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Old Dec 15, 09, 1:23 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
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AAdvantage reward travel on OneWorld partner - YOUR THOUGHTS PLEASE!

Hi there - my first post on this forum after lurking for years. I am embarking on my honeymoon in one week and just had a terrible realization after talking to an AAdvantage customer service agent yesterday.

Turns out, I wasted nearly $500.00 purchasing separate tickets for my reservation on a OneWorld partner. In short, we are flying from New Orleans (MSY) to Puerto Escondido, Mexico (PXM). Both cities are serviced by AA and OneWorld. When I tried to book the tickets through AA.com with 70,000 AAdvantage miles, I got an error message saying the service did not exist. So instead, I used those 70,000 miles to fly from MSY-MIA-MEX and back, paying out of pocket nearly $500 for two round-trip tickets on Mexicana from Mexico City to our final destination.

I called in to AAdvantage customer service yesterday after reading on a blog about a similar problem a frequent flier encountered with AA. After getting nowhere with the agent, I filled out a detailed online complaint and also sent a detailed email to Sean Bentel, manager of customer relations at AA.

I don't expect any sort of refund on the tickets, because they were paid directly to Mexicana, but am I completely naive to hope that AA will either refund the miles used or issue a voucher? I will post the email to Mr. Bentel if you'd like.

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Old Dec 15, 09, 1:31 pm   #2
 
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I am not sure what you are trying to do.

You booked a mileage ticket to MEX on AA and then you bought a ticket to PXM that you really did not need to buy, right?

Why don't you call MX back and have them reissue you a ticket for MSY-PXM and pay a change fee?

Then call AA and ask them to redeposit the miles without a fee due to the computer glitch.

You are still out the MX change fee and are probably paying a higher ticket price, but look at it as pretty cheap dues into the frequent flyer world

Also, dude, it is your honeymoon and unless you are Ross from Friends, this should be your only one. Enjoy it and don't sweat over $500.
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Old Dec 15, 09, 1:40 pm   #3
brp
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Inasmuch as the message printed when one tries to book an award that does not have AA/AE coverage is

No American, American Eagle, or American Connection service is provided between the cities requested. Please contact AAdvantage Reservations for Award opportunities on AAdvantage participating airlines.

I'd say that the chances of having anything done about this are slim. But always worth a try.

Cheers.
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Old Dec 15, 09, 1:45 pm   #4
 
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Good points.

My goal is to get something back because the AA.com reservation tool is completely misleading when trying to use with a OneWorld partner. Because of the phrasing of the error message, I essentially flushed $500 down the toilet. I appreciate the sentiment that it is my honeymoon and I shouldn't fret over $500, but it's money that I would much rather have spent on spoiling my new bride. Plus, the reality is that $500 is probably a much bigger deal to me than it is to you, which is fine.

I looked into your suggestion and unfortunately, MX won't issue a ticket from MSY-PXM for our dates, even with multiple connections.

Ideally, we would like the separate MX reservation merged with our AA flights and the cost of the tickets refunded. Realizing this is unlikely, I am curious as to whether the board thinks AA might do anything to rectify the situation.
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Old Dec 15, 09, 1:51 pm   #5
brp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjh00008 View Post
Good points.

My goal is to get something back because the AA.com reservation tool is completely misleading when trying to use with a OneWorld partner. Because of the phrasing of the error message, I essentially flushed $500 down the toilet.
Sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree that that is misleading. The part about calling reservations to book on participating airlines seems very straightforward, IMO.

Also, since a little research on the site says that awards can be booked with these other airlines, I'd think that a call to find out why it didn't work before buying a ticket would be in order.

I wish you luck in this endeavor, but I think the argument you have is very weak.

Cheers.
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Old Dec 15, 09, 2:00 pm   #6
 
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Fair enough, and you may be right. I very well could be wrong on this, but I thought the message was different back in June when I made the reservations. I probably could have been more diligent in reading the policies at the time.

I'll let the board know what happens once I get a response from AA.
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Old Dec 15, 09, 2:00 pm   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjh00008 View Post
Good points.

My goal is to get something back because the AA.com reservation tool is completely misleading when trying to use with a OneWorld partner. Because of the phrasing of the error message, I essentially flushed $500 down the toilet.
How could that be misleading? It instructs you to CALL.

AA.Com has not had the ability to book flights on partner airlines - that is the reason why you need to CALL to book.

Have you called AAdvantage desk FIRST to ask what would be your options?

Lack of knowledge is never a defense or an excuse to get something back due to mistake being made.

The $500 spent would be between you and MX to sort it out if that even can be done. AAdvantage has nothing to do with that.
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Old Dec 15, 09, 2:08 pm   #8
 
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Unfortunately, you cannot book awards tickets with partner airlines on AA's web site. You must call. The web site allows you to book only on AA metal.
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Old Dec 15, 09, 2:10 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjh00008 View Post
I called in to AAdvantage customer service yesterday after reading on a blog about a similar problem a frequent flier encountered with AA. After getting nowhere with the agent, I filled out a detailed online complaint and also sent a detailed email to Sean Bentel, manager of customer relations at AA.

I don't expect any sort of refund on the tickets, because they were paid directly to Mexicana, but am I completely naive to hope that AA will either refund the miles used or issue a voucher? I will post the email to Mr. Bentel if you'd like.

Welcome to FT! Sorry to hear this is the reason to come out of lurking.

I'm unclear as to what your complaint is and what you're looking for w/r/t resolution. You are trying to fly from MSY to PXM. AA doesn't go to PXM and MX doesn't go to MSY. You tried to book on AA.com and got an error message telling you to call AA for more options. Inferring from your email it looks like you went and just booked tickets from MSY-MEX and then just purchased tickets on Mexicana from MEX-PXM.

So, you're upset that OneWorld does fly to PXM and you weren't offered that as an option online? OK, I'm cool with that... IT isn't AA's strong suit.

But then you are saying that you don't expect a refund of the money paid to Mexicana, but you do want a refund for your AA flight to MEX? I'm not clear on this. On what basis? I'm confused.

Then your second post says that by flying MEX, there still aren't FF award tickets available for the dates you want to travel. So, again... on what basis does AA need to give you a free ticket for something when there isn't any inventory available for what you want to do?

I second Deltahater's advice. I just looked in Orbitz leaving Jan 9 and returning Jan 16 and see a fare of $487 ($763 after taxes) for Mexicana to issue you a ticket MSY-PXM. Not sure what your dates are but I suspect you might be able to find a decent deal where you'd have a similar financial outlay and simultaneously keep your miles.
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Old Dec 15, 09, 2:17 pm   #10
brp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emma dog View Post

I'm unclear as to what your complaint is and what you're looking for w/r/t resolution. You are trying to fly from MSY to PXM. AA doesn't go to PXM and MX doesn't go to MSY. You tried to book on AA.com and got an error message telling you to call AA for more options. Inferring from your email it looks like you went and just booked tickets from MSY-MEX and then just purchased tickets on Mexicana from MEX-PXM.
Just to clarify from my understanding:

OP wanted an award from MSY-PXM.
Website said "can't be done on the site. Call."
OP booked MSY-MEX on the website and then bougth MEX-PXM.
OP now realizes that award MSY-PXM could have been obtained with a call, and same number of miles (I believe).
OP is trying to make the award be that and get money back for the purchased leg, based on misunderstanding/wording of the error message.

And that's what we're now discussing.

Cheers.
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Old Dec 15, 09, 2:39 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brp View Post
Just to clarify from my understanding:

OP wanted an award from MSY-PXM.
Website said "can't be done on the site. Call."
OP booked MSY-MEX on the website and then bougth MEX-PXM.
OP now realizes that award MSY-PXM could have been obtained with a call, and same number of miles (I believe).
OP is trying to make the award be that and get money back for the purchased leg, based on misunderstanding/wording of the error message.

And that's what we're now discussing.

Cheers.
I'm with you until we get to the bolded segment. In his second post, he said:
Quote:
I looked into your suggestion and unfortunately, MX won't issue a ticket from MSY-PXM for our dates, even with multiple connections.
I'm not sure if he's saying that there were no OW awards. I am suspecting this is the case, though since Orbitz is more than happy to spit out a ticket using AA/MX and using MX fare basis codes for a random week in January.

But the second bolded sentence also doesn't make sense to me because he also says:
Quote:
I don't expect any sort of refund on the tickets, because they were paid directly to Mexicana, but am I completely naive to hope that AA will either refund the miles used or issue a voucher?
I see what you're saying about getting the money spent on MX refunded from AA using a voucher. But I'm not sure where the miles come into play. Makes me think he's referring to the outlay to fly MSY-MEX on AA. It seems like such a leap to me that I'm hoping the OP will clarify things a little and change my mind.
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Old Dec 15, 09, 2:51 pm   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brp View Post
Just to clarify from my understanding:

OP wanted an award from MSY-PXM.
Website said "can't be done on the site. Call."
OP booked MSY-MEX on the website and then bougth MEX-PXM.
OP now realizes that award MSY-PXM could have been obtained with a call, and same number of miles (I believe).
OP is trying to make the award be that and get money back for the purchased leg, based on misunderstanding/wording of the error message.

And that's what we're now discussing.

Cheers.
Brp has it essentially correct. If the error message I receive now is the same as it was back in June when I booked then shame on me for not reading it closer and calling AA on the spot. I would like to think that I would have caught that at the time, but it was too long ago to remember precisely what happened at the time.

However, I know I am not the only one who has been tripped up trying to book an AAdvantage award ticket on a oneworld partner. <redacted> Put yourself in the shoes of a casual online booker. <redacted> I'm talking about someone who might interpret the following error message (as it currently reads):

"No American, American Eagle, or American Connection service is provided between the cities requested. Please contact AAdvantage Reservations for Award opportunities on AAdvantage participating airlines."

to mean:

"We don't fly there. If you want the list of places we fly, you are invited to call 1-800...". There are (intelligent) people who might not think that AA simply doesn't provide the ability to book codeshare flights online. There are people still who might no immediately discern between a codeshare partner city and an "American Airlines" city.

In fact, AA and their codeshare partners profit from people who make the same decisions as me. If it was profitable for them to correct, it would have been done by now.

I'm not looking for a refund of the AA tickets. There was no cost for those (only miles and taxes). In an ideal world, AA would find a way to rebook my reservation, including the PXM leg. That would allow me to use the $500 towards a future Mexicana flight -- the Mexicana flights are non-refundable but are transferable.

Last edited by dstan; Dec 15, 09 at 4:16 pm. Reason: TOS violations redacted
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Old Dec 15, 09, 2:52 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjh00008 View Post
Thanks for your thoughts!
My thought is OP could have saved $500 by following the instructions on the website and calling AA reservations. As others have pointed out, these kind of arrangements can't be done on the website.

That's why it says to contact AA reservations, which wasn't done. I really don't see how that would cause confusion.

But since he didn't, it appears AA did what was requested of them, so did MX, and I don't see any refunds coming out of this.
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Old Dec 15, 09, 3:07 pm   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjh00008 View Post
"No American, American Eagle, or American Connection service is provided between the cities requested. Please contact AAdvantage Reservations for Award opportunities on AAdvantage participating airlines."

to mean:

"We don't fly there. If you want the list of places we fly, you are invited to call 1-800...". There are (intelligent) people who might not think that AA simply doesn't provide the ability to book codeshare flights online. There are people still who might no immediately discern between a codeshare partner city and an "American Airlines" city.

In fact, AA and their codeshare partners profit from people who make the same decisions as me. If it was profitable for them to correct, it would have been done by now.
This is a far-fetch speculation about AA and their codeshare partners profit from people - Why you do not pick up the phone to just call, if the wording is not clear to you?

It is really plain English, even me, that English is not my native language, can understand it perfectly.

How can this sentence of the message:

<<Please contact AAdvantage Reservations for Award opportunities on AAdvantage participating airlines.>>

be interpreted anything else other than - that Participating airlines do fly. Call Us to Find Out More Options (for award redemption.)

There is nothing in that message about "list of places we fly" for any "intelligent people" to make a conclusion as being "invited to call to find that list...

Another far-fetch interpretation to suit the current mind set, that is, AA owes me, my own mistake notwithstanding!

Besides, there are Route Maps right on AA.Com that you can download and look at - the AA's own flights and Codeshare Flights are coded with DIFFERENT COLOURs.

Further more, there are award rules, again, right on AA.Com that you can look at also.

<redacted>

Bottom line, you are out of $500 which could have been avoided - it is an ouch, but it is also caused by your own mistake. Yet you dont want to own up to it but try to make it the fault of AA.

Last edited by dstan; Dec 15, 09 at 4:16 pm. Reason: unnecessary comments redacted
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Old Dec 15, 09, 3:08 pm   #15
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjh00008 View Post
Brp has it essentially correct. If the error message I receive now is the same as it was back in June when I booked then shame on me for not reading it closer and calling AA on the spot. I would like to think that I would have caught that at the time, but it was too long ago to remember precisely what happened at the time.

However, I know I am not the only one who has been tripped up trying to book an AAdvantage award ticket on a oneworld partner. <redacted> Put yourself in the shoes of a casual online booker. <redacted> I'm talking about someone who might interpret the following error message (as it currently reads):

"No American, American Eagle, or American Connection service is provided between the cities requested. Please contact AAdvantage Reservations for Award opportunities on AAdvantage participating airlines."

to mean:

"We don't fly there. If you want the list of places we fly, you are invited to call 1-800...". There are (intelligent) people who might not think that AA simply doesn't provide the ability to book codeshare flights online. There are people still who might no immediately discern between a codeshare partner city and an "American Airlines" city.

In fact, AA and their codeshare partners profit from people who make the same decisions as me. If it was profitable for them to correct, it would have been done by now.

I'm not looking for a refund of the AA tickets. There was no cost for those (only miles and taxes). In an ideal world, AA would find a way to rebook my reservation, including the PXM leg. That would allow me to use the $500 towards a future Mexicana flight -- the Mexicana flights are non-refundable but are transferable.
Take a look at the All Partners Award thread. If award seats are available from MSY to PXM, you could either cancel your award, redeposit your miles and then book the award tickets. (You have 5 days after reserving to book.) Or, since you are not changing the region for either origin or destination, you could simply change your tickets. Either of these involves a fee. I believe redeposit is $125 for the first ticket plus $30 for each additional ticket from the same account. Change fee is $ 150, I think. But check the mentioned thread to be sure.

Last edited by dstan; Dec 15, 09 at 4:17 pm.
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