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How to get customer service to address issues at AA

How to get customer service to address issues at AA

Old Dec 8, 2022, 8:40 pm
  #1  
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How to get customer service to address issues at AA

On 10/20/22 I presented to check in at BNA airport and was told by the agent I could not check in because I needed 2 travel documents. These documents were not listed on SHERPA or IATA so I was not aware of them. I missed my flight and an expensive trip to Antarctica. I have since found out after many calls, letters, etc that this documents were not required and AA was in error in to allowing me to board. A customer service agent at AA did tell me this but he would not document it for me in an email as I requested. I have written about 23 letters to various AA execs, sent numerous customer service complaint forms online (Only one resulted in a phone call but it was not productive), sent complaints to the DOT and BBB (for the BBB the only thing AA did was to sent a reply saying they would contact me (3 times) and then they closed the file.

This has been a very frustrating experience. Anyone have any suggestions? I have asked for a chargeback from the trip vendor (this is pending but I don't feel they were at fault, AA was), and my travel insurance did not cover this (I did file the claim, it was denied). This trip was $17,365.00. Do I need to file a small claims case? I also contacted a travel editor at the New York Times and they said they would look into it but nothing as of yet. I figure if they can't find anything out, who can? Is there any way to get AA to try to make some kind of restitution? I am very surprised at the customer service of this company.
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 11:05 pm
  #2  
 
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Where were you flying? Obviously not to Antarctica from BNA. Were these Covid-related documents or something else?

$17,000+ is way beyond small claims court.

The trip vendor might be more amenable to rebooking rather than a refund it might not actually owe you.
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 11:07 pm
  #3  
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I’m assuming American wasn’t taking you to Antartica, lol. You’ve got an uphill battle ahead of you. No airline accepts responsibility for anything other than getting you from A to B on *their* ticket. Miss a cruise and forfeit it? Tough. Miss a wedding? You don’t get a do-over at their expense. I don’t know the exact legal concept but it’s the equivalent of asking a photo lab to reimburse you for your vacation because they lost your film.

They should give you something as a customer service gesture, but no way is it going to be 17k. Sorry. If you didn’t fly to SCL, *that* ticket is likely reusable.

Does the unused trip have no residual value at all?

Last edited by TravelerMSY; Dec 9, 2022 at 1:03 am
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 11:15 pm
  #4  
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I was flying BNA to SCL (Santiago, Chile). The documents were not needed. The check in agent would not give me the names the day of the flight or print them out for me. AA would not give me the names of the documents (BECAUSE THERE WEREN'T ANY). I only found this out this week. AA admitted the error but would not document it for me. I was going to give it to my credit card company to see if could get a chargeback. There were no Covid documents needed other than a vaccine record (which I had). In TN you can file small claims up to 25,000 (this is my understanding anyway). I asked the trip vendor for a credit (twice), they declined. It is a big mess that has taken hours for me to try to get answers from AA. I just need someone to acknowledge what they did at least so I can try to get the money back from someone (who I don't know).
Thanks for your reply.

Originally Posted by js1993
Where were you flying? Obviously not to Antarctica from BNA. Were these Covid-related documents or something else?

$17,000+ is way beyond small claims court.

The trip vendor might be more amenable to rebooking rather than a refund it might not actually owe you.
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 11:21 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by thomas1234
On 10/20/22 I presented to check in at BNA airport and was told by the agent I could not check in because I needed 2 travel documents. These documents were not listed on SHERPA or IATA so I was not aware of them. I missed my flight and an expensive trip to Antarctica. I have since found out after many calls, letters, etc that this documents were not required and AA was in error in to allowing me to board. A customer service agent at AA did tell me this but he would not document it for me in an email as I requested. I have written about 23 letters to various AA execs, sent numerous customer service complaint forms online (Only one resulted in a phone call but it was not productive), sent complaints to the DOT and BBB (for the BBB the only thing AA did was to sent a reply saying they would contact me (3 times) and then they closed the file.

This has been a very frustrating experience. Anyone have any suggestions? I have asked for a chargeback from the trip vendor (this is pending but I don't feel they were at fault, AA was), and my travel insurance did not cover this (I did file the claim, it was denied). This trip was $17,365.00. Do I need to file a small claims case? I also contacted a travel editor at the New York Times and they said they would look into it but nothing as of yet. I figure if they can't find anything out, who can? Is there any way to get AA to try to make some kind of restitution? I am very surprised at the customer service of this company.
  • What were the 2 documents AA thought you needed?
  • The passenger is always responsible for all travel; documentation: passports, visa, vax certs, etc. The passenger not being aware is not the anilines problem.
  • Did you purchase a flight from AA and (guessing) a separate Antarctic cruise ex Chile? Or was it all in one package purchase from a travel agent or equal. https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/an...ses-from-chile
  • What did your travel insurance provider state when you made a claim? Why denied?
  • No one pays out on consequential loses.
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 11:22 pm
  #6  
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The company that I purchased the trip from refused to give me a refund or credit for future travel. They told me to file travel insurance (which does not cover this) and try to get the trip cost from AA (which I have been trying to do but AA does not have good customer service). The travel insurance declined the claim (which I expected).

I was flying to Santiago Chile from Nashville TN. I am already on this uphill battle and have been for 6 weeks.
The airline admitted this week (or a customer service supervisor did ) that they made an error in not allowing me to board. They just would not document this for me so I could try to get a chargeback from my credit card. They were directly responsible for me missing the trip.
I am just trying to get somebody at AA to contact me so I can try to get either some documentation or some kind of renumeration for the trip cost.
I know they don't like to take responsibility but they ARE responsible. I was hoping someone on this site might be able to help me get them to respond to me in some manner.
Thank you for your reply.
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 11:34 pm
  #7  
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AA would not give me the name of the 2 documents (because there weren't any required). In other words the check in agent made a mistake. On the day I tried to check in I asked the agent to print them out or write them down but he either could not or would not. The check in agent told me one document had to do with the hotel you are staying in (in Santiago) but this was not correct (AA told me this later). The other one the check in agent did not know the name of and it was in Spanish so I could not understand what it was (he showed me on his computer screen). Not only did he tell me I needed 2 documents but he said they also had to be approved by the Chilean government before I could check in. This didn't sound right to me either.
AA admitted this was an error to me this week but they would not document this for me. I was going to try to get my credit card to charge back the money from Aurora who I was going with.

Yes AA's explanation to me was "THE PASSENGER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR RESEARCHING TRAVEL DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAVEL". I was read that several times. But in this, THERE WERE NO DOCUMENTS REQUIRED and AA made an error. They have admitted that.

The travel trip was separate (booked with Aurora) and I bought my airline tickets separately.

The travel insurance denied the claim because it was not covered ( There is no coverage for missing a flight due to airline not allowing you to book for travel documents (in this case that I didn't even need). I knew that when I filed the claim so I knew they wouldn't do anything.

I was hoping somebody on this site could help me figure out a way to get AA to respond to me. I have been working on this for several weeks and it has been so frustrating as you can imagine.

Also I am hoping to go to Antarctica in Jan with a different company but I need to get my money back and I would have to fly with AA again (have some points to use) and I am actually terrified of flying with them again.

Thank you for your reply.
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 11:46 pm
  #8  
 
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File a DOT complaint and contact as many travel reporters/bloggers as possible, such as @gleff. Otherwise, you're looking at a lawsuit. Good luck.
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 11:49 pm
  #9  
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Originally Posted by thomas1234
The company that I purchased the trip from refused to give me a refund or credit for future travel. They told me to file travel insurance (which does not cover this) and try to get the trip cost from AA (which I have been trying to do but AA does not have good customer service). The travel insurance declined the claim (which I expected).

I was flying to Santiago Chile from Nashville TN. I am already on this uphill battle and have been for 6 weeks.
The airline admitted this week (or a customer service supervisor did ) that they made an error in not allowing me to board. They just would not document this for me so I could try to get a chargeback from my credit card. They were directly responsible for me missing the trip.
I am just trying to get somebody at AA to contact me so I can try to get either some documentation or some kind of renumeration for the trip cost.
I know they don't like to take responsibility but they ARE responsible. I was hoping someone on this site might be able to help me get them to respond to me in some manner.
Thank you for your reply.
Originally Posted by thomas1234
AA would not give me the name of the 2 documents (because there weren't any required). In other words the check in agent made a mistake. On the day I tried to check in I asked the agent to print them out or write them down but he either could not or would not. The check in agent told me one document had to do with the hotel you are staying in (in Santiago) but this was not correct (AA told me this later). The other one the check in agent did not know the name of and it was in Spanish so I could not understand what it was (he showed me on his computer screen). Not only did he tell me I needed 2 documents but he said they also had to be approved by the Chilean government before I could check in. This didn't sound right to me either.
AA admitted this was an error to me this week but they would not document this for me. I was going to try to get my credit card to charge back the money from Aurora who I was going with.

Yes AA's explanation to me was "THE PASSENGER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR RESEARCHING TRAVEL DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAVEL". I was read that several times. But in this, THERE WERE NO DOCUMENTS REQUIRED and AA made an error. They have admitted that.

The travel trip was separate (booked with Aurora) and I bought my airline tickets separately.

The travel insurance denied the claim because it was not covered ( There is no coverage for missing a flight due to airline not allowing you to book for travel documents (in this case that I didn't even need). I knew that when I filed the claim so I knew they wouldn't do anything.

I was hoping somebody on this site could help me figure out a way to get AA to respond to me. I have been working on this for several weeks and it has been so frustrating as you can imagine.

Also I am hoping to go to Antarctica in Jan with a different company but I need to get my money back and I would have to fly with AA again (have some points to use) and I am actually terrified of flying with them again.

Thank you for your reply.
You have a claim against AA for the cost of the ticket only due in involuntary denied boarding. May be able to get DOT involved. No one pays out for consequential loses.

Other costs are on you or your travel insurance if they accept a claim.
When AA denied boarding did you advise the cruise operator/travel agent? Or just no show? How long before the scheduled flight arrival and cruise departure?
For the cruise operator you did not show up. No different to them for saying passenger not arriving due to aircraft maintenance, weather, passenger sickness, what ever. Passenger did not show up- not their problem. Just what ever is in the tour ticket t&c's.
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 11:52 pm
  #10  
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Yes those are good ideas. I have already filed with DOT and BBB. I was told by the DOT the company has 60 days and it has been about 30 since I filed it. The BBB was not effective; they asked the company to respond and the way they responded (3 times) was by sending a letter thru the BBB site that they WERE GOING TO RESPOND and after they did that 3 times, the BBB closed it. They have no enforcement power.
I did contact Elliott.org who writes for the Washington Post who offered to try to contact the company but they did not respond to him either. A reporter at the New York Times also told me he would "look into it" but I don't know if he has found anything. That was 3 weeks ago. If the New York Times can't get a response I don't know who can. I am considering small claims but I want to try to get AA to respond to me first (in writing) admitting their mistake. This may not work.
Just. hoping someone on this forum could help me figure out a way to get them to contact me.
I will try @gleff as I was not aware of that.

Thank you for you reply.
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 11:54 pm
  #11  
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Hindsight is always 20:20 (and of no help to the OP). But both DL and UA serve BNA and SCL. In the OP's situation, I think I would have approached both counters at BNA, asked if my passport was sufficient for travel to SCL, and gotten a price quote for a last-minute ticket.
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Old Dec 9, 2022, 1:33 am
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Originally Posted by guv1976
Hindsight is always 20:20 (and of no help to the OP). But both DL and UA serve BNA and SCL. In the OP's situation, I think I would have approached both counters at BNA, asked if my passport was sufficient for travel to SCL, and gotten a price quote for a last-minute ticket.
Agreed.

When I missed my New Year's Eve flight from Kuala Lumpor to Singapore (my fault because I didn't know KLIA2 isn't connected to KLIA) I walked down the line of airlines until I found a seat. I already had too much invested in going to Singapore so the price of a last minute flight was really irrelevant.

OP: I was in a similar situation last year with covid documents. AA was saying I needed more forms than I actually needed and wasn't going to let me board. Fortunately, some extra planning bringing additional documents "just in case" and a check-in agent willing to take the time to make a couple phone calls to find out what was actually needed saved my butt and I was able to fly.

I know that doesn't help you now, just something to think about if you're ever in that situation again. Always assume the travel industry is non-refundable, non-changeable, and you will lose every penny for a no-show even if it's their fault. Even if it costs you considerably more, do whatever you can to salvage your plans when you have a large investment already paid out.

I'm very sorry this happened to you and wish you the best. I think the most you can hope for is to find someone sympathetic at Aurora to allow you to rebook, maybe suggest they give you a 50% credit for a future booking if you can't convince them for more. You certainly won't get a refund if that's what you're hoping for. Make sure to request your call be escalated as high as possible.

I don't think you mentioned, getting a refund from AA shouldn't be a problem. For your next trip, just go to the airport as soon as you can, speak to a supervisor that understands what documents are needed and will allow you to have a check-in agent call them if there is a problem on your day of travel. You will likely get more help dealing with the people directly at BNA than a phone representative.
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Old Dec 9, 2022, 2:58 am
  #13  
 
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In small claims it would be easy to establish you were wrongly denied boarding resulting in the $17k loss. But whether the judge will put AA on the hook for the full amount is hard to predict. I believe AA does record customer service calls so there would be a record of the agent claiming they were in error. I would also review the small print of the insurance - though it is extremely likely denied boarding is not covered.

I would have a lawyer write a letter - and if it doesn't resolve anything file in small claims. AA may offer you a resolution before the court date.

For your next trip have the cruise company book the ticket - the will typically protect you in case of disruptions. If using points arrive at least 2 days before departure of the cruise.
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Old Dec 9, 2022, 4:33 am
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Please don't take offense at this question as I'm just tossing out a guess here, but could there have been a language barrier between you and the airport agent? As in you (or they) misunderstood what either was asking for or really talking about? Maybe there were ways this could have been resolved then and there at the airport? There are always solutions. In a way it's understandable that AA is slow to respond: the situation may not make sense to some random customer service agent who has no context of what happened, it may sound to them like it could be a he-said she-said type of thing, and the dollar amount claimed is very significant and no agent is going to just cut a check without having a very thorough CS case investigated.

I say this not to redirect blame on you but ask because its more common than you think. On a recent trip a colleague of mine saved the vacation travel of some strangers. They were at check in and overheard a couple having a heated spat with a check in agent in broken English. They politely stepped in and did some French-English translation between the two parties and cleared up what turned out to be really no significant issue at all. Everyone walked away happy. The point is sometimes simple things are misinterpreted and language becomes a barrier to resolution, emotions come into play, and the outcome ends up unfavorable.
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Old Dec 9, 2022, 4:58 am
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Love how people waste their time complaining to the BBB. I think people are under the impression that the BBB is somehow affiliated with government (probably because they chose to incorporate the word bureau in their name). When in reality theyre a for profit private company with no actual powers to sway a company.
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