A Lucky Rebooking… Or What I Should Have Expected?

Filed Under: American, US Airways

My schedule has been crazy the past few weeks, and as part of that I’ve been booking travel very last minute. I was in Los Angeles this morning and decided it made sense to fly home to Tampa same day, since I need to be on the ground during the day tomorrow.

From looking at availability, it seemed I had two practical options:

  • The US Airways redeye from Los Angeles to Tampa, which was completely full in first class and had slim pickings of good seats in economy (as I recently wrote about, I do everything in my power to avoid redeyes nowadays, and I need to be at least reasonably “fresh” tomorrow)
  • US Airways through Phoenix with a roughly one hour connection (I got the upgrade on Los Angeles to Phoenix, while first class was sold out on Phoenix to Tampa, though at least I could snag an exit row window seat, which didn’t seem horrible)


There were also a few options on American, though none were as conveniently timed, and for the most part they were significantly more expensive.

So I booked US Airways and headed to the airport. Literally the second I step out of the Uber at LAX I get a call from US Airways. Apparently my flight from Los Angeles to Phoenix was delayed by an hour due to a mechanical issue, which would leave me with a “negative” connection in Phoenix.

I decided I might as well quickly head through security so I would have a power outlet and quiet place from which to call, so headed to the Alaska Board Room (using my Priority Pass membership) so I could look more closely at my options from there.


After looking more closely at the options I realized:

  • The chances of me making the connection in Phoenix were slim to none, especially since there were departure delays out of LAX
  • If I had to stick to US Airways, my best bet was just taking the redeye from Los Angeles to Tampa, which I was really hoping to avoid

So I hopped on aa.com and usairways.com to look at availability, and as you might expect there was very little going same day. That’s a challenge when you book an afternoon flight from the west coast to east coast, as there aren’t many flights leaving in the afternoons which get you in same day.

I did notice one option, however. American had some availability through Dallas, though they were only selling first class on both segments (economy was full). So I phoned up the US Airways Executive Platinum desk (former Chairman’s Preferred desk) and got a great agent. I explained I was really hoping to get home same day, and that literally the only thing with any space was an American flight through Dallas in first class. I acknowledged it was ridiculous to even request that, though asked if there was anything she could do.

To my (pleasant) surprise she rebooked me without issue in paid first class within a few minutes.

On one hand I felt bad even asking. I’m someone who knows the rules and I won’t generally ask for anything outside the rules. So if the agent had said “no” I would have been totally fine with that.

However, if you’re actually going to apply logic to a situation as opposed to the letter of the law, I don’t think it was an unreasonable request at all. I booked a flight with a certain schedule, and intentionally wanted to avoid a redeye. US Airways had a delay within their control, and I just wanted to be rebooked on the only “real” alternative. It just so happens to be that they only had first class for sale. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable accommodation for a top tier elite member.

Though I suppose that’s only my second luckiest rebooking on American in the past couple of months!


It’s nice that there are still some reservations agents out there who can apply logic to a situation. So thanks Tawnya for being awesome — I’ll get a good night of sleep in a “real” bed tonight thanks to you!

I’m curious where you guys stand — did the US Airways apply “reasonable” logic to the situation, or was I being greedy by even asking about the possibility of being rebooked?

  1. Never hurts to ask! I have had this done for me a few times, even when I didn’t have status. Why is a mechanical something under their control? Did they give you more information to indicate that?

  2. I’ve never had a problem getting US Airways to confirm revenue first class during irrops when that’s all that’s available.

    And I’ve also frequently been able to do it with American, my batting average is 100% with agents in the clubs (or at least clubs outside the main hubs) and it’s required hand up call back at times over the phone.

    Honestly doesn’t seem that far out of normal AA or US experience to me, at least as an Executive Platinum.

  3. Needed to return home (to Cairo, from Vancouver) 2 days earlier than expected, booked in LH paid business class, ended up getting $400 refunded 😉

  4. I’m surprised you even fly economy – you said in an earlier post a few years back that you ‘never fly economy’ blah blah blah.

  5. Yeah that doesn’t seem all that crazy for an EXP. All bets are off during IRROPS, and frankly the service you get in those situations is probably one of the most valuable perks of being a top-tier elite on any member. They pretty much do everything in their power to get you where you need to be.

  6. It’s totally reasonable! They are the same airline now and your flight was delayed, you were not going to make it. You’re top tier. You paid more to the company in a seat that might have gone empty.
    Lets talk about the terrible business class from MIA and LAX via DFW on AA. It’s the same old cans they fly to HNL. It’s totally depressing to even step foot on one of those planes. I can’t imagined the back…

  7. Lucky, I had a similar problem with American, I was coming from Bogota, flying to Miami then LAX then SFO. As usual their old 777 was having some issues to the flight to lax was delayed. Everything was pretty full except I saw MIA-JFK-SFO but expert flyer was only showing availability in first/business. Y inventory was zero. The agent on the phone said oh yes I can put you on those flights. I asked great. I will assume it will be on forward cabin right? She said no it will be economy. I told her how it was possible if there was no inventory. She said that doesn’t matter. That she can put me on economy to wait for a seat assignment. I told her that was preposterous. As an EP that was outrageous to already been inconvenience and to then most likely wait for someone to volunteer and then get a middle seat. How is it possible for her to create inventory when Y=0?

  8. From another Tom.

    I doubt it very sincerely. Three years ago United booked me into their equivalent of Main Cabin Extra and then, on the second leg, into F all on account of an MX issue. I’m nobody on United. The rebooking was in the DFW United Club courtesy of one of the passes that came with my United Explorer Card.

    United is my back-up airline.

  9. In March I was coming back from St Lucia on AA flights that I booked with Dividend Miles in F and traveling UVF-MIA-PHL. The plane at UVF was delayed by 6 hours, meaning we wouldn’t get in to MIA until after the last flight to PHL left. The gate agent got me on a MIA-PHL flight in revenue F the next morning. Now that’s what I call a lucky rebooking. What made it even better was we got put up in the MIA airport Sheraton over night so I also got some free Starpoints and a stay credit out of it.

  10. @ Sam — Domestically I typically pay for economy and always get upgraded. And as you can see in this post, I didn’t fly economy. 😉

  11. @ dmodemd — A mechanical is always within the airline’s control. Which isn’t to say it’s intentional, but it’s something the airline has to take responsibility for (unlike weather, ATC, etc.).

  12. I find US airways very generous while rebooking bcoz of wheather, mechanical issues.. Last week i was flying out of ewr to sfo(my home airport) via clt and bcoz of wind prob my flight was delayed and cudnt have made the connecting flight. I called US EXP plt number and the agent said nothing avl out of ewr to sfo but if i can go to jfk then she can book me to american direct flight… I said ok but i just ask r there any good seats avl she said economy and business is fully sold what i hav is 1st class so u will get 1st(jfk to sfo is transcon and 3class).. And she actually booked me 1st class and fare code F…

  13. Preferential treatment that you only get because the Airlines are monitoring your blog and media activities

  14. @Johan – Tampa and Orlando are about 90 miles apart (presuming you’re driving MCO to TPA, will vary a bit depending on where in the Tampa Bay area Lucky was actually heading for.) Gist of the article was that Lucky had things to do in Tampa the next day, so he’d want to avoid having to spend an hour and a half traveling from MCO to Tampa, and the car service or rental car expense. If he planned on renting a car in Tampa anyway, that might not be so bad (but there’s still be the tired drive), as long as he could find one without a drop charge. That’s not impossible, I’ve done it several times myself, but it’s not guaranteed.

    The lack of any sort of transportation between Orlando and Tampa except pricey car services, Red Coach buses, Greyhound, and (I think) one Amtrak train a day makes the Tampa market behave as if MCO is much farther away than it actually is. And besides, TPA is a much better airport. 😀

  15. For anyone who is curious, I have to say NO the agent had no idea who she was rebooking and she was shocked and honored, actually, that this kind man wrote a whole article to thank her.
    Thank you 🙂
    Actually, most of the time, to the best of our abilities, myself and the colleagues that I associate with, do the best we can to help everyone. We don’t have a list that jumps out and says “be extra nice to this person”. It’s not always possible, but we do our best to help always.

    It’s very sweet when someone takes the time to thank us, like quite a few of you have done.

  16. Technically the rule says list for the cabin in which they are ticketed in, which is why the previous poster was listed for Y even when it was zero. Is it a rule that is closely followed? Nope. However, the passenger usually gets on the flight as upgrades clear Y seats open up or they get confirmed in F at the gate. 99% of the time the agent will confirm you in F either way.

    No one can be mad at an agent for following the rules and placing a passenger in the cabin for which they are ticketed. Think if you wanted an upgrade to J/F and someone with a confirmed Y ticket took the last seat thereby denying you an upgrade.

    For the Exc Plats out there, remember you are always guaranteed a seat on a sold out flight. You just have to be willing to pay the full Y fare and the gate will process the oversell as usual.

    Either way, awesome the agent provided great customer service and got you where you needed to go.

  17. Seems reasonable to me. I would expect the same treatment if I called them, and don’t think you got preferential treatment as others have implied.

  18. What time Thursday were you in the LAX Board Room? I was there from 11 to 11:40, before the AS 12:15 LAX-SEA – just found myself looking for myself in your photo.

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