AA Wanted $30k Change Fee

Old Jul 14, 2022, 12:37 pm
  #1  
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AA Wanted $30k Change Fee

Article - https://www.dallasnews.com/business/...utqIGWXxc7M8sI

DOT complaint - https://online.flippingbook.com/view/450282816/2/

tl;dr
  • AA made a schedule change from St Vincent (SVD) to St Lucia (UVF), which are in different countries AND have no commercial service between the two.
  • This change was buried inside of a schedule change email and no mention of made of a different airport departure, much less a different country departure.
  • AA refuses to re-accommodate to meet original timeline; AA suggests an option of $30k+ change fee AND a one week delay with no hotel or meal compensation.
  • Finally, both parties compromise to depart from Barbados (BGI). The travelers are paying for SVD-BGI flight on their own AND an additional hotel night for $1497.52. AA waives the $3k change fee for this because the "oversold bump issue is the customer's fault and the company [AA] is out over $3k to accommodate"
Hopefully, no one ever has to go through a schedule change like this but what is best practice if this type of change happens?
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 12:52 pm
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AA can now "join" record locators, I thought they could only split?
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 1:01 pm
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This seems really bizarre. I've had dropped segments that resulted in me leaving from another country (BUD-LHR-US, resulted in just LHR-US as the first leg got canceled) but AA hasn't ever just switched country of departure on their own.

Gotta feel like there's more to this story. But suuuucks for the OP.
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 2:58 pm
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I am a bit confused about what the $30K offer was actually for. I am skeptical.
I also see they used a seatmap to determine how many seats were available. Of course they didn't understand why the seatmap showed more than the 4 seats which were actually available..
So, no AA was not marketing 17 seats. Apparenlty they realized on July 4 they were changed to a different airport for their July 23 flight. The only availability to fly from St Vincent was 4 seats, even though 17 seats were unassigned.
This was for flight 1427. I don't see any confirmation for AA 1427 in the images. On July 4, they weren't even booked for that July 23 flight. So, there being 4 seats available in not an issue for IDB, as they were not booked on that flight at the time.
The claim about marketing 17 seats was incorrect, based on them not understanding bookings can exist without seat assignments.
On page 6, for the first schedule change, it shows nothing for return, only the return flight from MIA. That should have been a big red flag. I find the next change even more confusing, missing airport codes..........Apparently the airport code was in subsquent email, but ignored. If you make reservations for a group of 9, 6-7 months in advance, be pro-active. Had this been checked after the first change, they would have seen the problem, and could have had it resolved.. On July 4, they should have taken the 4 seats available for July 23, And, the other could have stood buy. That flight clearly had seats for an infant an a parent to sit togeher. but apparently decided all 9 needed to fly together. Additionally, anytime there is a changed, especially with 9 people, you need to make sure everything had been done correctly. I guess another question is why was the flight changed to a different airport? I suspect, at the time, the St VInceent flgiht was no longer on the schedule and was added back. Otherwise the airport change didn't make sense, because they were already booked and months before AA would have considered it oversold, and needed to get rid of pax
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 2:59 pm
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  • Not sure why there are separate PNRs as you can book up to 9 passengers on one PNR online. PNRs can be "linked" for upgrade purposes and it should make AA aware that the two PNRs are traveling together. I've worked with Group travel .They have a phone number in addition to email and they do answer so I don't see why the person filing the complaint didn't just call them. Although I'm not sure they will do a booking for less than 10. Group rates require 10 or more passengers.
  • Emails in complaint concerning schedule changes look manipulated with person claiming AA sent them without departure airport code or any original flight info. Typically original flights are at the bottom of the email under the red heading "ORIGINAL FLIGHT" . It appears the person truncated the emails
  • Person claims to be a seasoned traveler but never pulled up reservation online, only referring to emails, and also uses seat map as justification when stating that AA had room to put the 7 in question back on original flight when we all know the seat map is not a firm indication of seats available.
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 3:10 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by mvoight
I am a bit confused about what the $30K offer was actually for.
I think the $30k is on page 12 subpoint n - something about splitting the PNR due to an infant would cost at least $21k + other fees. Some things may have been lost between the complaint --> article translation here.
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 3:15 pm
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Originally Posted by MorganB
  • Not sure why there are separate PNRs as you can book up to 9 passengers on one PNR online. PNRs can be "linked" for upgrade purposes and it should make AA aware that the two PNRs are traveling together. I've worked with Group travel .They have a phone number in addition to email and they do answer so I don't see why the person filing the complaint didn't just call them. Although I'm not sure they will do a booking for less than 10. Group rates require 10 or more passengers.
  • Emails in complaint concerning schedule changes look manipulated with person claiming AA sent them without departure airport code or any original flight info. Typically original flights are at the bottom of the email under the red heading "ORIGINAL FLIGHT" . It appears the person truncated the emails
  • Person claims to be a seasoned traveler but never pulled up reservation online, only referring to emails, and also uses seat map as justification when stating that AA had room to put the 7 in question back on original flight when we all know the seat map is not a firm indication of seats available.
The complaint was unreadable. I gave up when I got to the screenshot of the seat map which "proves" that 17 seats are for sale. Seasoned traveler?

If this is actually due to an overbooking then the DOT should take action. AA cannot get around IDB comp by involuntarily shuffling people between flights. But it's hard to tell how much of this is actual fact, vs the guy's misunderstanding of how anything works.

I'd really like to see AA's response to this, to find out what really happened here.
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 4:25 pm
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The only indication of an overbooked flight was when he was checking on July 4 and saw 17 seats and there were only 4 available for the July 23 flight
At that time they were not booked on the flight, A July overbooking would not have cause airport changes months before the flight. I suspect his flight from St Vincent had been removed from the schedule when his booking was rescheduled from St Vincent to St Lucia
If AA changed his booking month earlier due to the flight going away, the most they owe him would have been a refund. The first email he received about a change, seems to show the first outbound leg showing as from Miami. I had this issue in my BA.com booking. AA.COM showed 2 return segments, but BA.com showed the return as LHR-DFW, and not BER-LHR-DFW. If a schedule change email shows something missing, that is when you check, especially when dealing with 9 people. At some point he indicated he had received at some point with the airport code "buried" in it. I doubt it! If he travels as much as he claims, the story sound off, and the news story is too one sided to be called "news". Additionally the report of the events is a bit confusing.

I just feel AA 1427 showing 4 seats for July 23, available in his call on July 4, is NOT oversold. I suspect they were unable to get rebooked to it, because they wanted 9 seats, but at the time they had already been booked from St Lucia, so they did not have any seats on 1427 to have been IDB on July 4. I doubt AA declares an oversold situation 17 days in advance of a flight, especially when the plane has 4 available tickets. That is still time of cancellations. So, my suspicions is they were booked from St Lucia months earlier due to the St Vincent flight being removed from the schedule, and then it came back
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 4:29 pm
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help us to understand what this change fee is? Thought change fees were eliminated? Sounds like a fare difference vs a change fee


Originally Posted by owflyer
AA can now "join" record locators, I thought they could only split?
Originally Posted by pillow25
Article - https://www.dallasnews.com/business/...utqIGWXxc7M8sI

DOT complaint - https://online.flippingbook.com/view/450282816/2/

tl;dr
  • AA made a schedule change from St Vincent (SVD) to St Lucia (UVF), which are in different countries AND have no commercial service between the two.
  • This change was buried inside of a schedule change email and no mention of made of a different airport departure, much less a different country departure.
  • AA refuses to re-accommodate to meet original timeline; AA suggests an option of $30k+ change fee AND a one week delay with no hotel or meal compensation.
  • Finally, both parties compromise to depart from Barbados (BGI). The travelers are paying for SVD-BGI flight on their own AND an additional hotel night for $1497.52. AA waives the $3k change fee for this because the "oversold bump issue is the customer's fault and the company [AA] is out over $3k to accommodate"
Hopefully, no one ever has to go through a schedule change like this but what is best practice if this type of change happens?
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 4:35 pm
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Originally Posted by 777lover
help us to understand what this change fee is? Thought change fees were eliminated? Sounds like a fare difference vs a change fee
Most likely it's fare difference. If they were on relatively cheap round trips and are now trying to book 9 close-in one-way tickets, $30k is not unbelievable (for all 9 combined; $3333 per passenger)
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 6:46 pm
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler
Most likely it's fare difference. If they were on relatively cheap round trips and are now trying to book 9 close-in one-way tickets, $30k is not unbelievable (for all 9 combined; $3333 per passenger)
That's likely what it is, but AA can't unilaterally rebook someone out of a different country and charge a fare difference.

That's the part that I don't understand
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 7:16 pm
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Originally Posted by Antarius
That's likely what it is, but AA can't unilaterally rebook someone out of a different country and charge a fare difference.

That's the part that I don't understand
Just IMO but I think this is basically just a combination of an auto rebooking gone horribly wrong and the guy not checking his agenda until it was too late (along with not realizing that HUCA can in fact be a valid strategy, though who knows what would have actually happened). No idea what the fairest outcome here would be, but at a minimum, AA should really fix their systems so that they don't automatically rebook people to fly out of different countries...
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 7:32 pm
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The traveler's confusion about seatmaps notwithstanding, I can personally vouch for some of what he's experiencing. At best, AA either has a completely incompetent team with a complete lack of understanding of the region they are selling tickets to - or they do but just don't care -, or a very poor scheduling algorithm based on distance only. Or at worst they are deliberately trying to misdirect customers who don't know any better to keep a sale and/or $$ as long as possible.

And before everyone goes Rambo on me, I usually tend towards being the dreaded 'AA Apologist". Or at least giving them the benefit of the doubt and a pass in most situations. But it outrages me the traveler and his family got caught in this particular SVD - ST. Lucia absurdness by AA.

I tried in June to book a flight -- for six different dates -- through MIA to SVD. Initially, four of the dates, the reservations screen defaulted MIA to St. Lucia. (My reaction was like "What the heck? You pretty much can't get from St. Lucia to SVD anymore. At least not quickly or reasonably. Not without booking a private charter flight. This makes no sense at all. What the heck is AA doing???)

Two of the dates I checked did have MIA-SVD availability at the highest flex fare $3039 (for F) but didn't match up with EF. It seemed like AA was either oversold or hedging their bets on whether to operate the flight. Over the week I was looking, (before I bailed based on the unreliability of what I was seeing), these flights went back and forth like ping pong balls. These were close-in flights -- not months out. Within the next 1-5 weeks.

But I had enough knowledge to know how absurd the recommended St. Lucia re-routing was. If someone had a week trip planned, you could easily spend 80% of it trying to get and from St Lucia to SVD. Used to not be as bad back when LIAT was operating. But now there are virtually no easy options. And nothing on AA partners where AA will have any responsibility whatsoever.

AA runs MIA-SVD twice a week, Sat and Wed. (Although occasionally they have changed it without much warning to Sat and Tues.) No other major carriers operate this route. If I would've elected to make the trip, it would have been flying Barbados and taking SVG air to Bequia. AA also has daily or near daily flights to both Barbados and St Lucia, as do most of the major players. Many more options in a pinch with BGI. However, Barbados never came up as an option. Only St. Lucia. Now perhaps because it's farther away distance wise than St. Lucia and the algorithm fails on relevancy. But it's actually possible to get flights "relatively" easily to SVD from BGI -- at least compared to St. Lucia -- but not necessarily without spending at least one night in Barbados first.

I don't often get outraged with AA. But they are the only major US carrier to SVD. In my mind, they have an extra level of responsibility and transparency to customers on a route and in the country where they're the only major player. Or at least that's the way it should be.

St. Lucia, Barbados, and St. Vincent are all different countries, with different covid entry rules, until a very recently. It just seems the height of irresponsibility and/or greediness for AA to try to sell flights to St Lucia from a reservation search to St Vincent.

Having routing to Lucia come up when I searched XXX-MIA-SVD completely boggled me. I actually thought to myself "I wonder how many poor saps are going to get sucked in and completely screwed over by this". That was my outrage at the search engine and AA offering up unusable options to other places they sell tickets. But at the end of the day, I guess everyone is responsible for doing their own diligence before purchasing a ticket. Somehow it never occurred to me AA would actually re-route someone on this itinerary though, for a ticket already purchased. Completely differently level of being screwed with no options.

Sorry for the long rant. This SVD-St Lucia switch really got my goat, because I knew how absurd and unworkable it is in practice. And it's still out there being offered. For some reason I can't get the screen shot to work. Maybe someone else can.

Don't take my word for it. Search MIA-SVD for July 16th or 20th on AA. UVF flights (St. Lucia) is actually offered AHEAD OF -- using default 'relevance' for the order listing --- actually two flights ahead of, the MIA-SVD July 20th flight. [[[ Huh??? It's very hard to give AA the benefit of the doubt when seeing that.]]]

Last edited by cmtlatitudes; Jul 16, 2022 at 10:19 am Reason: clarification, clerical
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 7:57 pm
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Originally Posted by Antarius
That's likely what it is, but AA can't unilaterally rebook someone out of a different country and charge a fare difference.

That's the part that I don't understand
Yeah of course not.

I suspect that, as another poster suggested, their initial flight got removed in a schedule change. They were auto-rebooked out of a "close" airport, which unfortunately makes no sense here because it's in another country with no way to get there.

They then tried to get into an alternate flight out of their original airport, but they needed 9 seats and AA was only selling 4.

At this point the guy looked at the seat map, incorrectly assumed that every empty seat corresponded to a seat for sale, and assumed that AA didn't want to put them on that flight because they wanted to sell the tickets for a lot of money. He got upset, which is understandable, but it's based on a misunderstanding.

He then tried to change to something that is outside of AA's policy for a free change after a schedule change, and so got quoted a fare difference. A supervisor agreed to waive it given the circumstances, but not cover extra hotel nights (no airline would pay for hotel nights due to a schedule change that was announced far in advance)

If this happened, then AA acted reasonably. A front line agent cannot waive a fare difference when it's required by policy, so it was escalated to a supervisor who could.

But I could be totally wrong. I only have one side of the story, from someone who is not really familiar with how all of this stuff works, and who is clearly upset.
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Old Jul 14, 2022, 8:00 pm
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I'm not buying this story. I would have trouble believing it even from a member here.
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