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Answers (12)

Involuntary Downgrade

Involuntary Downgrade

  1. Scott1234

    I recently had a frustrating experience with American Airlines and I wanted to get the opinions of some experienced travelers. A few months ago I booked a roundtrip flight from CMH-DUB (connecting through ORD each way) scheduled for May 2016 for myself and my fiancee. We paid for Main Cabin Extra on all 4 flight segments. I randomly logged into my reservation about a month ago and noticed that the airplane had been switched to an A330 from ORD-DUB and we had been bumped to standard economy. Every Main Cabin Extra seat was still available so I switched us back to Main Cabin Extra (at no additional charge). We received no notification about this change in aircraft or seating.

    Last week I logged into the reservation and noticed that our flights from CMH-ORD (first segment of the trip) and ORD-CMH (last segment of the trip) had been changed and we again had been bumped to standard economy on both segments. However, it would not let us book any Main Cabin Extra seats.

    In addition, the CMH-ORD flight was bumped back a couple hours which would have given us a very tight connection in ORD and potentially caused us to miss our flight to DUB. I spent over an hour on the phone with an AA customer service rep who was very understanding and helpful and was able to switch the CMH-ORD segment to an earlier flight, but the system would not let her move us back to Main Cabin Extra seats even though the seats were empty.

    We were not notified of any of these changes. I sent an email to AA customer service and received an odd response in which they wrote that they could not personally call every passenger with every schedule change, and that most of their schedule changes “minimally impacted” passenger travel. I never asked for a personal phone call but most airlines seem to generate an automated email regarding a schedule change, especially one that could cause a traveler to potentially miss a connecting flight!

    What are the policies about notifying passengers of schedule changes, and how can an airline randomly downgrade someone from a paid Main Cabin Extra seat, especially when Main Cabin Extra seats are empty on the new flights? Is there any way to prevent this from happening beyond checking the reservation every few days until the trip?

    Sorry for the long winded explanation, and thanks in advance for responses

  2. Gaurav

    [USER=420]@Scott1234[/USER] that sounds really frustrating. I think one area that all airlines can improve is clearer communication about schedule changes. I just had a major equipment change with no clear communication from AA and it’s really annoying. Have you been able to get the MCE seats assigned? If not I would call back and ask for a supervisor. If you have paid for something, there should be no reason why you cannot select your seats.

  3. Scott1234

    Thanks Gaurav. The customer service rep proactively got her supervisor involved who was also unable to unblock the MCE seats on the CMH-ORD flight. She initiated a refund for MCE which is supposed to take about a week to process. We are back in MCE on the other 3 segments of the flight.

  4. Gaurav

    Can you now buy up to MCE on the flight they couldn’t put you in MCE?

  5. Scott1234

    No the seats are still blocked off even though the AA rep claimed they were open. At this point it’s probably a waste of time and effort to get MCE on that segment considering it’s about an hour flight. Assuming the MCE refund goes through…

    The lack of communication and involuntary downgrades are very frustrating considering the major changes in aircraft and flight times.

  6. Anonymous

    Wondering what (if anything) I can do about the following situation….

    I had booked AUS-LAX-SYD in August 2016 on a Saver level award. AA F to QF F that I snagged in Nov 2015 in one of the waives of high availability. I was booked QF F outbound and J on the return. After noticing my trip details wouldn’t load I called EXP desk to find out two things had happened 1) There was a schedule change on my AA flight to LAX (no big deal no missed connections 2) There was a schedule AND equipment change on the LAX to SYD route. The plane change from A380 to 747 with no first class. AA automatically downgraded me from F to J when the equipment changed. After 45 min on phone with EXP desk agent obviously couldn’t find any other F award seats available around my date of departure or wasn’t able to offer any alternate options. She offered to cancel (which I don’t want to do but could do for free anyways).

    Wondering how anyone out there would handle the situation? Other than refunding the difference in miles, looking for input on my options. My first preference is to fly QF but don’t care about my routing

  7. Gaurav

    Aaron–that sounds pretty frustrating all around. Try following this and see if you have any luck: [URL]http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/09/22/how-to-be-your-own-liaison/[/URL]

  8. Donna

    My AA award flight to CDG has changed equipment/routing five times in four months and recently attempted to put me on a red eye flight a day earlier out of SAN to PHL with a 12 hour layover. It seems to be the new normal since the merger with respect to reward travel especially SAV. Each time it takes about an hour in the phone to get things restored. Will never use SAV again – just not worth the hassle.

  9. Gaurav

    [USER=1566]@Gia[/USER], what do you mean by SAV? Saver award tickets?

  10. Donna

    Yes, Miles SAAver fares. The higher category, Anytime awards, haven’t caused any issues for me in the past

  11. Gaurav

    [USER=1566]@Gia[/USER], thanks for clarifying. I’d venture to say that the booking level would make no difference in these cases. The airline is going to change equipment or adjust schedules as necessary irrespective of how people booked their seats.

  12. Donna

    I totally agree about the schedule and equipment changes. Strangely enough the original flights that I booked (and were removed from) are still open with the same equipment and nearly the same schedule (minor changes). I migrated to AA with the US Air merger and it’s been a bumpy ride so far! Hoping for no more flight changes. Thanks!

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