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[Rant] 3 hrs of bad agents -- including CK agent making things up!

[Rant] 3 hrs of bad agents -- including CK agent making things up!

Old Sep 18, 23, 1:30 pm
  #1  
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[Rant] 3 hrs of bad agents -- including CK agent making things up!

tl;dr I spent 3 hours on the phone last night unsuccessfully trying to make a small change to a reservation with SWUs applied (with the SWU segments left intact) that ended up with a CK agent hanging up on me. I called this morning and another agent did it in 20 minutes..

Longer rant:
Intro:

I had a reservation that's something like ABC-DFW-AKL, returning AKL-DFW-BCA. ABC-DFW-AKL and AKL-DFW had SWUs applied.
Act 1:
I wanted to make a small change (later flight) to the outbound ABC-DFW, and to change the final leg on the return to be to DFW-ABC. Original (EXP) agent was super lost and wanted to quote me for a full J fare for the first segment since she saw I was on business in the long-hauls. She didn't seem to understand how SWUs work which is a first for me. After super long waits being put in hold between me trying to explain how SWUs work and what I'm trying to do, the call disconnected about 40 minutes in..

Act 2:
I call again. 20 minute wait waiting for callback. Finally someone picks up.. She seemed like a moderately OK EXP agent -- at least knew how SWUs work and was willing to work with me to figure things out. But, she struggles to pull the cheapest economy inventory (O) which was available, only being able to build the itinerary with much higher fare codes. She spends a while going back and forth with the faring department since they were only offering me a change that required me to cough up a few Franklins, when I should have gotten a credit of $500 or so if they got the right fare codes. As I said she was trying to work things with me when I pointed this out, but was struggling. Finally, with me again on hold while she talks to someone, a recording comes up saying there was a technical difficulty and that they'll find me someone else.

Act 3:
Someone picks up and asks what I want. I was in the middle of my first sentence explaining my situation when she redirects my call. 5 seconds later and someone picks up "Concierge Key desk, this is X speaking". By this point I'm two hours in, but I figure I just hit gold with a CK agent and this person will finally figure things out. She sounds professional at first, but she'd rarely let me finish a sentence before she responds or finishes it for me. I finally explain everything about the change I'm trying to make, and she goes off to her faring department. A long wait ensures again, only for her to come back with the exact same quote as before. I ask about O inventory, and she says it's not available. When I point out it is on AA.com, she starts spewing something along the lines of "Sir when you booked this flight there's a contract that says what you can change into and O is not possible". I mention I have the fare rules with me and there's no such provision. Then she totally flips it around and starts telling me that I don't understand how fares work, and goes back to O is not available.. something along the lines of "Sir you want to book into economy but you don't understand that there's different classes of Economy and the fare you want requires O but O is not available". How she didn't even feel ashamed about contracting herself so quickly, I don't know. She talks to faring again, and comes back saying that the faring person confirms that O is not available, and apparently it was the same person from the faring department as before since the CK agent now berates me saying that faring told them they had already said this wasn't possible to a previous agent. At this point the CK agent offers to let me talk to faring, which I agree to. Another 20 minute wait ensues. Faring guy responds and it was the classic talking to a wall scenario. When I ask them why I see O available online and ask if they can check how they can get it, they don't answer the question and go back to the same as before. Finally the faring guy says something along the lines of "Sir the system considers all the factors and this is the best that we have", at which point I figure the guy is just not good at how to use his system, and won't try hard enough to figure it out. All along the CK agent kept cutting me off and won't let me finish a sentence. Finally, I ask her to let me finish a sentence, and figure I'll just change one of the flights instead of both to see if that yields something better. But the agent doesn't let me finish anything, and tells me she'll hang up with me. I mention I need that additional change, and she tells me "alright I'm hanging up", and that's that.


Overall, three hours for the whole ordeal in the middle of the night (!). A bit of engaging on the sunk cost fallacy on my part thinking I had put so much time already. Having the same person on the faring side on all calls made HUCA useless, but I didn't realize it until nearly the end of it all. Also, I would have imagined CK agents are the best they have, but wow.

Ultimately I called again this morning. Friendly agent picked up, understood what I wanted, still had to talk to faring (seriously why does American need this additional step, it's insane), but the whole thing wrapped up in 20 minutes, with most of it waiting for faring.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 1:36 pm
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I'm not totally following. It seems you wanted to change the outbound, which does trigger a repricing of the entire ticket. Meanwhile, changing the return from BDL to ABC would also result in a refaring on the return (from AKL-BDL to AKL-ABC) and might possibly affect the whole ticket as now you're in a roundtrip instead of two one ways. These are not "small" changes in the grand scheme of things. However, the price you were seeing on AA.com for the new itinerary was lower than what the agents were quoting you? Also, where were you seeing O available? On just the segment in question or on ABC-AKL?
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Old Sep 18, 23, 1:40 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS
I'm not totally following. It seems you wanted to change the outbound, which does trigger a repricing of the entire ticket. Meanwhile, changing the return from BDL to ABC would also result in a refaring on the return (from AKL-BDL to AKL-ABC) and might possibly affect the whole ticket as now you're in a roundtrip instead of two one ways. These are not "small" changes in the grand scheme of things. However, the price you were seeing on AA.com for the new itinerary was lower than what the agents were quoting you? Also, where were you seeing O available? On just the segment in question or on ABC-AKL?
Yeah, repricing was expected. The agents just couldn't figure out how to pull up the correct price. As you say, the price on AA.com was much lower (40% per ticket) than what the agents were quoting, and the cheaper price corresponded to O, which was necessary and available on all 4 segments. The agents just couldn't manage to figure out how to get O to come up on their end.

And I wouldn't claim these were "small" changes either. But they're not crazy hard and it's the first time I have three agents (and a CK one) that can't figure it out.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 1:44 pm
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Originally Posted by SEA737
Yeah, repricing was expected. The agents just couldn't figure out how to pull up the correct price. As you say, the price on AA.com was much lower (40% per ticket) than what the agents were quoting, and the cheaper price corresponded to O, which was necessary and available on all 4 segments. The agents just couldn't manage to figure out how to get O to come up on their end.
That is odd then. I'm curious how they would have responded if you had just priced out the new ticket and put it on hold.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 1:52 pm
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As for your question about the fare department, I've wondered this too. It seems like every call I make now requires I be put on hold for someone to do something manually. I know outdated IT is a problem with AA, but at some point this needs to be dealt with.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 2:14 pm
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS
That is odd then. I'm curious how they would have responded if you had just priced out the new ticket and put it on hold.
Oh, I left this fun bit out. I did ask the CK agent and the faring agent about me putting it on hold for reference. I wanted to get their approval first since technically AA doesn't like you double-booking yourself, or booking "impossible itineraries" since I already had a trip to AKL on those dates. Anyway, when I mentioned this, they said "oh Sir if you do that we'll have to reticket everything and you'll lose your upgrades". I figure they meant that they can't just "migrate" my existing reservation, which to some extent makes sense, but even though it was just to show that O was available I didn't want to risk them doing more dumb things and screwing up my upgrade somehow just to prove my point. The CK agent at some point also said something along the lines of "Sir O is not available because you're searching for it and that blocks it for us" (!) so even if I put it on hold, they'd just say that "well there was O but you took it with your reservation on hold" or something like that.

Originally Posted by USFlyerUS
As for your question about the fare department, I've wondered this too. It seems like every call I make now requires I be put on hold for someone to do something manually. I know outdated IT is a problem with AA, but at some point this needs to be dealt with.
It's so inefficient. And expensive for AA too that basic changes take so long.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 2:20 pm
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Originally Posted by SEA737
The CK agent at some point also said something along the lines of "Sir O is not available because you're searching for it and that blocks it for us" (!) so even if I put it on hold, they'd just say that "well there was O but you took it with your reservation on hold" or something like that.
I believe this is true. Searching for it temporarily pulls it from inventory, so that might have been why they weren't seeing it. When you called back this morning, had your re-searched for it on aa.com? Or did you simply call without searching again?

And, yes, they'd have to cancel your upgrades and reapply them to a new PNR. This could have resulted in your losing your upgrades entirely if the C upgrade inventory wasn't restored.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 2:24 pm
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS
I believe this is true. Searching for it temporarily pulls it from inventory, so that might have been why they weren't seeing it.
I'd love to hear more about it if it's true, but that'd be a very unusual design and also terribly bad. By searching I mean literally just seeing the search results, not moving any forward in the booking process. If searching pulls from inventory, then on any given search I'd be blocking inventory on tens (or hundreds) of flights, which seems too bad to be true. This also doesn't seem to align with past experiences when I was looking at very limited inventory (e.g. 1 seat left on IROP days or stuff like that) where I probably had searches ongoing for the same flights from different sites/devices at the same time for any given itinerary.

In any case, in this instance the availability was O7 on Expertflyer, so even if somehow my search was blocking 2 of those, they would still see the rest.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 2:28 pm
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Originally Posted by SEA737
I'd love to hear more about it if it's true, but that'd be a very unusual design and also terribly bad. By searching I mean literally just seeing the search results, not moving any forward in the booking process. If searching pulls from inventory, then on any given search I'd be blocking inventory on tens (or hundreds) of flights, which seems too bad to be true. This also doesn't seem to align with past experiences when I was looking at very limited inventory (e.g. 1 seat left on IROP days or stuff like that) where I probably had searches ongoing for the same flights from different sites/devices at the same time for any given itinerary.

In any case, in this instance the availability was O7 on Expertflyer, so even if somehow my search was blocking 2 of those, they would still see the rest.
I assume you at least picked the first legs to proceed to the second. My understanding when you do that is it's building a PNR in the background. This is done to prevent someone else from seeing a fare that might no longer be available. Same thing happens when I price things out through my CTA.

To confirm, you saw O inventory when searching ABC-AKL-ABC and not on the individual segments?
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Old Sep 18, 23, 2:33 pm
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS
I assume you at least picked the first legs to proceed to the second. My understanding when you do that is it's building a PNR in the background. This is done to prevent someone else from seeing a fare that might no longer be available. Same thing happens when I price things out through my CTA.

To confirm, you saw O inventory when searching ABC-AKL-ABC and not on the individual segments?
I did do that at some point. I know about the PNR in the background but I've only seen it kick off after selecting all flights (it even leaves it as a trip on hold on my trips). I suppose it's possible it would block the flights you've already selected -- I might try it out on other searches just to verify.. Either way, yes I saw O available when searching the trip end-to-end. And a separate agent was able to price it correctly when I called earlier today, so the issue was with the agents last night.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 2:37 pm
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS
I assume you at least picked the first legs to proceed to the second. My understanding when you do that is it's building a PNR in the background. This is done to prevent someone else from seeing a fare that might no longer be available. Same thing happens when I price things out through my CTA.

To confirm, you saw O inventory when searching ABC-AKL-ABC and not on the individual segments?
Originally Posted by SEA737
I did do that at some point. I know about the PNR in the background but I've only seen it kick off after selecting all flights (it even leaves it as a trip on hold on my trips). I suppose it's possible it would block the flights you've already selected -- I might try it out on other searches just to verify.. Either way, yes I saw O available when searching the trip end-to-end. And a separate agent was able to price it correctly when I called earlier today, so the issue was with the agents last night.
I just tried it on a random flight out of SEA tonight with 1 seat left in J. Confirmed that the inventory was still available on separate searches/Expertflyer even after selecting the outbound flight in the original search.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 2:42 pm
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Originally Posted by SEA737
I just tried it on a random flight out of SEA tonight with 1 seat left in J. Confirmed that the inventory was still available on separate searches/Expertflyer even after selecting the outbound flight in the original search.
Then I'd chalk this up to poor training unless someone else has better thoughts.

Another thought: I had an issue once where I was looking at my PNR on AA.com while on hold waiting for the Rates department to do something. After about 20 min, the agent came back after I was on hold saying the other department couldn't do anything with the PNR until I backed out of the reservation online. I thought that was odd as just viewing something doesn't normally put a lock on it (at least if I'm remembering my database development days correctly). However, as soon as I closed my browser, they were able to proceed.

Last edited by USFlyerUS; Sep 18, 23 at 2:51 pm
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Old Sep 18, 23, 2:46 pm
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS
Then I'd chalk this up to poor training unless someone else has better thoughts.
I'd say poor training, poor incentives from the company, poor attitude from the particular agents, bad IT which leads to error-prone manual processes, and tough luck for me.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 2:50 pm
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Not to excuse the attitudes of any agents but voluntary changes to a reservation with confirmed systemwides is not for the faint of heart on either end of the call!

The TLDR of this is that there is reprice involved but you wanted to keep your confirmed systemwide space on the long segments and you had found inventory in the lower cost O bucket that the agents couldn't pick up (but that they provided some common reasons why they couldn't find it which aren't likely the cause in your scenario).

Your J example might not apply here as oversell limits are common on certain routes but with O7, that says that something else was at play here unrelated to temporarily holding space in pricing screens.
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Last edited by enpremiere; Sep 18, 23 at 3:02 pm
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Old Sep 18, 23, 10:58 pm
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Originally Posted by SEA737
I'd say poor training, poor incentives from the company, poor attitude from the particular agents, bad IT which leads to error-prone manual processes, and tough luck for me.
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