there was none there. Finally someone took me to the connecting gate. While trying to get out of the wheelchair with my carry-on bag one of American’s employees very rudely told me to get moving since the plane was ready to leave. I send an email to American about these issues. Customer Relations replied at least two weeks later apologizing and stated twice that no violations had been incurred since I eventually got a wheelchair! I did not ask for compensation but did receive 5000 miles. In the meantime I flew to Chicago on American. My Monday afternoon flight was cancelled and I could not get another flight until Tuesday afternoon. That flight was delayed for over 2 hours! AA really has some problems which they need to resolve quickly! I sent them another email and will continue to do so every time I have an issue.

  18. AA does little to nothing to deal with resolving customer problems. I am not a fan.

    I usually fill out the after flight surveys; always after a flight with problems.

    The only airline that has ever contacted me back with some compensation was Jetblue.

  19. The only time I use AA Customer Service is if the delay, cancellation or issue impacts me in a significant way costing me (significant) time, missed business appointments, and/or money. In other words, I try not to “go to the well” too often and usually, I’m compensated adequately for my trouble. Last year, a mechanical delay resulted in missing a connecting flight and that put me back 24 hours and I received 25,000 miles, a hotel room for the night and a couple of food vouchers. I don’t really know if this is an average settlement or a great one or a bad one. I was ok with it.

  20. before booking my flight to Denver on Frontier this past week, I informed them of my mobility assistance service dogs size and measurements and advised them I wanted to upgrade, therefore pay extra, for the largest legroom area due to my service dog’s size since it was very.important he not intrude into another passenger’s personal space. I was assured by CSR/ticket agent our accommodations would be taken care of and we would have no problems during boarding or on our flight. We were to enjoy early boarding in the first 3 rows with a window seat on a 2hr flight. This would suit my service dog perfectly and be short enough to not hamper my disability. A bus ride would have taken 3 days and I’m not physically able to endure that. 15 minutes prior to boarding, the agent at Frontier’s gate called me over the loudspeaker, in front of all my fellow travelers and told me my service dog and I would not be able to board the flight bcuz it was sold out. I bought my ticket SEVERAL weeks before, when it was only half full. I was upset, but managed to keep my cool and explained the dilemma. I told the agent I had informed the CSR prior to purchasing my ticket about my SD size and that I had all his and my legal records showing he was in ADA compliance and that I was truly and legally disabled. I had an email from Frontier stating I did NOT have to purchase a for him and NOWHERE in Frontier’s policy did it state that. I was told I would have to do this by the agent, even though she had already told me the flight was sold out. Repeatedly, I was lied to by Frontier, from the reservations agent, to the special assistance handlers they email, to the flight crew, to the gate agent. Eventually, we were allowed to board and placed on the very last row, which by the way, was NOT SOLD OUT!!!! Me and my dog were the ONLY people on this row 27abc and on row 27def that row only had 1 male passenger. For all of my troubles, Frontier refunded me $36 which was the upgraded I paid for to have seating and enjoy extra legroom for my service dog. THAT IS WHAT I CALL TERRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!! My flight home was on American Airlines. I scheduled my flight only 2 days b4 flying out. I was seated in bulkhead by the window and also given an empty.middle seat my.window seat and yes that was the only empty seat on the plane, and the cost of my ticket was 33% cheaper than my Frontier ticket. Also, beverages and snacks were included in the price of the ticket, as was a rolling carry on suitcase and a full size back. Thank U American Airlines. Frontier I hope nobody else has to humiliated like I was in front of 200 of their peers because a gate attendant has not been properly trained. It’s hard enough, when u r disabled to know u r attracting unwanted attention by using a wheelchair or Walker or arm braces, believe me when it’s a service dog that feeling is no different!!!! In fact, it is worse!!! Because we have to constantly be.even more aware of people getting in our way and interfering with our furry medical devices that those inorganic devices simply cannot do.

  21. Dear Ben,
    This absolutely fit into our frustration, helplessness and humiliation at L.A. Airport on 19 June, 2019 for cancellation of flight due to bad weather, ticket: YTLJNF. American Airlines offered flight tickets for 10:30 A.M., 20 June, 2019. AA was expecting confirmation from our end, but we could convey this call was put on hold. The call remained ‘on hold’ mode for over two and half hours. When the call resumed this offer was no more. We were offered for flight at 07:30 P.M., 21 June, 2019.
    We are old and sick Indian travelers, ten and half hours of waiting at LAX could have been managed somehow as per initial offer. Forty three hours of wait as per final offer was beyond our endurance limit. AA states that in cancellation of flight for bad weather they arrange tickets for stranded passengers as quickly as possible. This declaration is absolutely lie for AA. What justification AA have about cancellation of first offer for flight adjustment, over two and half hours of keeping the call on hold for snatching off the previous offer are not known. Honorable CEO Mr Doug Parker and other stalwarts pass on my query to AA Customer Care. AA Customer care gets back with rhetorical response that flight cancellation for bad weather doesn’t have any liability upon AA [or for that matter any airline]. This inherent condition is very well known to me; I don’t owe any favor/ compensation from AA, but as a customer do owe a factual explanation which have debarred us to avail the first offer. AA has given two eVouchers of $100 each, which I respectfully bag not to take. These vouchers are of no use as we’ll be soon leaving for India. I wish AA intimate cancellation of these vouchers as I don’t want to pass it over to my acquaintances.
    I have sent you an email for your kind perusal. I also have apprised this issue to CEO, One World and CEO BBB. This issue has also been passed over to other dignitaries. If all prefer silence to this issue and score of other issues as being highlighted in news, then AA has to see more downfalls in year to come. Weak regulatory support breeds such anarchy.

  22. Re: AA.
    Why is it that my friends who are Platinum (or Pro) …. when they travel they get an email asking to switch to a later flight and $500+ dollars?
    I am ExPlat and never am given that option. I could make money on my weekly flights but I never get that option….

  23. Everyone, on compensation, Delta cancelled my night flight from NY to Canada and rebooked me to the next day, ZERO compensation, ZERO food, nor accommodation, nothing. Any idea is that normal?

  24. That’s why after 20+ years of being EP (2M miler) I’m jumping ship. My next 3 trips have been booked on Delta already, including one to Europe. I’ve had it with AA. They simply don’t care. After my last cancelled flight, being rerouted and not arriving to my business meeting in San Diego, they offered me 10,000 miles and an apology. You can all imagine where I told them to shove their miles, after which I received a complimentary SWU. I’m going to try and use it before the end of the year on an upcoming business trip to Japan, and then it’s good riddance AA.

  25. Europe is so much better. If you’re flying long haul you get compensation of £510 per person in economy. Also known as how my sister paid for two more holidays after she had two delays of more than 4 hours.

  26. @Lucky I flew AA transcon biz JFK/LAX a few months ago and my leg rest was slightly broken (bolts weren’t tight it was just a bit loose) and I sent a pic to AA over twitter; was credited 15k miles an hour later… Got totally downgraded and plane swapped from lie flat to recliner a month later, no compensation whatsoever, sent over 3 messages

  27. @Eightbitkirk… Actually if someone ever looked at the contracts with the airlines we might be looking at some antitrust issues since all contracts are the same and there is always an issue with price-fixing.
    That being said if you pay for a service you should expect that service be given at a standard or above level of quality. It’s pretty sad that Congress had to jump in the airlines so they wouldn’t hold their passengers in a tin bucket for 6 hours straight.
    On the question brought up in the article, it seems to me is that compensation for poor service varies depending on who you get and not really how bad they screwed you.

  28. Please give American a break. If they adequately compensated all of the damage that was caused by the inept and greedy policies of their senior management, they would have to declare bankruptcy.

  29. @Mojo. The few survey forms the FA’s hand out inflight are far from random. Those passengers who have been friendly and agreeable are far more likely to receive one than someone who has been a complainer or otherwise not seeming to have had a good inflight experience.

  30. @hilary matthew, I have 2 words for you: travel insurance. You should look into it. If you spend that much on your vacation and don’t know that airlines are not going to reimburse your prepaid expenses, then there’s no one to blame except yourself. Sorry. Not sorry. Get a clue.

  31. American Airlines. Used to work and overhaul base in Kansas City. You would be appalled at the lack of dedication and quality of their workers.

  32. I have been flying on American Airlines for years, which was once my Preferred Airline and I have close to 2 Million miles flown on them and have NEVER received a Thank You, an upgrade or any incentive over all these years. I stopped flying on American. and since I travel extensively overseas each year, I have given my business to Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Cathy Pacific and a few others, who truly appreciate my loyalty in flying with them.

  33. Just so people know…the CSA’s at the airport really have no control over anything. They cannot give anything that is not approved through a out of state center. They are not allowed to make any decisions for themselves. Even the managers have limited powers. No meal vouchers unless you are staying overnight. Nothing at all if it is a control out of AA control, like weather or air traffic. Plus so many people just come up screaming at the agents it makes you go on the defense before even knowing what the problem is. If people would approach agents without being so rude like cursing, throwing things, demanding things, calling agents names etc…they may acutally want to help you.

  34. WOW. Reading from all the over privilege people remarks, I’m amazed. people don’t take to account all the rules and regulations all airlines must go through. Keep in mind the things that are out of there control like: weather, airport conditions, and air traffic. Yes air traffic. as a former airline employee. They truly do what they can in there high stressed work environment. so next time something like this happens smile and be patient.

  35. I share my time between RI, where I work, and SC where my family and I built a home in anticipation of my upcoming retirement. Circumstances forced us to relocate early, so I fly back and forth monthly to spend time with them. I’ve been doing this for about a year now and have had mostly positive airline experiences except for recently with American.

    Flying out of Myrtle Beach they were looking for volunteers to get bumped due to potential overbooking. Instead of a connecting flight to RI out of Philly they were going to route me to Charlotte. I would have gotten to my final destination a half hour earlier and gotten a $400 travel voucher. Sign me up! But it turned out that with me on the Philly flight, the plane was 100% filled and they didn’t need to bump me.

    Instead I flew to Philly, they canceled my RI flight for lack of a crew and left us all stranded. I stood in line for 2 hours to talk to a customer service agent. In the meantime I grabbed the earliest flight available through their app which got me into Boston, not RI…a full one hour Uber ride away. And it was a 10 hour wait for that flight.

    I was told my expenses would be reimbursed. But there were no available hotels nearby through their discount voucher program. I slept on the floor and in chairs at the airport, only to find out the next morning from another passenger that they had set up cots in another terminal! That would have been a handy little tidbit.

    After this debacle I submitted a complaint and requested compensation. They fought me on the Uber payment saying they had flown me to my original destination airport which the clearly hadn’t. In the end I got a $175 travel voucher for my trouble, which was a mere $25 more than the ticket price and a second $80 voucher to cover the cost of the Uber.

    So if I had voluntarily been “inconvenienced” by flying to Charlotte, getting into RI 30 mins sooner than my original flight, I would have gotten a $400 voucher. But after being screwed over and delayed over 10 hours, they scarcely covered my costs!

  36. For some reason, I get a better response when I e-mail American customer service as opposed to Aadvantage customer service…

  37. I recently had a terrible experience with United on a flight from Santiago, Chile to Seattle via Houston. My original flight was cancelled, the communication at the airport on next steps was incomplete and confusing, we were put up in a hotel where strangers were being asked to shared hotel rooms, the replacement flight the next night was diverted to Costa Rica due to a medical emergency, and getting my skis back from the airline was a complete fiasco.

    I had called the airline’s premier desk at every step where I was confused, and as soon as I was back in Seattle, I tweeted at United as well as the VP of Customer Service. When I had to go back to the airport to pick up my skis, I showed a customer service manager a completely inappropriate text sent by the baggage delivery company.

    My compensation for all of this: a $500 travel voucher offered by the customer service manager at the airport, and a refund of the miles used for my trip from Santiago to Seattle, plus an additional $1,000 travel voucher after I spoke with someone in the office of the VP of Customer service. United fumbled at so many points during this trip, but at least they listened to me and made a serious effort to make things right!

    As one very sympathetic premier desk agent told me, “It pays to be a squeaky wheel.”

  38. “Delta cancelled my night flight from NY to Canada and rebooked me to the next day, ZERO compensation, ZERO food, nor accommodation, nothing.”
    So Delta is no better than American Airlines then.
    In terms of Customer Service i guess Southwest is the best American Carrier.

  39. So, here’s the thing… AA is kinda like your local cable company. They understand that at this point, the vast majority of customers are there because they have no other choice. There is little point in giving compensation to an elite customer who lives in a hub city. Happy or not, this customer will fly the airline anyway.

    The only possible way you could make AA change its practices is to stop flying them. If everyone who complained did this, their revenue would collapse and execs would change their strategy.

  40. I recently had an AA flight, my first in over a year (LT GLD though), canceled, leading me to need to commute to a different airport 200 miles away the next day. Once there, three DFW flights were leaving within a few minutes of each other due to various delays. Mine was later, but already delayed enough to miss my connection, so I got on one of the three. Of course, I picked the wrong one that went mechanical in the middle of boarding (I believe another of the three did as well but eventually left). Eventually, I got a different routing that put me 50 miles from my original destination but at least without another day’s delay (just 30 hours late).

    To their credit, AA’s employees were all very kind and sympathetic to me, doing whatever they could to help. I emailed CS, not asking for anything, but laying out the series of events, one caused by weather (at least that’s what they claimed), but others clearly not. The response was actually kind and understanding, although zero compensation. Oh well, I have no plans to fly them again unless I literally am stuck with zero other options.

  41. To Mourachian: It’s simple, if they have to IVDB (involuntary deny boarding) someone, they’ll pay CASH to the person. So offering vouchers is cheaper, even if the amount seems high. Alternatively, they owe you next to nothing for screwing you. And on top of that, I bet they are the only ones that serve your RI destination, so they know you won’t do anything but complain while still buying tickets. The only way to win is to work out a better way on a different airline. Anymore, I choose to fly Delta and rent a car and drive 50-100 miles rather than fly AA to a destination only they serve. And my recent attempt to give AA another try posted above confirms my decision is right.

  42. I will never never travel by American airlines nor recommend any one to travel in this most irresponsible air carrier. I had a very recent bad experience of them stealing my money and did not fly me to my destination giving me a run around. Shameless executives of this airlines are paid to be part of the longtime running racket.

  43. Last year I had a NRT-DFW cancellation in March and had to stay another 24 hours in Japan. Fast forward to July I had a NRT-ORD flight “delayed” 15 hours (I showed up to the airport and they told us it was cancelled, but when I asked AA about compensation it was called delayed)

    Anyway in both circumstances I was forced to stay an extra day, missed a day of work, just overall am annoying situation. My compensation from AA 10k miles the first time and 10k miles the second time. Absolutely ridiculous especially since it happened twice in two months.

    A few years back in 2016 I had a UA flight from ORD-NRT that was going to be delayed 6 hours, I was lucky to be able to get on an ANA flight instead (major win). In that circumstance my bag ended up getting lost for a day. UA’s initial offer for compensation for the delay and the lost bag. A $500 voucher. I was very happy with that and instantly took it because it was more than fair.

    So now if I’m actually paying for a flight and not using miles I won’t even consider AA regardless of price. Treat your customers like trash and pretty soon you won’t have anything. AA is garbage and it’s sad because 10 years ago I felt they were much better than United and possibly Delta

  44. I’m still waiting for a reply from American Airlines (filed July 9th) in regard to a 1:57 AM text alerting me that my SFO/AVL flight the next day at 10:49 was cancelled. It took me till 5 AM to get rebooked and not for that next day….I had to wait nearly 24 hrs. for a flight on a 1st class PAID in real money ticket. Considering all the practice they’ve had dealing with cancelled flights you’d think they would be better equiped to handle them. Frankly, I’m totally disgusted by their treatment…and frankly, I don’t want their stinking airline miles which are nearly impossible to use because I fly in and out of AVL. NO, I don’t want to book a red eye or 4 connections which is just about all that is offered now that I have no status. Sadly, my options are very limited at this airport. But I will think twice before spending my hard earned $$ on American flights….though I have found their commuter service to be much better and MUCH better agents and flight attendants.

  45. Thanks to Ben we get info on how AA compensation works. One data point from me: Domestic flight delayed 12+ hours due to crew overtime issue. AA offered 15K bonus miles as “compensation”.

  46. You might have higher status, but your Helix rankings are probably different. This can result in regular customers getting more comp than some elite members — they spend more (but might not meet the other criteria for elite status).

  47. I got ZERO miles from American after a 3-hour delay caused by mechanic issues. The customer service felt sorry for my uncomfortable trip “because of my pregnancy”. I am male!

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