Is This Insane Mexico Mileage Run Story Real?

Filed Under: American, Travel

Update: Here’s what the bar involved in the incident has to say about what happened (so far).

Well this has to be one of the most eventful mileage runs I’ve ever heard of…

The Premise Of This Mileage Run

Twitter user Andrew Kimmel shares his experience doing a year end mileage run. He had just returned to Los Angeles from Indonesia, and found that he was 275 elite qualifying dollars short of maintaining his status with American Airlines (meanwhile he was 25,000 elite qualifying miles over the requirement).

American Airlines lets you buy up to the next elite tier, but they wanted him to pay $1,875 to keep the status. So he decided to embark on what I suppose isn’t even a mileage run, but a “money” run.

He booked a $400 roundtrip ticket to Mexico, and he’d have 24 hours on the ground. He figured he might as well have some fun with qualifying, rather than just handing the money over to the airline.

How Someone Allegedly Ended Up In A Mexican Jail

Well, the mileage run didn’t go as smoothly as one would hope. You can check out the full Twitter thread here, but to summarize:

  • Andrew went out to a bar, and was presented with a bill of $300 for the two beers he ordered, which was clearly a scam; he gave the bar manager his credit card, but it declined due to fraud, and his phone had also died earlier in the evening
  • The bar manager threatened him and took him to an ATM outside to get money; Andrew refused to withdraw cash, so the bar manager called the cops
  • The police showed up and handcuffed Andrew, while the bar manager took Andrew’s passport and debit card
  • When he was placed in jail, the cops said they’d just leave him there for 30 minutes, and would then release him
  • He was in jail for hours and hours, and the following day he was released when the police informed him that his “friend” had paid bail; the “friend” was a woman from Kenya, who said “I heard what happened when you came in, so I figured you could use some help”
  • She had been arrested because she ordered an Uber and allegedly didn’t pay
  • At this point it was 2PM and his flight was at 3:26PM, and the Kenyan lady joined him to the airport
  • At the airport he asked if there was any way he could get on his flight without his passport; after quite a bit of back and forth, and being directed to purchase an immigration form, he was eventually allowed to fly without a passport
  • In the meantime he had run back to the car, where the Kenyan woman grabbed his hand, told him everything would be okay, and kissed him, and then he kissed her back
  • He was routed home on the last flight out of Cabo on American, which would have been through Phoenix, arriving in Los Angeles at around 10PM

I think those are the key details, though there are all kinds of other details that add to the story as well, from someone else paying for his dinner the first night, to his crazy cell mate, to him getting a free ride the next day, to his friends creating a meme the second he told them about the story that perfectly summed up what happened, even though they didn’t yet have all the details.

https://twitter.com/andrewkimmel/status/1212171081785720833

American Airlines’ response to this?

LOL. In fairness, if you look at the timestamps, that was sent after the first Tweet, before the rest of the story. So American wasn’t actually in the wrong here, though it looks kind of funny.

Is This Story Real?

My first instinct of course was that this story had to be made up. All of this is just too “perfect.” Every part of it, from the Kenyan lady saving him, to his phone just happening to die, to him having a single credit card on him, to him being rebooked on the last flight, to… well, everything else.

I would note that Andrew appears to work in TV, and is a former reality TV producer. That’s not to say he made up the story, but I think he certainly has an eye for what makes a good story, and what makes good drama.

As presented, just about all parts of the story add up. For example, he shared a screenshot of the credit card fraud alert, so I believe that happened.

The timing of other things even adds up. If he was rebooked through Phoenix he would have arrived back in Los Angeles at around 10PM, and sure enough he posts a picture of that gate upon arrival, and it is the right gate at the right time.

He also shared WhatsApp messages with the Kenyan woman, and the timing of that was logical as well.

So as much as this story sounds absolutely nuts, I can’t actually find a factual flaw in what he has presented.

Bottom Line

This is a heck of a story. It’s getting popular, and I suspect it’s about to go really viral. And that’s for good reason, because it has all the elements of a good story.

If I absolutely had to guess, I’d say that this story is mostly true, at a minimum. I absolutely think he went to Cabo, and I also think it’s highly likely he went to the bar and was scammed there, based on the screenshots of the credit card fraud charges. I also think it’s likely he lost his passport, as claimed.

What I’m curious about is how many of the other details that make this a really awesome story are true. For example:

  • Was he really put in jail?
  • Was he really bailed out by a Kenyan woman who just happened to overhear his story?
  • Did he really end up kissing her, in what almost sounds like a romantic comedy premise?

So I do think this is at least mostly true. What a story to start the new year!

What do you make of this story — do you think it’s mostly true, completely made up, or somewhere in the middle?

(Tip of the hat to @pir8z40)

Comments
  1. This really has nothing to do with AA except for the fact that he took a mileage run to Mexico. Nothing about AA – shouldn’t this be “Misc.”? Not that it matters, I guess

  2. I was reading this on his twitter feed this morning over coffee. I have trouble imagining he would just make the story up. Mostly as he has a profile and if found to be even embellishing it could damage his career.

    It seems plausible in the chaos of all that was going on and, well, who has not had compounded fiascos happen during their life while on a trip.

    If found to be true, which my instincts tell me it is, it does not bode well for encouraging tourism to Mexico. The biggest takeaway is that Cabo, so popular with those in SoCal, is clearly not a place to go to. I mean, one person in jail for an Uber scam and another for a Bar scam? And the police are in on it? If this goes truly viral and is for real it looks awful for Mexico.

  3. @Stuart – Yea because there’s no embellishment in reality TV.

    For me, the one thing he had to do was reply to that text saying there was no fraud alert. Even if his phone died at that exact moment, he could have made a free international collect call. Come on!

  4. @Stuart – do you remember James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces”? As Lucky wrote, some elements are certainly true. But it really happen as he tells it? Almost certainly NOT. Give it 2 weeks – the truth will out.

  5. @Daniel. Agreed. But you would think the whole Jusse Smollet case would be a pretty good wake up to those in the entertainment industry not to mess around with creating “stories” to grab attention. This guy has to be smart enough to know that if proven to be making a lot of this up his career is finished.

  6. I find extremely weird the timestamp analysis of a story I wouldn’t give a sxxt about.
    Internet is full of business men that want to make clicks with strange stories or:
    James Bond mileage runs
    Sweet dog pics
    Drama family situations
    We are adult enough to access the content we want to see

    Happy new year from IPC

  7. The bar scam appears 100% real as I watched the exact same situation unfold on MSNBC when they went to Istanbul. They did a piece on it a few years ago.

  8. Check the google reviews on Urban bar Cabo, the past 7-10 reviews are all 1 Star with the story of how they are a scam and steal money etc..

  9. @Aztec maybe you should perform another timestamp analysis and notice it’s late breakfast time on America where a full source of these blog readers might wake up on a holiday day…
    At 03:00 EST sure there are many less incoming messages…

  10. I don’t doubt this, as crazy as it is. I learned my lesson…after Nov 8, 2016 I now know anything is possible. Sigh.

  11. Ben
    Do you still do the ocasional mileage run?
    I remember in the past you had a few but didn’t see any reports from you about such a mileage run lately

  12. I’m inclined to believe this is true. Based on his tweets, he says AA arranged for him to be put on the “last flight out” of SJD, which looks like it was the 4:17pm flight to PHX rather than his original 3:26pm flight to LAX. That flight took off at 4:35pm local time from SJD, which checks out with his screenshots. He then would’ve connected in PHX to the 9:43pm AA flight to LAX, which gets in around 10:15pm and makes sense with his picture of the LAX gate.

  13. I hope this isnt another Jessie Smollet story because Mexico doesnt need any more bad publicity from an entitled gringo! THIS also echoes the 2016 Olympic story of the fake robbery from that american athlete which was later disproved.

    also…. why would he not want to withdraw cash from atm w/ the bar manager. it is better than going to jail. If he refused to do so he deserves going to jail and only asked for it!

    i dont believe this one bit! anyone in that situation would withdraw money from the ATM rather than to have it escalate and call the cops. I call BS!

  14. I am wondering what happened to the Kenyan lady afterwards. It would be nice if they reunite and become happily ever after.

  15. Ladies and Gents of the OMAAT Club,

    First of all… HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all. And to Ben… THANK YOU for bringing us the best all year long!!

    As for this story, I saw it late last night, and was intending to post it here on “Ask Lucky” today… only to find that you guys were well ahead on the game. So to put it all in perspective, here are a few questions to share: First, who hasn’t needed to knock out a Mileage Run… and can’t they occasionally actually bring a bit of fun? Next, is there anybody in the room (or in this blog) that can’t say that this was SURELY the most entertaining Mileage Run story ever?? And finally, can’t we enjoy a bit of levity… as whether or not this poor guy’s hilarious story is either 5% true or 95% true, wasn’t the best part AA’s incredible tweet back??? Gotta luv it!

    Good tidings, good cheer, good posts, good stories, and a year of good flights (okay – maybe no Cabo!)… to one and all here!!!

  16. This has nothing to do with Mexican tourism. I spend 150 days per year in Cabo and have never had an issue. Some people may bring it on themselves with their behavior. Thise are the ugly gringos who respect another country. I believe the story. Yes, I am a gringo.

  17. Fakest part of this fake story is that he booked a last minute ticket to Cabo from LA on NYE for $400. uh right. That ticket would have been closer to $1k.

  18. What’s interesting is the negative review of Urban Bar posted 10 months ago on Google from someone whose only other review, from 5 months ago, is praise for a Taiwanese restaurant in Portland, Oregon. She reports:

    “HORRIBLE SCAM BAR! DO NOT GO HERE! AVOID AT ALL COST! I used my debit card to purchase one drink and they placed multiple fraudulent US dollar charges of $500, $800, $200, $200 through my account! Shady bartenders, please save yourself the trouble. WORST PLACE!!!!!!!”

    We can verify that his credit card was declined at this location, and they are talking dollars, not pesos. And, he apparently did fly from Los Cabos to LAX this week. We can also verify that his job title is “chief creative officer.”

    The rest of it, conveniently, has no witnesses who are easy to locate. A British drunk here, a Kenyan admirer there. Not a single Californian? Los Cabos is the third largest colony of Californians who drink, outside their native state.

    Of course, the “Kenyan” is really Megan from California – look at his tweets with her.

  19. A 3 dollar bill is more legit than this story, though not nearly as entertaining. The best lies are filled with plausible truths, and this one is just too perfectly filled with a mountain of them.

    Well played, good sir; you’ve gained the attention of the interwebs for whatever end game you set out for, and I look forward to the follow-up on how it was planned and executed.

  20. I find this story hard to believe. Someone doing a mileage run (or money run in this case) at the end of the year, has to be a seasoned traveler.
    I can’t imagine such a person to fall prey to such a bar scam, as described.
    And in the middle of all this, the bar manager “took” his card and passport! No way.

  21. “why would he not want to withdraw cash from atm w/ the bar manager.” – Umm because he had two beers and was being extorted? Assuming his story is true he probably didn’t think the police would throw him in jail. Normally with these types of scams the establishment backs down when the police show up.

  22. “American Airlines’ response to this whole thing?” Actually that wasn’t their final response. That wasn’t even a response to the whole thing. They sent that as a result of his first tweet before he even told the story on twitter or sent any other tweets, so how could that possibly be the response the whole thing? Look at the time stamp. Here is the AA tweet after his additional tweets that detailed the story: ““@andrewkimmel Oh no, Andrew. We’re so sorry, we only saw the one tweet where you included our handle. We will meet you in DMs”. Sure go ahead and try to make AA look indifferent.”

  23. The story is good even if its not true. If anyone travels often out of the country they know the scams, and who just travels with just one credit card and no debit card?

  24. The Mexican Peso and American Dollar shares the same symbol, an $300mxn is about $15usd, which is about right for two beers.

    I’ve had a bar try this with me in Cancun, but it’s possible that Andrew was drunk, confused about the currency, and refusing to pay his $300mxn bill and was hauled off for that.

  25. Well certainly entertaining and very Hangover movie like….too bad he’s
    stuck with AA, my recent experience with them makes me appreciate Delta a bit more! Happy 2020

  26. Interesting. His phone started working again? Wireless solar charging? Very convenient. Sounds fishy.

  27. A quick Google search of Urban Bar in Cabo shows multiple reviews citing Fraud, Scams, and other Shady deeds on the owners part. Do your research people!!!

  28. I suspect at least some of the story is fake if not all. It is highly unlikely that any airline would let you fly without a passport, especially to the United States as they would not be willing to risk a fine. The story also refers to his being directed to purchase an immigration form – again, highly unlikely that the Mexicans would have given him a new card without a passport. They would know that there is a consular agency in Cabo and would have directed him there.

  29. Just an editorial suggestion that if a post is updated substantially (aka excluding minor typos), could you indicate that? I know at the top you show an update linked to a different new post, but it confused me when much of the post questioning the time stamp and validity of the story changed after presumably further verification.

  30. When I was a kid I did a segment promotion up and down the west coast several times to turn roughly 580$ into a business class ticket from Seattle to GIG (Rio). Well after three months of having the best time of my life in my favorite city I headed to the airport with less than 100$ on me and two maxed out credit cards. UA at the time ran an old Pan Am 747 from LAX to Rio nonstop and I was so ready to get on that bird. Well at the Rio business class check in, security tried to make sure I was in the correct line to check in and suddenlyI was told “they had been waiting for me.” Confused a supervisor pulled me aside and literally tore up my business class ticket in half and told me I’d have to find another way home. He had no further information and I was not welcome to fly UA. I was stunned. broke and afraid. Rio, is not a place to be stuck with no money. I started tearing up and asked a nice, beautiful Brazilian lady if I could use her phone in a VIP lounge of some sort that was located before security. I called Citibank collect and explained my problem. I needed them to extend my limit so I could buy a ticket to MIA on AA to get out of the country. Being a kid, without a large limit, on my card they refused. I at his point was losing it. I then called my other card a Seafirst (now B of A) small Alaska airlines( I think) card which was equally maxed out and also had no room on it. Well my small town bank took sympathy on me and I went to AA to buy a full fare Y (coach) ticket to MIA to get out of, Brazil. I drank the entire way to the states and then showed up at Co. in MIA and after three hours talked them into issuing a first class ticket to Seattle out of my Onepass acct. I was sobering up at this point and hopped on my flight from MIA to SEA via DEN. Now this was the strange part. I’m walking in DEN airport and run into my business partner who had been at a meeting in DEN and was on the same flight as me back to Seattle. He was in coach and I was on my award in F. Small word indeed.
    Anyway, I was so angry at UA and spent hours on the phone trying to figure out what had happened to the 6 grand business class ticket I worked so hard to get. Well finally some M.Plus agent gave me securities number. Ms. Brown was so angry I’d somehow gotten her number. She was based out of Chicago and knew exactly who I was. I had “snuck on flights without a ticket using a boarding pass”. This was not true but she refused to listen and my premier exec acct. was closed. So, perfect storms, they do happen. I eventually just signed up for another Mileage plus acct. and still flew UA and regained my status. But I was angry and was going to have make them pay. I swiped a roll of revalidation stickers from an empty ticket counter and took them to a print shop and had several rolls made. I’d buy really cheap far in advance tickets and then use them as business fares. My 2000$ (that’s how much it cost back then) roundtrips for business from Seattle to JFK would cost me 105$ with a Northwest travel coupon that they matched. These used to come in . Val Pacs”. I never paid full fare to travel on business on UA and figure I saved ,well over 80 grand conservatively. Soon I was doing the same trick for my buddies. So Ms. Brown ad UA you fucked with the wrong kid!

  31. Still don’t see how any of this can be laid at American’s feet as he is so desperately trying to do. His own poor choices have nothing to do with American Airlines.

  32. This guy is obviously looking for publicity as well as some attention. I know the var owner and did not take the guys passport. Also he was taken by the police for being aggressive with the woman he was with. As you mentioned in this article, the guy is just looking for a story without thinking about the consequences that his influence has over Mexican tourism and these small businesses.

  33. To people who are doubting his story, I am in Cabo right now and I have a 300$CAD bill at Urban Bar on my amex. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I didnt realize it, paid it and didn’t end up in jail. Just hoping I’ll be able to contest it with amex.

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