View Full Version : Canceled / Delayed / Overbooked American Air - Never Again!

Jan 17, 2012, 7:43 AM
Just discovered this forum and thought I'd post my AA experience. The incident took place end of Oct, 2011. I booked my trip online through American's website. I was directed there via Kayak as they offered the lowest cost ticket for my trip. I was to find out, the hard way, that you get what you pay for!

The flight I booked was from Bangkok, Thailand to Hartford, CT round trip. It's a trip I've done before, and I knew the hard part was finding convenient arrival and departure times, and also reasonable connections and waiting times in connecting airports. I was able to find decent departures, arrivals, and connections with AA so I went ahead and purchased the ticket. The flight was Bangkok to Tokyo, with a wait of 4 hours there. Then onward to Dallas with a wait of around 2 hours before flying on to Hartford. The price was right, connections and times were good, and I was happy and went with it.

Well around a month later I get an email from AA that my flights had changed, and they sent along the new itinerary. Come to find out, I now had a 12 hour layover at Narita Airport in Tokyo, and because of that my flight to Dallas would arrive later, and my arrival in Hartford would be around 5 or 6 hours later than when I had booked it. This would turn out to be very inconvenient for those that would be picking me up at the airport in Hartford, but that's another story!

I tried to go online and see if I could change anything - no such luck. So I resigned myself to being stuck at Narita, and figured I'd just try and make the best of it. I don't fly that often anymore, so I'm pretty patient and flexible about these things of which I had no control over.

So I arrived that morning at Narita around 6:30 AM, and as I checked through security I noticed an AA counter nearby. They were closed at that time, but the gal at security told me they opened around 9:30 AM. So I spent the morning wandering around the airport, seeking out smoking rooms (thank you Japan for being so accommodating!), then made my way to the AA counter to see what I can get from them. I was hoping to catch a flight leaving earlier to the US that I could still connect into Hartford, and traveling alone I figured I may have a shot.

Well although the girl there was very pleasant to deal with, there was no other flight she could get me on to get me either to Dallas or Hartford any earlier. With another 8 or 10 hours to spend at Narita, I asked her if she could get me a day room, where I could possibly shower and sleep, and if AA would pick up the tab. She said there were rooms like that available, but AA would NOT pick up the tab. So I asked her if she would give me a pass for the Admirals Club (or whatever they call it) so I could sit and rest and get something to eat and drink. She said basically "no way!" but said she would call her boss and ask, which she did. Her boss said "no way!" also.

Now I was getting more angry, but controlled my temper with the girl as it wasn't her fault. So I told her that the very least they could do is give me a meal and drink voucher so I can get some food and drinks while I waited for my departure. And she said she had to call her boss again. Well, she came back and told me they'd give me a meal voucher - NO DRINKS - that I can redeem in a number of restaurants there. I forget the exact amount of Japanese yen it was worth, but it didn't seem like very much at the time I saw it. And yes, it turns out that AA did do the very least they could do. That voucher turned out to get me an overpriced sandwich type meal, and I even had to put up a couple bucks out of my pocket to pay for the whole thing!

On top of the horrible customer service, paying for and not getting the itinerary I had originally purchased (bait & switch in the real world!), and being expected to fork out $6 for a beer on my flight AND put that charge on my credit card - no cash accepted - I made it to my destinations without further incident. I should mention that when I ordered the beer on my flight the attendant gave it to me and asked for my credit card. I told her in that case then, I didn't want it, and she gave it to me 'on the house'. I thought that was very good of her, and complimented her for being so generous. It's a shame the AA employees that are on the front lines of dealing with customers are also victims of AA's poor customer service. I might also add that on my return flight as they were serving drinks, the attendant asked me what I'd like and I told him, "I'd love a beer, but I'm not about to pay $6 and put it on my card". He told me with a smile, "here, I'll give it to you, no problem. I don't have to pay for it!". Another good deed by a faithful employee. I mention this because it's not fair to blame or otherwise vent your anger on those that are just trying to do their job. Kudos to those two attendants that showed what real customer service is all about!

Well when I finally returned home to Thailand I wrote a complaint to AA on their website's complaint form thingy. I requested a reply, and I really figured they would offer some compensation for my being inconvenienced the way I was, due to no fault of my own. I figured at worst they'd offer me free miles, at best possibly a monetary refund or recompense.

Hah! What the hell was I thinking?? I ended up getting a couple of "form" emails in reply. You know the type. Where they throw your name in there to make it sound personal, but in the end offer you absolutely nothing but a "oh well, sorry - but TS"!

So to conclude this saga, I would heartily recommend to all you readers out there (if you've managed to read it this far!) NOT to fly American Airlines - ever! I know I won't! I'll pay the extra couple hundred bucks next time and fly with a more customer-oriented airline. AA is no longer honorable in my eyes.

Jan 17, 2012, 9:29 AM
I am pro consumer..but I am not sure I agree with your stance. You arrived 5 or 6 hours later than your booked time. AA provided you with a voucher for a sandwich and you had two free drinks from AA staff enroute.

You feel you are entitled to free miles at worst, or monetary recompense/refund at best. This was not a delay, this was a schedule change and the airline ran to schedule. You may well have been able to say this schedule change doesn't work for me and get a refund and purchase another ticket.

Don't misunderstand me.... these changes are very annoying and the terms and conditions of tickets are shockingly one sided. When they made the schedule change, I think the fair thing for AA to do would have been to offer you a day room at their cost. However, they did make limited gestures... and I am not sure this passes the threshold of something which requires a more generous response.

Jan 17, 2012, 1:13 PM
First off, as inconvenient as the situation was, I had to - and did - grin and bear it. Nothing I could have done about it anyway, so as I said I made the most of it. I think I handled it quite well considering there are folks (I know some!) who would have probably gone ballistic given the same circumstances. :)

My main beef with AA is that: 1) They changed my flight times significantly, and changed the overall dynamic of my entire trip significantly enough to where I should have had the option to cancel that ticket and get a refund. I had booked months in advance. They just changed everything without asking whether or not I would (or even could) agree to those changes. Poor business practice, bait & switch. I paid for one thing and got something significantly different. :mad:

And: 2) At no time - while enroute or even after I filed my complaint - did they offer me anything whatsoever in compensation. Day room, a pass to the Admiral Club (would have cost them squat!), not even a meal voucher until I pleaded with the girl at Narita, and got a lousy sandwich out of it. And after the fact they offered me no miles, no apology, no expression of regret. :mad:

I had done basically the same trip the previous year with Delta. At one point along the way one of my flights was delayed. I don't remember how long, but it was no more than an hour, and didn't even affect my final arrival time. When I got back home, I had an email waiting from Delta apologizing for the delay (which at that time I couldn't even remember) that offered me free miles for my "inconvenience".

And just to clarify, in my original post when I mentioned a monetary recompense, I did not expect a full refund or anything like that. I honestly expected that they would comp me some miles, or offer a future ticket discount or something like that, which they never offered.

The "two free drinks from AA staff" were simply acts of kindness from those two people (bless their hearts!), and not any form of compensation. And I will say again, all the AA folks I dealt with on the ground (and in the air of course) were friendly and helpful and a pleasure to deal with. it is at the company level where I think their customer service model lacks.

You can agree or not with my stance, I respect your opinion (and I do thank you for your reply!), but as a costumer that is how I feel. In the overall scheme of life, this was a mere minor disappointment. But based on this experience I will choose another airline to disappoint me on future trips.

Jan 17, 2012, 6:21 PM
I don't disagree. I think you are entitled to a refund if there is a substantial change to your itinerary. I am shocked you didn't have this option. You might consider a complaint to the DOT if they failed to do so.

I am equally shocked you have had better service from Delta....!!!!!

Jan 18, 2012, 8:12 AM
I don't disagree. I think you are entitled to a refund if there is a substantial change to your itinerary. I am shocked you didn't have this option. You might consider a complaint to the DOT if they failed to do so.

I am equally shocked you have had better service from Delta....!!!!!
Lol, Yep Delta. And they had free beer too! :D Though that was 2 years ago...

As for a refund once AA had changed my itinerary, it was a tricky situation for me. I was flying into Bangkok on another airline from elsewhere in Thailand. I needed to coordinate the arrival and departure times of those flights to meet my AA flights into and out of Bkk. And I had already booked that r/t domestic flight to Bangkok and back home again when I returned to Thailand in 2 weeks. It was a cheapie flight with Air Asia and it was a non-changeable and non-refundable ticket.

I was lucky that the AA flight changes didn't affect my original departure time from Bkk, or my final arrival time 2 weeks later. It was several weeks after my original booking when they changed me. And I couldn't wait too long to book my Air Asia ticket because my return flight with them was starting the high tourist season in Thailand, and seats would be harder to get.

I really thought I might be able to take care of things along the way. But my first leg from Bkk to Tokyo was a code share on Japan Air. I talked with them at Bkk airport, but they told me I'd have to take it up with AA. Then, as I mentioned, I tried again with AA at Narita and no luck.

I originally thought that they had just overbooked my Tokyo to Dallas flight and bumped me as a single traveler. I figured if I raised some hell they may 'take care of me'. Turned out that the flight was cancelled altogether, for what reason I don't know. But I did meet others at the Narita AA counter that had the same flight and same problem as I did.

Being that it was months ago now, it's all but forgotten with me. But I will avoid AA in the future. Just wanted to relate my experience here.


Mar 6, 2012, 8:04 AM
Well it's just not my year. In a cruel twist of fate I'm forced to make an unplanned trip back to CT for family issues. And the only flight I could get on short notice for a good price was with Korean Air, and a partial of that flight is with American Air. :mad:

Fortunately it's only the Chicago to Hartford leg, so there's not too much room for any major issues to arise... or is there? :eek:

Mar 6, 2012, 11:29 PM