AA Oversells AA76, Strands 27 8th Graders at LAX

 
Old Apr 2, 13, 11:14 am
  #46  
 
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What I surprised about is that no one at the gate volunteered when they realized what was going down. I would like to think that I would inconvenience myself to avoid the distress of splitting the party. Since the scheduled arrival time was 5pm at IAD, I'm guessing that not too many people would be missing business meetings by taking a delay. So either the situation wasn't obvious at the gate or no one stepped up.

I'm thinking (adding to the gross speculation in this thread) that the GA hadn't identified that the IDBs would be part of the group ahead of time, and it was only after the flight had boarded when the number of IDB pax needed was confirmed that s/he realized the issue.
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Old Apr 2, 13, 11:21 am
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Obviously the best economic decision for AA would have been to IDB 6 other passengers, in terms of the re-accommodation costs they're now incurring and the bad PR. But I guess this GA couldn't see the forest through the trees.
So you would be ok with being IDB out of turn? What if you had somewhere important to be and therefore took the appropriate steps to secure a seat and therefore put yourself in a better position to avoid it? If no one volunteered, it might be because they had places to be.

There are times where I would be willing to give up my seat for a group and there are times where I cannot. The onus of that decision should follow some priority, not the GA's feelings on the subject.
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Old Apr 2, 13, 11:40 am
  #48  
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There may be airlines where passengers without seat assignments are more vulnerable to IDB, but AA is not one of them. Absence of a seat assignment is not a factor considered by AA.

AA says that check-in time is the primary criteria, with the other factors (hardship, fare paid and AA status) also considered.

I'm guessing that none of them had status, they may have paid the lowest fares on the plane (probably via a group rate) and it's conceivable that they were the last passengers to check in.

It was also a very heavy travel day, as was the day before (Easter Sunday).

And it looks like a chain of errors by too many adults resulting in a shortened trip to DC. Those kids deserved better.
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Old Apr 2, 13, 11:41 am
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as posted above, don't the rules give GAs flexibility to consider "hardships" and other factors for determining IDBs?
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Old Apr 2, 13, 11:46 am
  #50  
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Originally Posted by norf9 View Post
It's cheaping out because anyone who has flown before knows that if you don't have a seat, you are the first one to be booted if there's an issue. This is compounded by the fact that he had no contingency plan if the flight was cancelled. There is no chance what so ever that you will be able to get 27 standby passengers on the same flight. When traveling with 27 underage students it is the height of irresponsibility to not have a backup plan if the flight was cancelled, or something else went wrong.

What is unfair is booting other people off the flight because the principle was irresponsible.
Absurd. The rules vary from airline to airline, and not all airlines use seat assignments to determine who gets IDB'd. In fact, United's rules specifically allow a gate agent to put groups ahead of others when not doing so would cause a hardship.

AA almost certainly could have gotten six other pax to their destinations via different flights that landed fairly close to the original arrival time. That is not true for a group of 27 children. This is a case where an AAgent just screwed up by not using a little common sense (unless there is more to this story, which is possible).
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Old Apr 2, 13, 11:50 am
  #51  
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Originally Posted by rxziebel View Post
Stop for a moment before you post and think about how you would feel if you son or daughter was in this situation. For days, they have been talking non-stop about the big adventure and counting down the minutes until the trip. Just to be told that they are not going any longer and have to go home.

Have we become so cold-hearted here on FT that disappointed children become acceptable because AA followed "procedure"? If so, then how sad.
My son or daughter would already be EXP. They would already know how to get themselves to DC, and upgrade themselves to boot. Earning the maximum number of miles possible.
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Old Apr 2, 13, 12:03 pm
  #52  
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Originally Posted by LAXative View Post
My son or daughter would already be EXP. They would already know how to get themselves to DC, and upgrade themselves to boot. Earning the maximum number of miles possible.
I'm glad for you that you have the resources to do that. According to the article, this was the first trip on an airplane for at least some of these kids and they had been saving for a year to go. I'm thinking that they might not be as airline-savvy as the average FTer.

Can somebody please show me where it says that the kids didn't have seat assignments? I saw somebody made an assumption in one of the early posts, but I never saw where, in the article or otherwise, that they didn't have seats. In fact, in the original video, at 0:52, you can clearly see a seat assignment on one kid's boarding pass.

I do not believe that the GA told the principal right off the bat that the six kids remaining behind would have to pay for six more tickets. I have no doubt that there was some miscommunication there. Of course, this is LAX, and I've had my fair share of "fun" there...

Truthfully, I think the GA was stuck between a rock and a hard spot. I don't know how hard they tried to solicit volunteers, but I hope they tried like h*ll, because this was a tough situation to be in. For some reason, six students were picked to be IBD'ed. I wouldn't want to be one of them, but I also wouldn't want to be the one IBD'ed if the GA said, "Well, we picked you because we wanted to keep the group together." Actually, I'd love it, since the comp would be great, but there might actually be people who needed to be somewhere on-time. Bottom line: Glad I wasn't the GA.

I do believe that the GA told them afterward that if they wanted to stay together (a perfectly rational decision on the part of the group, IMO) that they would have to buy all new tickets.

Seriously, people, let's not blame the group here. Not everyone in the world is a FTer.

Mike
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Old Apr 2, 13, 12:25 pm
  #53  
 
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Originally Posted by mikeef View Post
Truthfully, I think the GA was stuck between a rock and a hard spot. I don't know how hard they tried to solicit volunteers, but I hope they tried like h*ll, because this was a tough situation to be in. For some reason, six students were picked to be IBD'ed. I wouldn't want to be one of them, but I also wouldn't want to be the one IBD'ed if the GA said, "Well, we picked you because we wanted to keep the group together." Actually, I'd love it, since the comp would be great, but there might actually be people who needed to be somewhere on-time. Bottom line: Glad I wasn't the GA.
To me this is simple. You have a principal whose job is to supervise a group of minors. Based on whatever "legal" requirements of him, he had to refuse to board. So you try to split 6 kids away, or if you don't succeed, you end up with 21 empty seats on a busy day. At this point, all IDB/VDB priorities are thrown out of consideration. As long as the plane's door remains open, you choose 6 people and throw THEM off the plane--onto a later flight or two or three or six. You can send 6 people to as many flights needed, but you can't send 27 to any one flight with such short notice. Anything short of "my mother is dying in Lubbock" is not legitimate protection from being ordered off your seat and the flight.
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Old Apr 2, 13, 12:30 pm
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My question is why didn't AA's group desk just seat them in the first place? The group desk can override the preferred seat fee for that large of a group.
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Old Apr 2, 13, 12:32 pm
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Thumbs down

Originally Posted by sts603 View Post
But skipping over the last to check in passengers without seat assignments to IDB someone else goes against AA's protocol.
Originally Posted by Antarius View Post
Further, once ticketed the only options were to IDB pax with seats or IDB those without seats. AA chose to follow policy.
Originally Posted by FWAAA View Post
There may be airlines where passengers without seat assignments are more vulnerable to IDB, but AA is not one of them. Absence of a seat assignment is not a factor considered by AA.

AA says that check-in time is the primary criteria, with the other factors (hardship, fare paid and AA status) also considered.
So FTers expect 8th graders and school principals to be experts at IDB policy, when FTers themselves can't figure out what the policy is.

Shame on us for our contempt for our fellows.
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Old Apr 2, 13, 12:37 pm
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Originally Posted by radarskiy View Post
So FTers expect 8th graders and school principals to be experts at IDB policy, when FTers themselves can't figure out what the policy is.

Shame on us for our contempt for our fellows.
You are miscontrsuing what at least I intended to say. All I'm saying is that AA has a protocol for IDBs. Whether an individual person or not is aware of it is irrelevant. The point is that it should be followed consistently - especially given that those who know of it may act upon it (e.g., checking at T-24 when they don't have a seat assignment). Whether the actual parties involved acted because of it or not is irrelevant. The point is that the school kids were apparently first on the list to be IDBed based on the policy and it is unfair to the next six passengers who would have been IDBed for AA to have made a judgment call and IDBed them instead. If those passengers wanted to help, they would have accepted the VDB. (N.B., the next six could well have been full fare non-status business passengers who bought the last seats on the plane where there were no seats available for assignment).
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Old Apr 2, 13, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by ak333 View Post
My question is why didn't AA's group desk just seat them in the first place? The group desk can override the preferred seat fee for that large of a group.
This is a serious oversight by the group travel desk. In the gate agent's defence, SABRE lists passengers as OSs (oversales) when there are no unblocked seats avaliable for assignment. Therefore, the gate agents process the OSs in the order that SABRE has put in the PALL list (which, for OSs, is assigned by check-in time). So we do know that they were relatively late in checking-in. It also explains how 6 of THEM got kicked off the flight.

I do wonder whether they checked in with an agent or at a kiosk, as an agent can unblock Z-block seats) and clear them from the OS list in the PALL list manually. The kiosks will simply put them into seats until there is no more unblocked seats and list the rest as OSs.

For the record; We have always been told to clear the OS list in the order that it appears in the PALL list. OSs can be imputted into SABRE as OS1 (EMR), OS2 (SAP) and OS3 (RUBY) and appear in that order. So in theory, the airline protects its FFers before non-status pax.

Difficult sitation by the sound of it. I do have to say that the agent did follow the technical rules however by the sound of it.
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Old Apr 2, 13, 12:49 pm
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Originally Posted by ak333 View Post
My question is why didn't AA's group desk just seat them in the first place? The group desk can override the preferred seat fee for that large of a group.
That costs AA $$$. I think its safe to assume that these tickets were at relatively low rates.
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Old Apr 2, 13, 12:54 pm
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Originally Posted by sts603 View Post
You are miscontrsuing what at least I intended to say. All I'm saying is that AA has a protocol for IDBs. Whether an individual person or not is aware of it is irrelevant. The point is that it should be followed consistently - especially given that those who know of it may act upon it (e.g., checking at T-24 when they don't have a seat assignment). Whether the actual parties involved acted because of it or not is irrelevant. The point is that the school kids were apparently first on the list to be IDBed based on the policy and it is unfair to the next six passengers who would have been IDBed for AA to have made a judgment call and IDBed them instead. If those passengers wanted to help, they would have accepted the VDB. (N.B., the next six could well have been full fare non-status business passengers who bought the last seats on the plane where there were no seats available for assignment).
This.

As for
Anything short of "my mother is dying in Lubbock" is not legitimate protection from being ordered off your seat and the flight.
This is why I think a policy is necessary. Why should a GA get to prioritize peoples importance? What if you need to be somewhere for an interview (that cannot be rescheduled) to make more money to take care of an ill family member? You get to tell them that they can't go because you FEEL that their reason isn't important enough?
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Old Apr 2, 13, 1:09 pm
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When our kids were in middle school, they had the opportunity to visit the east coast, Wash DC on educational trips; in EVERY case, the school used a travel agency, experienced in group travel for kids, who worked such details to prevent such outcomes. The subject situation is unfortunate, but this is what happens when well meaning people take on tasks and responsibilities they do not understand.

Sounds like this entire trip was an accident waiting to happen, fortunate that they were stuck at LAX, within driving distance of their parents, rather than an undesirable area of DC, without the sophistication, resources to prevent something much worse from occuring.
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