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Terrible Experience at LAX, Unable to Apply Upgrades, Told to Take Another Flight

Terrible Experience at LAX, Unable to Apply Upgrades, Told to Take Another Flight

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Old Jun 10, 19, 9:06 pm
  #1  
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Terrible Experience at LAX, Unable to Apply Upgrades, Told to Take Another Flight

Wanted to post about my recent experience:




One-hundred hours before my flight today, my travel companion and I got upgraded to business class from economy. My companion is traveling on a separate PNR and does not have elite status, because my companion and I got upgraded and I didn’t have any remaining 500 mile upgrades in my account, I purchased them two days before. I tried to check both of us in online 24 hours before traveling but got an error that there were not enough 500 mile upgrades in my account, despite the fact that I could see them in my account.




I contacted the executive platinum desk and had to wait on hold more than an hour and a half, once the representative came on the line, she looked into it and said that I did have enough upgrades in my account and that I should get the airport staff to fix the issue. I also contacted the twitter team who also told me to go to the airport.




My companion and I got to the airport more than 2 hours before the scheduled departure time. We waited in the priority line, but by the time a supervisor got to the desk to try to fix the issue, it was less than 45 minutes beginning the scheduled departure time.




They told us that we wouldn’t be able to check our bags but that they could put us on standby for a later flight, which, they noted was sold out. Extremely agitated I started calling the executive platinum desk, as I was on hold, I noticed that there was a delay on our flight, because of the delay they finally let us check the bags but refused to check my companion in, they said he got to the airport too late and it wasn’t their problem.




I asked for a gate pass to see if they could fix it at the lounge, but they refused. We made our way to the secure side of the airport using methodology I’m not going to discuss in a public forum, we finally made our way to the flagship lounge and they were able to check my companion in, but they said they had to charge me for the upgrades again. I just wrote into AA asking for a refund. The flight departed 50 minutes late.
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Old Jun 10, 19, 9:33 pm
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Old Jun 10, 19, 9:45 pm
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Summer travel season + LAX traffic outside and airside = get to the airport 3 hours before departure, especially if you are checking bags.
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Old Jun 11, 19, 12:34 am
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Originally Posted by donotblink View Post
Wanted to post about my recent experience:




One-hundred hours before my flight today, my travel companion and I got upgraded to business class from economy. My companion is traveling on a separate PNR and does not have elite status, because my companion and I got upgraded and I didn’t have any remaining 500 mile upgrades in my account, I purchased them two days before. I tried to check both of us in online 24 hours before traveling but got an error that there were not enough 500 mile upgrades in my account, despite the fact that I could see them in my account.




I contacted the executive platinum desk and had to wait on hold more than an hour and a half, once the representative came on the line, she looked into it and said that I did have enough upgrades in my account and that I should get the airport staff to fix the issue. I also contacted the twitter team who also told me to go to the airport.




My companion and I got to the airport more than 2 hours before the scheduled departure time. We waited in the priority line, but by the time a supervisor got to the desk to try to fix the issue, it was less than 45 minutes beginning the scheduled departure time.




They told us that we wouldn’t be able to check our bags but that they could put us on standby for a later flight, which, they noted was sold out. Extremely agitated I started calling the executive platinum desk, as I was on hold, I noticed that there was a delay on our flight, because of the delay they finally let us check the bags but refused to check my companion in, they said he got to the airport too late and it wasn’t their problem.




I asked for a gate pass to see if they could fix it at the lounge, but they refused. We made our way to the secure side of the airport using methodology I’m not going to discuss in a public forum, we finally made our way to the flagship lounge and they were able to check my companion in, but they said they had to charge me for the upgrades again. I just wrote into AA asking for a refund. The flight departed 50 minutes late.
going for greAAt! Man would I have been livid...
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Old Jun 11, 19, 1:00 am
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I think I'm usually pretty sympathetic (more so than some or even many on this forum), but I fail to see what part of your situation was AA's fault. If I am understanding your account correctly, your upgrade cleared 100 hours before the flight, but you didn't purchase the necessary upgrades until ~48 hours before your flight. In other words, you didn't have the required sticker upgrades in your account when the upgrade cleared (i.e., you wanted to see if your upgrade cleared before purchasing the necessary stickers). To make matters even more complicated, your companion was on a separate PNR. This—unsurprisingly, I think—would cause issues when you tried to check your companion in.

Then, knowing that you had an issue with your reservation(s) and knowing that it's a busy summer travel season, you arrived at the airport barely within the recommended time before departure (admittedly, maybe AA should tell people to arrive at the airport even earlier in the summer, but I'm not sure it's AA fault that the airports are busier than normal). In any event, I don't see how it's AA's problem that you arrived later than you should have.

I think it's unfortunate what happened to you, but I also think you gambled by not having the upgrades in your account at the upgrade window. In this case your gamble didn't pay off.
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Old Jun 11, 19, 2:19 am
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
I think I'm usually pretty sympathetic (more so than some or even many on this forum), but I fail to see what part of your situation was AA's fault. If I am understanding your account correctly, your upgrade cleared 100 hours before the flight, but you didn't purchase the necessary upgrades until ~48 hours before your flight. In other words, you didn't have the required sticker upgrades in your account when the upgrade cleared (i.e., you wanted to see if your upgrade cleared before purchasing the necessary stickers). To make matters even more complicated, your companion was on a separate PNR. This—unsurprisingly, I think—would cause issues when you tried to check your companion in.

Then, knowing that you had an issue with your reservation(s) and knowing that it's a busy summer travel season, you arrived at the airport barely within the recommended time before departure (admittedly, maybe AA should tell people to arrive at the airport even earlier in the summer, but I'm not sure it's AA fault that the airports are busier than normal). In any event, I don't see how it's AA's problem that you arrived later than you should have.

I think it's unfortunate what happened to you, but I also think you gambled by not having the upgrades in your account at the upgrade window. In this case your gamble didn't pay off.
??? Upgrades are required at check-in, not at the time the time the upgrade clears. I think showing up at 2:30 for a 4:30 flight when you are supposed to have priority access is quite reasonable.
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Old Jun 11, 19, 2:33 am
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Originally Posted by donotblink View Post
??? Upgrades are required at check-in, not at the time the time the upgrade clears. I think showing up at 2:30 for a 4:30 flight when you are supposed to have priority access is quite reasonable.
Not when you're having an issue. No matter how small, what's another hour honestly?
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Old Jun 11, 19, 3:51 am
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Originally Posted by donotblink View Post
??? Upgrades are required at check-in, not at the time the time the upgrade clears. I think showing up at 2:30 for a 4:30 flight when you are supposed to have priority access is quite reasonable.
My understanding is that if your upgrade doesn't clear in advance, you can be placed on the airport upgrade list, and if you don't have enough stickers in your account, then you will be prompted to purchase the needed stickers at check in. Stickers are not actually deducted until time of travel. I don't take these rules to mean necessarily that you can purchase the upgrades after a companion upgrade (on a separate PNR) has cleared and expect no issues at check in. Of course, I don't deny that had you waited until check in to purchase the needed stickers you might have encountered less difficulty, but the fact that AA allows you to purchase the missing stickers at check in doesn't mean AA is to blame for your difficulties arising from the fact that you (knowingly, and I would guess intentionally) didn't have enough stickers in your account when the upgrade actually cleared for your companion. Relatedly, as you were waiting in line and seeing your time run out, couldn't you have just purchased the (extra) stickers and checked in, and dealt with the issue after your flight? At worst, you would have extra stickers to use later (and isn't that how it's really supposed to work?).

I don't disagree that under normal circumstances arriving two hours early for a domestic flight is reasonable, but in this instance you were reasonably mistaken. I don't see why your reasonable mistake means AA is somehow at fault. As an aside, my experience has been that sometimes the non-priority check in lanes move faster—not only are there often fewer agents handling the priority lanes, but the people in the priority lanes may have more luggage and/or issues for the agent to deal with.
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Last edited by flyingeph12; Jun 11, 19 at 3:58 am
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Old Jun 11, 19, 5:01 am
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
...I don't take these rules to mean necessarily that you can purchase the upgrades after a companion upgrade (on a separate PNR) has cleared and expect no issues at check in. Of course, I don't deny that had you waited until check in to purchase the needed stickers you might have encountered less difficulty, but the fact that AA allows you to purchase the missing stickers at check in doesn't mean AA is to blame for your difficulties arising from the fact that you (knowingly, and I would guess intentionally) didn't have enough stickers in your account when the upgrade actually cleared for your companion. Relatedly, as you were waiting in line and seeing your time run out, couldn't you have just purchased the (extra) stickers and checked in, and dealt with the issue after your flight? At worst, you would have extra stickers to use later (and isn't that how it's really supposed to work?).

I don't disagree that under normal circumstances arriving two hours early for a domestic flight is reasonable, but in this instance you were reasonably mistaken. I don't see why your reasonable mistake means AA is somehow at fault. As an aside, my experience has been that sometimes the non-priority check in lanes move faster—not only are there often fewer agents handling the priority lanes, but the people in the priority lanes may have more luggage and/or issues for the agent to deal with.
All that matters is that the stickers are in your account at the time of check-in. The fact that the OP purchased the stickers after the upgrade cleared is irrelevant.

That said, I fly with separate PNR companions frequently and there are seemingly always issues at check-in for the companion when upgrading. AA's computers always get confused and try to pull stickers from the companions account, etc. Its an easy fix for an airport agent but you do frequently have to check-in with an agent, irrespective of how many stickers you have or if you bought them before or after the upgrades clear, etc.

It's easy to play Monday morning QB and say "you should've arrived earlier" however I'm with the OP on this one, arriving 2 hrs before should be plenty as an EXP in business, even with an (easy) issue to sort out. Sounds like LAX was a zoo.
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Old Jun 11, 19, 5:41 am
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Even as a lowly GLD, for a domestic flight with checked bags, I aim to arrive 1:15 before departure; that gives a half hour buffer in case of unforseen problems. And I've never missed bag cut off.

The surprise to me in the OP is arrival 2:00 in advance, and the issue still not resolved at 0:45. Was there an unusually long line at the check in counter, or did it take the agents way too long to attempt to resolve it? I've neber waited anywhere close to an hour at a priority check in counter.

The only hindsight/criticism I have here is that I'd have been mindful of the 0:45 cutoff, and if they had been trying unsuccessfully to get me checked in for a half hour or longer, with the cutoff approaching, I'd have given up on the upgrade and asked them to check in to coach if needed.

The good news is you ended up on your original flight in your upgraded seats. If AA doesn't want to refund the extra purchased upgrades, they'll remain available for your next trip with a companion.
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Old Jun 11, 19, 5:43 am
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Originally Posted by JJeffrey View Post
All that matters is that the stickers are in your account at the time of check-in. The fact that the OP purchased the stickers after the upgrade cleared is irrelevant.

That said, I fly with separate PNR companions frequently and there are seemingly always issues at check-in for the companion when upgrading. AA's computers always get confused and try to pull stickers from the companions account, etc. Its an easy fix for an airport agent but you do frequently have to check-in with an agent, irrespective of how many stickers you have or if you bought them before or after the upgrades clear, etc.

It's easy to play Monday morning QB and say "you should've arrived earlier" however I'm with the OP on this one, arriving 2 hrs before should be plenty as an EXP in business, even with an (easy) issue to sort out. Sounds like LAX was a zoo.
If it is the case that upgrading companions on separate PNRs usually causes issues at check in no matter how many upgrades the sponsor has in their account, then that is an issue on AA. However, irrelevant though it may be to you and others, I still think there is a reasonable difference in terms of expecting things to go wrong when you have the required number of upgrades in your account at the time the upgrade occurs versus when you don’t.

As for Monday QB’ing, I am not saying OP should have gotten to the airport earlier. I think 2 hours is generally reasonable. But I don’t see how it’s AA’s fault that OP’s reasonable actions turned out to be unreasonable in this particular circumstance. To me, this is a learning lesson, not an instance that justifies demanding AA somehow pay.

But hey, I am glad OP has supporters, even if I am not one of them.
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Old Jun 11, 19, 5:52 am
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I would think 2 hours out with Priority Check in would be plenty of time to sort through the issue. It was a domestic flight. Ought not to be this hard.
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Old Jun 11, 19, 5:57 am
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It appears that OP was there 2 hours prior to departure, but that the companion arrived after T-45 and thus blew the deadline.
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Old Jun 11, 19, 6:10 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
It appears that OP was there 2 hours prior to departure, but that the companion arrived after T-45 and thus blew the deadline.
OP's post seems to suggest that OP and the companion arrived together, but maybe there's room for interpretation. Waiting 75 minutes in the priority line does seem well out of the norm. OP's cryptic statement about the "methodology" for getting past security also seems . . . suspect, at least to me.
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Old Jun 11, 19, 7:16 am
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I arrived at the airport with my companion in the same Lyft.
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