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IDB or not IDB: that is the question (VDB, conditions not honored)

IDB or not IDB: that is the question (VDB, conditions not honored)

Old Jan 15, 20, 9:05 am
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IDB or not IDB: that is the question (VDB, conditions not honored)

My SO and kid were on an award booking CUN-CLT-LHR and at the boarding gate were offered to volunteer to go on later flight via DFW for vouchers and accepted. The GA asked them to wait near the gate till he gets the flight off and then will handle the paperwork. After the flight left he gave them the vouchers and said he cannot now get them the DFW flight but will get them the later CLT flight. No big deal. About an hour later they were told there are no options to go that day, given hotel and transit vouchers and a flight for the next day. Major inconvenience, loss of day at work and clearly would not have volunteered if this was to be an overnight VDB.

Is this an effective IDB (for the DFW flight not the original CLT flight which they volunteered for)? As an award flight what are the IDB comps for this? What to emphasise on the complaint request (i believe in concise fact based complaints)
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Old Jan 15, 20, 9:37 am
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Originally Posted by seaskybound View Post
My SO and kid were on an award booking CUN-CLT-LHR and at the boarding gate were offered to volunteer to go on later flight via DFW for vouchers and accepted. The GA asked them to wait near the gate till he gets the flight off and then will handle the paperwork. After the flight left he gave them the vouchers and said he cannot now get them the DFW flight but will get them the later CLT flight. No big deal. About an hour later they were told there are no options to go that day, given hotel and transit vouchers and a flight for the next day. Major inconvenience, loss of day at work and clearly would not have volunteered if this was to be an overnight VDB.

Is this an effective IDB (for the DFW flight not the original CLT flight which they volunteered for)? As an award flight what are the IDB comps for this? What to emphasise on the complaint request (i believe in concise fact based complaints)
An IDB is when you have a confirmed ticket but you are not given a seat because the flight is oversold and you are not allowed to board the plane. You're in a VDB situation since you voluntarily gave up your seat in exchange for a voucher and when you signed the voucher, the T&C include a waiver of all claims against AA for that particular flight. It seems like the gate agent made a big mistake however. You should've been confirmed on the DFW flight before you received the voucher. Seems like the gate agent saw there was availability, but did not hold the space and during boarding/processing of the voucher, those open tickets were booked by someone else. In the future, double check with the gate agent that you have a confirmed seat on the alternative flight (and check the app to see if your new itinerary pops up) before deciding to give up your seat. Probably worth a note to AA customer relations though and they might give you some miles.
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Old Jan 15, 20, 9:37 am
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There's no such thing as an "effective" IDB or IDB compensation for incompetence. If they did not have an actual confirmed booking on another flight, any request for IDB compensation is almost certainly going to be denied. AA is not going to go by what was said as there's going to be no record of that. You can maybe get some miles or a voucher of it, but pursuing IDB hard cash is likely going to be fruitless.
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Old Jan 15, 20, 11:08 am
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Thanks both for very useful comments.

Obviously she did not know to ask for confirmation of seats prior to accepting. She accepted GAs promise of $550 vouchers and a DFW flight (and to wait till flight is gone to get them). The GA could have also said, I know I said $550 but actually I can only give you $450 is that any different?

Anyway she does not want full IDB comp by the book. I am just seeking FT guidance for tips for max comp she can get.
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Old Jan 15, 20, 11:14 am
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Your best bet is probably to complain to the DOT and say that AA engaged in an unfair or deceptive business practice by promising one thing and then giving your family members something else. There's no formal rules around this that I'm aware of, but the DOT generally wants airlines to be transparent and truthful in their dealing with passengers so may take a dim view of this type of behavior.
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Old Jan 15, 20, 12:04 pm
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Also, it would have been entirely appropriate and advised to ask for a supervisor (either at the gate or at a customer service desk) at the time. Your wife was PROMISED a certain flight and the GA did not adhere to the promise. The promise could constitute a verbal contract. In any case, a supervisor should have been notified. A complaint to AA Customer Relations and to the US DOT is justified in this case.
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Old Jan 15, 20, 12:38 pm
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Originally Posted by seaskybound View Post
Thanks both for very useful comments.

Obviously she did not know to ask for confirmation of seats prior to accepting. She accepted GAs promise of $550 vouchers and a DFW flight (and to wait till flight is gone to get them). The GA could have also said, I know I said $550 but actually I can only give you $450 is that any different?

Anyway she does not want full IDB comp by the book. I am just seeking FT guidance for tips for max comp she can get.
I've never heard of an agent offering a higher amount and then lowering the amount after the fact. That's deceptive (or an honest mistake which I doubt) and I would've immediately asked for a supervisor at the gate to complain. She should've received $550 with no questions asked if that's what she was offered.
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Old Jan 15, 20, 12:45 pm
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Everyone is conflating whether this is an IDB with whether it's provable. I think it clearly is—a VDB doesn't mean that you agree to be bumped in exchange for any compensation and any flight, it means you agree to it for specific conditions. In this case I strongly suspect that's how the DOT would see it.

Proving that the passenger was offered a specific flight is more tricky, but a) there's always a chance one of the agents involved would tell the truth if asked and b) at the very least, you have the PNR history showing that the agents didn't confirm a flight into the record before offering the VDB.
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Old Jan 15, 20, 12:48 pm
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It would be interesting to know whether seats were actually available for same-day re-accomodation when the AA agent made the initial VDB offer.
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Old Jan 15, 20, 12:49 pm
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Originally Posted by Finsup72 View Post
I've never heard of an agent offering a higher amount and then lowering the amount after the fact. That's deceptive (or an honest mistake which I doubt) and I would've immediately asked for a supervisor at the gate to complain. She should've received $550 with no questions asked if that's what she was offered.
To clarify, she received the dollar amount exactly as promised. I only gave that as a "what if" example.

The 2nd part of the same promise, to get to LHR same day she did not recieve. But because she was not actually confirmed to LHR, just promised, posters above suggest IDB did not happen here.

It'd an involuntary-mis-promise not IDB

Still not clear best way to maximize comp (prefer cust service over DOT). if it was a clear cut IDB (it's not) what should she receive? Reminder award tix.
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Old Jan 15, 20, 12:55 pm
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Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
It would be interesting to know whether seats were actually available for same-day re-accomodation when the AA agent made the initial VDB offer.
From what GAs have told me the alternative routing(s) or simply shown in the computer. I'm assuming AA's systems look for routings in which there's available seats and that's what the GA is given to offer. If someone else comes along and is confirmed into those seats in the interim the GA probably wouldn't know that until he/she tried to do the rebooking. Likely this doesn't happen that often.
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Old Jan 15, 20, 1:01 pm
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Bottom line is that this is not an IDB and therefore there is no IDB compensation, e.g. 400% of the fare paid for that CLT-LHR segment, capped at $1,350 and paid in cash.

A complaint to DOT will not result in individual action against AA and, even if DOT were to fine AA (which it rarely does for one off's) none of that goes to OP or his family.

OP's wife should send a polite, but firm note, focusing on the fact that she agreed to the VDB conditioned on a specific routing and even then a backup specific routing, neither of which AA was able to fulfill. AA will likely issue further vouchers in addition to the $550 likely issued already.

For the benefit of others:
1. Don't accept VDB without a confirmed seat on the reroute. Entirely possible that there was a seat when offered but somebody else changed, SDC'd or purchased it while the original flight was being processed. At a minimum, have the GA confirm that he has held the positive space (which he can do).
2. Ask for a supervisor. In this situation, a supervisor could have sorted this even if it meant additional compensation to others to make space for the family.
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Old Jan 15, 20, 1:34 pm
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With all the similar threads these days, it seems like one should record any conversation with a GA......
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Old Jan 15, 20, 1:42 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Bottom line is that this is not an IDB and therefore there is no IDB compensation, e.g. 400% of the fare paid for that CLT-LHR segment, capped at $1,350 and paid in cash.

A complaint to DOT will not result in individual action against AA and, even if DOT were to fine AA (which it rarely does for one off's) none of that goes to OP or his family.
The bottom line is not correct, and there is good reason to loop in the DOT here—AA has an interest in DOT not fining it, and with the DOT looped on the correspondence, is likely to be a lot more forthcoming about something that a) may be an IDB b) is definitely a deceptive practice.
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Old Jan 15, 20, 1:49 pm
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Originally Posted by SamOF View Post
The bottom line is not correct, and there is good reason to loop in the DOT here—AA has an interest in DOT not fining it, and with the DOT looped on the correspondence, is likely to be a lot more forthcoming about something that a) may be an IDB b) is definitely a deceptive practice.
AA is simply going to point to the fact that when the offer was made and accepted seats were available. Yes the GA probably should have went in held positive space but will that would motivate DOT to take action? Better to write a concise email to AA and receive hopefully additional compensation.
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