Reader Spencer shares with me what seems like a pretty screwed up situation. Basically he was issued a $600 bump voucher from American for involuntarily being denied boarding from a flight, and then they revoked it.
He has shared his back-and-forth emails with American regarding this, and at first I was confused, so let me try to summarize this as succinctly as possible:
- Spencer was scheduled to fly from Philadelphia to Phoenix to Palm Springs on Friday, August 17, 2018
- Upon arrival in Phoenix he was informed that he was being bumped from the flight to Palm Springs (AA5839), along with about 20 other passengers, due to an aircraft swap
- They offered him a $600 voucher to be rebooked on a later flight; when you get bumped you sign for a voucher agreeing to the terms, and he signed
- He was instructed to wait for several hours for a new boarding pass
- Hours later the bumped passengers were informed that they were being rebooked on AA3085; however, FlightAware suggests that they were all accommodated on AA5839, the same flight he was originally schedule to be on, except in the meantime it had been delayed by several hours (even American seems confused by this, since in email correspondence they claim he was rebooked on AA3085, which was later in the evening)
So after the incident Spencer wrote a letter to American to share how bad the experience was (he says he didn’t do it for compensation, but rather to share how poorly they handled the situation). He received a response offering 3,000 miles, which he found insulting, so he wrote back.
At that point customer relations wrote back informing him that his bump voucher had been revoked, but offered him 7,500 miles:
Thank you for contacting us. From what I read, it’s clear that we let you down. Your comments serve as a reminder that we cannot afford to overlook our commitment to consistently provide quality service to our customers. I’m truly sorry we disappointed you.
At the same time, I very much appreciate your honest feedback. The details you provided give us an opportunity to improve, and you have my pledge that we are working hard to make your next overall travel experience with us the best it can be.
Please let me clarify about the $600 voucher. This is part of the DOT as denied boarding when we cannot get our passengers accommodated on a flight. I see the airport issued one but then had to void it since we were able to get you on flight AA3085.
Unfortunately, we are not allowed to let you keep it. We also can’t match this amount as it pertains to a different policy.
Still, in the spirit of goodwill and appreciation for being a loyal AAdvantage member, I’ve issued you an additional 7,500 bonus miles. Please note that this consideration is an exception due to the circumstances you have described and is not a normal practice in regard to flight delays that fall under 12 hours.
Talk about a “screw you” response. So not only did the customer relations employee cancel the voucher, but I love how they also say that offering any miles for a delay is “an exception due to the circumstances,” and “is not a normal practice in regard to flight delays that fall under 12 hours.” It’s nice to see that American thinks a delay of under 12 hours generally isn’t worthy of a gesture of goodwill.
But the bigger issue here is American revoking a voucher, and I’m curious how you guys feel about that. American bumped someone due to an equipment swap, and issued them compensation in exchange for taking a later flight. When Spencer signed for that voucher, he and American entered into an agreement.
Then the flight ended up getting delayed by several hours altogether, and then I guess they found a bigger plane once again. They managed to accommodate everyone on the flight. But that shouldn’t impact the fact that Spencer and American had already reached an agreement regarding him being refused boarding on the original flight
In my opinion American is out of line here, and it seems like we have a customer relations employee who should maybe be working in the lost baggage department instead. And my gosh, “we are not allowed to let you keep it.” Really?
What do you make of this situation? Should Spencer have been allowed to keep the voucher, or was American in the right since those passengers who were delayed but weren’t bumped didn’t receive anything?