FAQ: AA Distressed Traveler / Interrupted Trip Policy inc. Hotel

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FAQ: American Airlines Distressed Traveler / Interrupted Trip Policies
including Hotels / accommodation, vouchers and alternative approaches and resources

Q. Uh, oh! It's hitting the fan here! What's next?

Look at the wiki in 2015 AA Travel Notices & Policy, resources etc. (OSO, system IROPS, weather, etc.) if flights are still operating for the AA OSO number and other flight resources. If you're apparently stuck, read on.

Sometimes using other FlyerTalker's advice can save you time - and money. Here's a compendium of FTers' advice and experiences on being stuck overnight at or near an airport because of irregular operations.

Q. When will AA house or reimburse me?

If AA is at fault and admits it, you may be eligible for hotel, transportation and/or meal vouchers during lengthy delays resulting from flight cancellations etc. due to mechanical problems or other issues within the airline's control.

Status and your value to AA as a flyer (think Concierge Key or high Helix score rather than lifetime status made largely with pre-2012 miles) are also a factor in whether you will get accommodated or not, and how likely you are to be reimbursed for alternative arrangements.

AA is unlikely to provide amenities in cases of "force majeure events" - issues beyond its control, such as weather, strikes, etc. See here for definition, in AA's Conditions of Carriage.

N.B. If an agent promises you reimbursement, etc. be sure to have that statement added to your PNR / record. Some members have reported an agent told them they'd be reimbursed but never annotated the PNR and AA did not honor an anonymous agent's statement.

Q. What do I do next?

If widespread IROPS or severe disruptions have occurred, it may be chaotic and there may be queues of clamorous people besieging agents, seeking reaccommodation, lodging, etc.

Be aware the airport hotels may be filling fast, or even full; the same is true for nearby properties with airport shuttle service. Time is of the essence, as is rapid thinking.

Admirals Club and...: If so, your first priority may be to avoid joining the scrum. Is there a nearby Admirals Club? If you're a member or otherwise have access, try them; if you don't have access, in extremis consider a $50 day pass (or $99 one month membership if you're with family or expect further chaos in ensuing days).

Is there an airport reaccommodation desk or phone? Many travelers will overlook these in the frenzied rush to mob that visible ground agent or gate desk.

Your travel agent: If you booked using a travel agent, call them now; this is the test, and worth, of an agent. (An Online Travel Agent, such as Cheapo Air, Expedia or Travelocity may not be as responsive, and PriceLine et al may be good for finding discounted accommodation but is not likely to become involved with finding solutions to your IROPS experience.)

Calling: If you have your phone, try calling AA on your status priority line ("desk", as AA calls it) or CK or Executive Platinum agents. You could get resolution long before you might get a chance to talk to a harried, rushed ground agent.

Preventive action: If you know of the problem whilst you're on the plane, can you make advance arrangements using inflight WiFi? (Post #24)

Q. I want vouchers! What's wrong with that?

Accommodation voucher: If you manage a precious voucher, know it might be to a property that's handy to the airport, or one under contract to AA - featuring low rates for AA, and possibly significant distance, a taxi ride away and back (these may be scarce at such times), poorly staffed, restaurant with limited hours and unknown accommodations. If you know the property, go for it; otherwise, inquire if a known or other property is available; if not, it's a gamble.

Meal and transportation vouchers: Don't forget you may be entitled to these as well; don't expect the meal vouchers to cover expenses for more than basic fast food.

Distressed Traveler voucher: Alternatively, you can often get the airline to issue you a "Distressed Traveler" voucher enabling you to get a discounted rate at the property accepting it. Same issues as above apply.

Q. What other alternatives do I have?

Alternatives will depend on several issues: your ability to pay or get reimbursed. Do you have Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance (annual, for this trip or from a credit card you used to purchase this trip)? Will you client / company rembursement you? Are you consciously "self-insured" (in lieu of paying for insurance, you choose to accept responsibility for paying for these occasional bumps in the road yourself)! Or maybe you've just got enough filthy lucre it's not a worry.

Hotels: You can contact your favorite hotel chain (these may also have status numbers) and inquire which nearby properties can accommodate you. Be sure to ask if they offer an airport shuttle service, offer a distressed traveler rate, to mention discounted rates you qualify for (government, senior, whatever), and don't overlook the possibility of saving money by using your hotel points.

Some other hotel booking possibilities:
  • PriceLine
  • HotWire
  • Your hotel chain app
  • Hotel Tonight app
q. What insurance?

Self-insurance: you realize these things happen, and you choose to pay out of pocket when it does (in lieu of having TCII or a card that covers it)

Annual Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance may be the most cost effective of TCII, with annual limits.

Per trip TCII: These may cost 10-12% of your trip; see www.insuremytrip.com to shop and compare.

Credit card TCI protection: Certain credit cards may offer to reimburse trip interruption and expenses, e.g. Some Chase cards and the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard include TCI insurance.

Q. Ugh! I'm stuck in the airport overnight! Now what?

There are some airports with micro- or capsule hotels; these tend to fill up fast. Other airports offer facilities and seating that will do in a pinch, even deploying stretchers / camp cots with blankets and pillows (e.g. DFW). If these haven't put on an appearance yet, ask. And don't forget the lounges for showers and cleaning up, or inquiring if the airport has shower options.

If all else fails: Guide to Sleeping in Airports. See the 2014 best airports for sleeping here, and the worst (including LGA) here.

This last site lists capsule hotels, etc. at various airports.

You're stuck, but it's not the end of the world. Good luck! And later, come share your experiences and knowledge with us.



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Old Aug 21, 15, 11:16 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2014
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FAQ: AA Distressed Traveler / Interrupted Trip Policy inc. Hotel

Had a busted connection in DFW Thursday. Go to pick up a distressed traveler voucher; takes about twenty minutes. I take a quick look and it says "Blue Cypress Hotel"

I'm like "What the Hell is a 'Blue Cypress Hotel'? Where is it? Where is the shuttle for it?"

AA guy doesn't know, doesn't care. A bunch of folks behind me, I figure how bad can it be; must just be some no name place around the airport.

Nope. AA somehow figured that a random hotel 25 miles away with no airport shuttle was appropriate to send a "distressed traveler" to at 11:30 PM.

Worse than doing nothing. If they'd have just told us we were on our own for lodging as we came off the plane I'd have been a lot better off.

Edit: And for the record I am lifetime Gold on AA.

Last edited by JDiver; Aug 29, 15 at 11:46 am Reason: Restore original post title
George Purcell is offline  
Old Aug 21, 15, 11:21 pm
  #2  
 
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Why didn't you ask for a different hotel? The Hilton Lakes is a pretty nice hotel, and I think the distressed traveler rate was under a hundred when I was there.
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Old Aug 21, 15, 11:24 pm
  #3  
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I asked for something close to the airport (the rebook was at 7 AM). He refused and said "This is what is available." Which was BS; lots of rooms open.

Edit: I also didn't know it was so darn far from the airport--it never crossed my mind that they would send me to a place over 20 miles away.
George Purcell is offline  
Old Aug 22, 15, 12:58 am
  #4  
 
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This is something that seems like a good candidate to automate via the app. It's not that hard to flag a flight as "distressed pax" and then anyone on the flight can just pull up the app, their reservation will already be flagged as "distressed", essentially the distressed voucher is pushed to the pax instead of the pax having to go get a paper one, and participating hotels with distressed rates nearby should just automatically pop up, pax picks one, uses Apple Pay to pay for it, hotel shuttle comes by, pax goes to hotel.

If you think about it, when a flight is distressed, now you have 100s of pax trying to get serviced by an overworked agent making like $14/hr working with an archaic computer system and the agent is probably at the end of their shift and just wants to go home. If even half the pax can just whip out their phones, use the app to book their distressed hotel rate, and be already on their way, then the agent's work is cut in half, waiting times are cut down, and even better, since the flight is flagged as "distressed", the "distress" status can be pushed out to the participating hotels to be ready for an influx of guests.

It's 2015 already and 2016 will be here very soon, stuff like this should already be here and we should not be wasting time waiting in line for an agent to hunt and peck away at a keyboard, especially if what we really need done is something that can easily be done with the app. Even if you say, some pax will still prefer to be helped by a human, people are only getting more and more tech savvier, and today, half the pax would need a human agent's help, next year, only 45% will need to talk to a human, etc.

Imagine how much the airlines can save by making their ground agents way more efficient by offloading mundane tasks to a computer?

I find it really neat that now, when I'm at the airport, I don't even need to pull out my phone anymore at TSA and at the gate. I can do everything I need to do on my watch, and I'm only going to keep using my watch to do those things, the more people seeing these advanced gadgets out there, the more people will eventually see the upsides to them and then, stuff like this will become routine.

Last edited by matrixwalker2012; Aug 22, 15 at 1:04 am
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Old Aug 22, 15, 1:03 am
  #5  
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If the passenger is paying but getting a special price at the hotel, does this cost the airline anything? If not--or perhaps even if it's the same subsidy regardless of the hotel--then there's no reason not to let the passenger pick his/her hotel. People obviously have different preferences, some prefer particular chains, etc.
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Old Aug 22, 15, 5:43 am
  #6  
GB
 
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I stopped waiting for distressed traveler hotel arrangements years ago. Oftentimes the rates are higher than what I can find on my own and I would rather be in full control of where I spend the night.
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Old Aug 22, 15, 7:49 am
  #7  
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Originally Posted by GB View Post
I stopped waiting for distressed traveler hotel arrangements years ago. Oftentimes the rates are higher than what I can find on my own and I would rather be in full control of where I spend the night.
This. Absolutely this!

If half of everyone here is complaining about PDBs, poor food, uncomfortable seating, declining service and lack of customer focus, should we really imagine the cost-restricted desk jockey thinking of these things is working to get us into the airport Grand Hyatt or Hilton? (Rhetorical question - they're trying to come up with more ways of saying "no voucher for you" and finding the cheapest places willing to accept a pittance because people normally avoid these inconvenient duds like a bad case of traveler's diarrhea.)

Airlines often arrange contracts with, shall we say, "needy" or "hungry" hotels that, stupidly, may be distant from the airport and not offer transportation. If one really takes up their offer, request a transportation voucher for a return trip and meal vouchers (but be warned, if the preferred dump has a restaurant, it probably has limited hours).

In my case, if I'm already inconvenienced I have no desire for further B.S. (and ending up in the distant, run down Roach Bates Motel, or as we did once, the dreaded and now rightfully demolished MIA Doubletree Club Dungeon and Sheets) so rather than queuing up with a cast of hundreds mobbing some poor sot with these vouchers, I'm on my phone with the hotel at the airport or of my preferred hotel chain.

I'm requesting a nearby property with shuttle service and a "distressed traveler" rate if that concerns me.

I'm on the shuttle or at my preferred property settling in for the night when half the distressed pax are still in line waiting to see what Dump of the Month Club bed box the airline will favor them with.

If you're on business travel, expense or deduct. If on personal travel, if you didn't buy TCI insurance, in essence and by default you "self-insured". You can always try for airline rembursement later, but frankly it's not much of a hope unless you are a high value traveler (as measured by Helix, not MM status or mid-status via the cheapest deals flights, to be brutally candid here).

It's a lot like drinking my morning juice with these things: they happen, they will eventually happen to me and if I choose to self-insure it's time to suck it up.

Last edited by JDiver; Aug 22, 15 at 8:01 am
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Old Aug 22, 15, 9:19 am
  #8  
 
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This is a great example of when an Admirals Club membership would be worth it
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Old Aug 22, 15, 9:56 am
  #9  
 
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And it's a great example of how one of the benefits of the AA Executive credit card would have come in handy. If you're stranded just book whatever hotel you want and get reimbursed for it and ancillary expenses after the fact. I took advantage of it when my wife and I were stranded at DFW. The claim process was a bit cumbersome but we were fully reimbursed for our expenses.
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Old Aug 22, 15, 10:00 am
  #10  
 
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Hotel Tonight app. Finds last-minute deals where you are. Sorts by price. Use map to determine proximity.
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Old Aug 22, 15, 11:30 am
  #11  
 
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
This. Absolutely this!

If half of everyone here is complaining about PDBs, poor food, uncomfortable seating, declining service and lack of customer focus, should we really imagine the cost-restricted desk jockey thinking of these things is working to get us into the airport Grand Hyatt or Hilton? (Rhetorical question - they're trying to come up with more ways of saying "no voucher for you" and finding the cheapest places willing to accept a pittance because people normally avoid these inconvenient duds like a bad case of traveler's diarrhea.)

Airlines often arrange contracts with, shall we say, "needy" or "hungry" hotels that, stupidly, may be distant from the airport and not offer transportation. If one really takes up their offer, request a transportation voucher for a return trip and meal vouchers (but be warned, if the preferred dump has a restaurant, it probably has limited hours).

In my case, if I'm already inconvenienced I have no desire for further B.S. (and ending up in the distant, run down Roach Bates Motel, or as we did once, the dreaded and now rightfully demolished MIA Doubletree Club Dungeon and Sheets) so rather than queuing up with a cast of hundreds mobbing some poor sot with these vouchers, I'm on my phone with the hotel at the airport or of my preferred hotel chain.

I'm requesting a nearby property with shuttle service and a "distressed traveler" rate if that concerns me.

I'm on the shuttle or at my preferred property settling in for the night when half the distressed pax are still in line waiting to see what Dump of the Month Club bed box the airline will favor them with.

If you're on business travel, expense or deduct. If on personal travel, if you didn't buy TCI insurance, in essence and by default you "self-insured". You can always try for airline rembursement later, but frankly it's not much of a hope unless you are a high value traveler (as measured by Helix, not MM status or mid-status via the cheapest deals flights, to be brutally candid here).

It's a lot like drinking my morning juice with these things: they happen, they will eventually happen to me and if I choose to self-insure it's time to suck it up.
I agree with you however I feel for the foreigners with little command of English traveling on a tight / non-existent budget who simply don't understand how the system works. The airlines attitude to it's self loading freight is appalling in some circumstances.
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Old Aug 22, 15, 11:30 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Danwriter View Post
Hotel Tonight app. Finds last-minute deals where you are. Sorts by price. Use map to determine proximity.
Good idea. The only thing it can't do is tell you if a property offers a distressed traveler rate, but it's worth asking for at the front desk.
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Old Aug 22, 15, 12:12 pm
  #13  
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Oh, I won't make the same mistake again--this time I jumped on the Westin bus and got a government rate and in the future I'll just make an iPhone booking as soon as I know I am dealing with a broken connection/overnight stranding. I don't travel for business much anymore and didn't realize how grim things had gotten in situations like this; in the past it was always a roulette roll on voucher or not with a decent rate at an airport hotel as the consolation prize.

I just think it is unconscionable behavior on the part of AA to actually make travelers in a tough sport worse off under the guise of providing assistance.
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Old Aug 22, 15, 1:46 pm
  #14  
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In most situations the pax would be better off with Hotwire or Priceline in which they can look for a hotel with a shuttle (and maybe free breakfast). I find great last minute airport deals on both sites.
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Old Aug 22, 15, 2:19 pm
  #15  
 
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Originally Posted by George Purcell View Post
Had a busted connection in DFW Thursday. Go to pick up a distressed traveler voucher; takes about twenty minutes. I take a quick look and it says "Blue Cypress Hotel"

I'm like "What the Hell is a 'Blue Cypress Hotel'? Where is it? Where is the shuttle for it?"

AA guy doesn't know, doesn't care. A bunch of folks behind me, I figure how bad can it be; must just be some no name place around the airport.

Nope. AA somehow figured that a random hotel 25 miles away with no airport shuttle was appropriate to send a "distressed traveler" to at 11:30 PM.

Worse than doing nothing. If they'd have just told us we were on our own for lodging as we came off the plane I'd have been a lot better off.

Edit: And for the record I am lifetime Gold on AA.
It's actually in Arlington, just south of I-30, 13.5 miles away. That doesn't necessarily make things better, but '25 miles away' is more dramatic.
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