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AA bumps teacher chaperoning middle school field trip

AA bumps teacher chaperoning middle school field trip

Old Apr 12, 19, 1:51 pm
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AA bumps teacher chaperoning middle school field trip

Last week, an American studies teacher in a magnet school was bumped from an AA DCA-MSP flight. He and one other adult were serving as the only chaperones for a group of sixteen students, aged 11 to 14. The AA GA seems to have been aware of the group's situation as he was called to the podium as "Chaperone Westpfahl" to apologetically be told that he had been "randomly selected" to be taken off the overbooked flight.

A halfhearted call for volunteers not mentioning the student group's situation did not result in anyone offering to stay overnight and take the next morning's flight.

AA gave him a hotel room and a voucher (not money), reportedly for $525.

The AA computer system apparently indicates that this was a VDB rather than an IDB.

ADDED: I personally composed this post myself. It is not a quote from any media source, online or otherwise. I wrote it after first attempting to verify that the incident had not previously been discussed on FT and placed it in the AA forum as this seemed to be appropriate. My post is a summary, in my own words, of material from various Twin Cities media as well as some personal discussions I've had with others (although I will not give names of other people with whom I have discussed this topic in casual conversations as doing so might compromise my identity). The story seems to generally be circulating around the Twin Cities and does not appear to be "fake news" although not all of the details are clear.

Media sources include local TV news coverage (programs today from among KSTP, WCCO, KMSP, KARE11, and KFTC/9+) that I caught briefly (heard) today while multitasking and an article that I skimmed in the print edition of the StarTribune, April 12, 2019. I know from personal observation that these sources tend to update/expand/enhance/correct their coverage at irregular intervals, so I have no way to document the precise version of the news coverage that I may have seen. All of these are live TV broadcasts and, for example, if a story is repeated several times in the course of morning coverage, the reporters and anchors tend to use somewhat different words each time, with no indication of which version is posted on the station websites when/if a videoclip does appear and similarly, for articles posted in words, there is no attempt to make the words absolutely identical to what was said during the live broadcast.

DISCLOSURE: I do not know the teacher/chaperone who was bumped, nor do I know the other chaperone (who AFAIK has not been publicly identified), any of the students, their parents, or any staff and/or officials from the school. Indeed, AFAIK I have never met any employees of Republic Airlines. The only AA employees I have ever met were executives who participated in some FT DOs and similar events, although I did know some TWA employees long ago.

Last edited by MSPeconomist; Apr 13, 19 at 12:13 am
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Old Apr 12, 19, 2:00 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Last week, an American studies teacher in a magnet school was bumped from an AA DCA-MSP flight. He and one other adult were serving as the only chaperones for a group of sixteen students, aged 11 to 14. The AA GA seems to have been aware of the group's situation as he was called to the podium as "Chaperone Westpfahl" to apologetically be told that he had been "randomly selected" to be taken off the overbooked flight.

A halfhearted call for volunteers not mentioning the student group's situation did not result in anyone offering to stay overnight and take the next morning's flight.

AA gave him a hotel room and a voucher (not money), reportedly for $525.

The AA computer system apparently indicates that this was a VDB rather than an IDB.
Thatís pretty disgusting. They probably told him he had no choice, but entered it in as a VDB.
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Old Apr 12, 19, 2:15 pm
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Originally Posted by Jaimito Cartero View Post

That’s pretty disgusting. They probably told him he had no choice, but entered it in as a VDB.
Part of the concern was that he was carrying medications for some students with health issues. It's not clear that the other chaperone would have known what to do.

Fortunately nothing happened and the flight didn't divert etc. as it would be an uncomfortable situation for the kids to be stuck somewhere with only one chaperone.

ADDED: These are my words. Nothing in my post is a quote.

Last edited by MSPeconomist; Apr 13, 19 at 12:37 am
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Old Apr 12, 19, 2:42 pm
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https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ds-flight.html

"However, airline officials claim the teacher volunteered to be bumped - and was compensated for not taking the flight."
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Old Apr 12, 19, 2:48 pm
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Protip for AA PR department. Nobody believes you when you say the guy volunteered. Most of the country isn't as stupid as PR people believe.

Just apologize and get Doug Parker to come on record to say he will review policies for overbooked flights that have groups of kids.
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Old Apr 12, 19, 3:46 pm
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I guess one moral of this story is that if you get called up the gate on flight that's overbooked, have your phone out and start recording. Sad that it's come to that.

Last edited by DCAFly; Apr 12, 19 at 3:46 pm Reason: typo
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Old Apr 12, 19, 3:51 pm
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Originally Posted by davie355 View Post
Protip for AA PR department. Nobody believes you when you say the guy volunteered. Most of the country isn't as stupid as PR people believe.

Just apologize and get Doug Parker to come on record to say he will review policies for overbooked flights that have groups of kids.
Thing is, these days it doesn't matter whether it's unbelievable or not. Every media outlet will simply print their response without comment. AA could have said "We did it because the world is flat" and that would have been dutifully printed without comment. They could have said "No we didn't!" Same deal.
What PR flaks know is there are always people who will take their side. No matter what. Always.
How long will it be before the "well there must be two sides to this story" apologist posts appear?
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Old Apr 12, 19, 3:54 pm
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AA certainly prefers that its IDB stats look low and the GA might also have a more direct incentive to use VDBs rather than IDBs. I could imagine a GA just deciding to call an IDB a VDB instead, and I could also envision a GA trying to convince a passenger who has been IDBed that the compensation for a VDB would be better for the same result, namely the customer not being on the flight.

If someone doesn't travel often or doesn't know AA policies, it would be easy for that customer to be intimidated at the gate.

I wonder whether the field trip tickets were booked as a group, whether parents were told to just book their kids' tickets on these particular flights themselves, or whether there were several PNRs. If either it was officially a group booking or if there were adults and kids together on a PNR, this should have flagged the situation so that AA would have found someone else to bump. It's not obvious to me that the school necessarily would have used a travel agent experienced in booking group travel for schools. ADDED: The teacher had $472 RT ticket in basic economy.

ADDED: It seems to have been AA 4502 operated by Republic, with scheduled departure 10:00 pm from DCA, normally scheduled to arrive into MSP at 11:50 pm. On Friday April 5, it was a couple hours late. Flightaware shows an Embraer 175 with no obvious aircraft change to a smaller flight. The other nonstop is very early in the morning and none of the articles mention a sole chaperone managing a connection at some AA hub, so I'm tempted to asssume that this was the flight, although it seems awfully late for middle school kids, and rather inconvenient for parents who must retrieve them at the airport after midnight. [The other nonstop, also a Republic ERC=175, is scheduled for the morning, so the teacher shouldn't have still been at DCA airport at 11 pm sending emails to the parents of his kids.]

ADDED: Nothing here is a quote; these are my words and my opinions. The $472 ticket cost has been reported in various sources without attribution or citation. I looked at google flights, the AA website, and flightaware myself to do this "research" and I supplied the logic in reaching my conclusion regarding what flight the students took.

Last edited by MSPeconomist; Apr 13, 19 at 12:41 am
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Old Apr 12, 19, 3:57 pm
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Originally Posted by davie355 View Post
Protip for AA PR department. Nobody believes you when you say the guy volunteered. Most of the country isn't as stupid as PR people believe.

Just apologize and get Doug Parker to come on record to say he will review policies for overbooked flights that have groups of kids.
This angers me more than the fact that they bumped him. How obnoxious can AA be? Hope someone helps this guy out and he gets proper IDB compensation. Unreal what GAs get away with.

Last edited by aztimm; Apr 12, 19 at 4:30 pm Reason: FT Rule 12.1
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Old Apr 12, 19, 4:16 pm
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Something is not right here - at first I was thinking the gate AAgent used deceptive language making him think he was IDB but was actually VDB.

What probably happened is they corralled him, and the flight door closed BEFORE he could explain that he was a chaperone etc.
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Old Apr 12, 19, 4:35 pm
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There is a fox news version of the story that can be found via Google search.

Also one thing to note, which doesn't help clarify whether this truly was voluntary or involuntary, but in their response to the customer they stated that it was due to an aircraft change, which according to the dot website, precludes them from having to give idb compensation, correct?

Also if it were idb, aren't they supposed to give him documentation explaining his rights in that scenario?

Last edited by genotonda; Apr 12, 19 at 7:25 pm
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Old Apr 12, 19, 4:38 pm
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Link to Minneapolis Star Tribune: St. Paul teacher says airline bumped him from flight home with 16 middle-schoolers - StarTribune.com
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Old Apr 12, 19, 5:03 pm
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Originally Posted by AAdamE View Post
Something is not right here - at first I was thinking the gate AAgent used deceptive language making him think he was IDB but was actually VDB.

What probably happened is they corralled him, and the flight door closed BEFORE he could explain that he was a chaperone etc.
.....and before he could give the documents and medications to the other chaperone.

A blogger is claiming that IDB comp at 400% should have been 4 X $472/2 = $944, but I think the USA IDB rules require subtraction of taxes and fees first. Of course, this also assumes that the fare was the same in both directions, and that might be true for basic economy fares. The teacher reportedly had a basic economy RT ticket that cost $472 and was given a $525 voucher by AA.

Does AA use their own employees as GAs at DCA for Republic operated flights? Or would the GA have been a Republic employee or an airport contract worker?
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Old Apr 12, 19, 5:07 pm
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OK folks, I've seen several violations of the FT rules, specifically these:

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Old Apr 12, 19, 5:26 pm
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Why is this news? The dude clearly signed something for this to have occurred and he's a teacher so I'm not sure how AA "got one on him." I'm 32 and pretty chill, but seriously, is there literally no personal responsibility expected out of people in public anymore?
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