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Bad Service from AA - No Hotel reimbursement when stranded overnight at JFK

Bad Service from AA - No Hotel reimbursement when stranded overnight at JFK

 
Old Jan 27, 04, 11:37 pm
  #1  
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Bad Service from AA - No Hotel reimbursement when stranded overnight at JFK

On 15 Jan I flew on AA to JFK with the ticket connecting to DCA. My ex-LHR flight should have landed at 2120 with the connection at 2235, a legal connection.
We landed on the tarmac at 2045 but it took until 2150 before we arrived at the gate, including about 30 minutes stuck 100 yards from the gate as they could not locate a tug to move the aircraft on the gate.
After sprinting to immigration I made it to the baggage hall at about 2200. The bags then took nearly an hour to come off the belt.
During this time all AA staff in the baggage hall vanished and calls to the EXP desk for assistance were met with replies like 'We cannot get through to anyone at JFK', 'They won;t hold the flight for you I am afraid'. After about an hour the bags arrived and I went through Customs in less than 60 seconds.
Joining the recheck bag queue, there were about 30 people in front of me and after waiting 45 minutes, during which time NOT ONE PERSON WAS SUCCESSFULLY SERVED by the two people on duty, I gave up. EXP desk rebooked me on the first flight from LGA, but could not find anyone to help with hotels. I therefore booked myself the closest hotel to LGA and go in a taxi with another EXP who was in the same situation.
Now I have applied to AA for a refund of the hotel and taxi and perhaps some bonus miles. The have supplied 20,000 miles but refuse to reimburse the hotel, despite all of the problems being their fault.
A couple of questions -

Is the common for AA?
Is it worth a complaint to the DOT?
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Old Jan 27, 04, 11:53 pm
  #2  
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Guide to compensation
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Old Jan 28, 04, 12:09 am
  #3  
 
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I think anyone at the Department of Transportation would say that although 1:15 is a legal connection time, the virtue of the fact that you had to check those bags again after immigration makes this cutting it really close by any standard. I think anyone at American Airlines feels the same way.

You have to remember, the causes of your delays are hardly the fault of American Airlines. Any combination of wind and air traffic control caused the late touch down (unless there is another reason which you should specify) and the tug is operated by the airport, not the airline.

20,000 miles seems like a very good deal. Especially since, from the sounds of it, there was no way for you to connect to your confirmed flight even if the airline acted with peak efficiency. Writing won't hurt, but I doubt it will yield any success.
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Old Jan 28, 04, 12:36 am
  #4  
 
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">and the tug is operated by the airport, not the airline.
</font>
Really? I did not know that. I thought all the ground crew that service the aircraft (except for the fuel, and food/drink replenishment crews) were AA's own people.
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Old Jan 28, 04, 12:37 am
  #5  
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20,000 miles, even at a minimum value of 1 cent per mile, are worth about $200, and maybe more depending how you use them. Granted you didn't get the cash you wanted, but the miles do have some value. I'd probably still write the letter and enclose a copy of the receipt, and just see what happens. Worst case, you at least have the miles.
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Old Jan 28, 04, 8:41 am
  #6  
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I'm about 99.9% certain that AA does its own ground handling at JFK, meaning that the tug and the baggage handling were AA's problem.

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Old Jan 28, 04, 8:55 am
  #7  
 
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AA did bungle this...but 20,000 miles seems like a very generous compensation.

That said, I agree with tom911...might as well submit the receipts with your story, and see how American responds.

[This message has been edited by snorkmaster (edited Jan 28, 2004).]
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Old Jan 28, 04, 9:10 am
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I have found that the key to reimbursement of costs is to get it put into your trip record while you are still on the trip (not once it is complete - then it is a CS issue and you will need a 777 load of good luck) that you were delayed and that the costs reimbursement is authorised. The EXP desk may do this, but since they are there usually the ticket agents are the best bet. My only experience with hotel comepensation - as opposed to cab service to change airports - has been when they offered me a night at the HoJo in the armpit of hell. No thanks, and hello travel insurance on the credit card. One last thought is that on long re-check lines which I often get going MEL-LAX-JFK, I have more than once gone up the stairs to the arrivals hall and had much better luck at the First class line. There is no magic to the "re-check" line as opposed to the regular check-in line.
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Old Jan 28, 04, 9:24 am
  #9  
 
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Markie:
Is the common for AA?
Is it worth a complaint to the DOT?
</font>
A similar thing happened to me on a PVD-ORD-LAX connection about a year ago.

We arrived at ORD, but sat on the tarmac for nearly an hour. I was in a FC window seat, and could see the gates clearly. Almost all gates were empty, but the captain told us they could not get an arrival gate. I was very nervous, because my LAX flight was departing within the hour.

As I watched out the window, a plane left a gate, and then we went in to the same gate. I asked the gate attendant where my LAX plane was, and she told me it had just left the gate we entered!

In other words, we sat on the tarmac for over an hour, waiting until my connecting flight left our gate, despite the fact that dozens of gates were unoccupied.

The attendant at my gate would not help me. It was almost 10 pm in Chicago; few of the other gates had attendants, and no one would help. So I ran to the Admirals Club, which I believe closed at 10. I seem to remember that I had to bang on the door to get in, but after I explained the situation, the AC agent gave me a hotel voucher.

The next morning, I caught an early LAX flight. As I walked through the terminal, I recognized at least two passengers from my flight the night before, sleeping on benches at the gates! I guess they weren't AC members.

I think the moral is; if you complain loud enough and to the right people, they should comp you a hotel room. And the AC seems to be "the right people."
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Old Jan 28, 04, 10:29 am
  #10  
 
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by PresRDC:
I'm about 99.9% certain that AA does its own ground handling at JFK, meaning that the tug and the baggage handling were AA's problem.</font>
Then I stand corrected!

I still think that the delayed touch down would have prevented the original poster from making the connection even at optimal efficiency. 20,000 miles is a generous offer.
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Old Jan 28, 04, 11:30 am
  #11  
 
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by GoBears:
I think the moral is; if you complain loud enough and to the right people, they should comp you a hotel room. And the AC seems to be "the right people."</font>
I agree completely with this. Thanks to snow, a quick DCA-ORD-BRU return trip this past weekend turned quickly into an IAD-ORD-BRU return and then into an IAD-ORD-BRU-ORD-DCA return that had me needing to then find a ride back to IAD to collect my car. When my BRU-ORD flight arrived, I saw that all flights to IAD had been cancelled. I ran to a gate that had a flight to DCA leaving shortly and was told by the very rude agent there that he could not do anything for me because all flights to the DC area that were not cancelled were completely booked and that I should go get a hotel room for the night. Not liking that answer, I went to the AC (thank you QANTAS Club) and spoke to a very nice agent who offered all sorts of routings, from ORD-DFW-DCA to non-stops into BWI. She was able to find me a seat on the next flight to DCA, which gave me a 3 1/2 hour wait (turned into a 5 1/2 hour wait while AA located a pilot) but at least got me home that night and saved me the hotel cost.

Not being an EXP, I'd have to say that AC agents are able to work magic. One cancelled flight and a 3 1/2 hour wait makes any annual fee seem minor.
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Old Jan 28, 04, 11:42 am
  #12  
 
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by AAlton:
Then I stand corrected!

I still think that the delayed touch down would have prevented the original poster from making the connection even at optimal efficiency. 20,000 miles is a generous offer.
</font>
What delayed touchdown? If the story is accurate, touchdown was 35 minutes before scheduled arrival. How much time is normally alotted for taxi to the gate?

If I ever heard a story that sounds like it deserves a hotel voucher and/or cash compensation, this is it.
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Old Jan 28, 04, 11:57 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Paulo:
What delayed touchdown? If the story is accurate, touchdown was 35 minutes before scheduled arrival. How much time is normally alotted for taxi to the gate?

If I ever heard a story that sounds like it deserves a hotel voucher and/or cash compensation, this is it.
</font>
Again, I stand corrected. Last night, I read tarmac at 2145 instead of 2045. Serves me right for surfing FlyerTalk as a cure for insomnia.

[This message has been edited by AAlton (edited Jan 28, 2004).]
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Old Jan 28, 04, 1:13 pm
  #14  
 
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Markie:

Now I have applied to AA for a refund of the hotel and taxi and perhaps some bonus miles. The have supplied 20,000 miles but refuse to reimburse the hotel, despite all of the problems being their fault.

Is it worth a complaint to the DOT?
</font>
ridiculous. 20000 miles is practically a transatlantic upgrade (is, r/t even, on J/Y/B) and in any event should be worth well over $1000 if redeemed sensibly. How is that not more than generous in payment for one lousy hotel night bill?

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Old Jan 28, 04, 2:06 pm
  #15  
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20,000 Miles is a very good compensation (convert to 40,000 HHonors points), 5000 more required for a free systemwide upgrade, or use an AAdvantage CitiCard promo code for a free domestic RT at 20,000 AA Miles. The taxi was the user's own choosing. There are shuttles to LGA.

However, I *do* wonder how many FF Miles AA will dish out in the long run until they realise a complete reshuffle and training of their near entire JFK staff is in order. My biggest fear is always certain. An EXP being stranded through AA with no help, unlike what CX will do for me as an OW Emerald if a similar situation occured.

Expect this service while concession wages and low morale continue in certain areas (not all areas).
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