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Rant: AA customer relations claims FC meals/snacks are "complimentary conveniences"

Rant: AA customer relations claims FC meals/snacks are "complimentary conveniences"

Old Oct 5, 2023, 11:18 am
  #1  
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Rant: AA customer relations claims FC meals/snacks are "complimentary conveniences"

Had a huge delay this week EWR-PHX 5:30pm departure that involved being deplaned....then multiple delays with promises of meal vouchers and then the GA telling PAX that the system wasn't working, and then telling PAX that she wouldn't have time to issue them to everyone in line as we were going to be boarding soon at the 3hr mark.

Our plane was inoperable due to damage on the cargo door caused by the ground crew so they got us a new inbound plane and we started boarding at 9:10pm....only to be held up by more delays sitting on the plane......finally left the gate at 10:43pm.

Luckily the beautiful brand new EWR AA Club stayed open 1.5hrs late for this flight as I bought a day pass as the GA literally told us they did not know when or even IF our plane was repairable.

25 mins in the flight they start coming around to take drink orders, etc.....and I ask what the meal options are and they tell me they did NOT cater dinner on this flight and proceeded to provide us with a terrible snack box and snack basket.

I wrote AA to complain about the GA's unfulfilled promises and the lack of a meal on what was SUPPOSED to be a 5:30 departure WITH dinner included in FC.

Here is their response:


October 5, 2023


Hello Mr. 355F1:

Thank you for contacting American Airlines Customer Relations.

I sincerely regret that your trip to Phoenix on October 1, 2023 did not go smoothly. I can certainly understand your frustration with the handling at the airport. That's not at all the kind of experience we want you to have with us.

It's kind of you to take the time to share your perspective. Please know that the specific concerns you've shared have been thoroughly documented for further review by the appropriate leadership teams here at American. It is never our intention to disappoint our customers and we are grateful to you for giving us the chance to improve as we look ahead.

I know you were hungry and, I'm sorry to hear you're disappointed that you didn't receive a meal on your flight. Complimentary food service is offered in our First Class cabin on all itineraries system-wide that operate within traditional meal windows (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and have a fly time of more than 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Our ticket price reflects the cost of transportation. Any meals and snacks served on our flights are considered complimentary conveniences.

I want you to know that we care about the negative impact this had on your trip. As a gesture of goodwill, I've credited your AAdvantage account with 15,000 bonus miles. This adjustment will be reflected in your account soon.

Mr. 355F1, again, I apologize for any inconvenience you encountered, and we value your loyalty being an AAdvantage Executive Platinum member. We are all working hard to ensure that every flight you take on American is enjoyable. Please continue to travel with us, you are appreciated.


Sincerely,
Sandy Pinski
Customer Relations
American Airlines
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 11:38 am
  #2  
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Sounds right to me. The ticket is not cheaper if it's outside the hours that they cater meals.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 11:54 am
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Sometimes I wonder who writes these customer response templates. AA experiences are so extreme and this leaves negative impressions despite there being a few positives.

Had they just excluded the superfluous text in bold, I imagine OP would feel more satisfied at the 15k miles given. The story could be...stuff happens - the aircraft couldn't fly and they didn't cater meals. But at least they kept the AC open 1.5 hours and gave me 15k miles for the mess.

Instead - the story is why does AA have to include borderline hostile text in their response, for really no reason?? The bold text looks more appropriate for a Y customer complaining biscoff was not catered.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 1:41 pm
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler
Sounds right to me. The ticket is not cheaper if it's outside the hours that they cater meals.
Yep, nor does a F ticket ever seem cheaper because it falls just short of 900 miles.

But, I do think there is a problem when AA promises a meal for your itinerary, but then doesn't deliver because they damaged a plane and delayed your flight past the 'meal time window'. I'd be happy enough with the 15K points though -- I never seem to be treated that nicely for my complaints (in fact, not sure I've ever gotten courtesy points thrown my way).
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 1:45 pm
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tbh it seems to me that 15k miles would be a reasonable gesture here, but I agree that the "complimentary conveniences" line is egregious and insulting. This is an advertised benefit that they use to induce F purchases, notwithstanding their CoC's abusive "you're buying transportation A-B and nothing more" language.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 1:47 pm
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There's another thread somewhere where I had a similar experience DCA-MSY. In that situation, the FA in First insisted that the meals catered on the first plane be moved to the new plane. As I recall, she had to tell the ground crew at least 2-3 times and kept insisting they call catering to get that done. In the end, it was, and we had our meals despite what ended up being a 5+ hour delay on a flight that "operated" well outside normal meal times. In this case, I have no doubt catering just left the meals on the original plane, all of which were likely discarded later that night.

Last edited by USFlyerUS; Oct 5, 2023 at 2:01 pm
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 1:53 pm
  #7  
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15k miles across seems unreasonably high to me. I guess I just view the statement about the meals as pointing out that this is a courtesy customer service gesture as opposed to compensation to which the passenger is entitled. This is similar to the "one-time courtesy" language that's often used.

We did not get to read the complaint that the OP wrote. If it said something along the lines of "I paid for first class and that includes a meal; I didn't get what I paid for" then I think that the response is reasonable to address that point. If not then I agree that it seems a little strange to bring it up out of the blue.

I'm any case I would be thrilled to trade an airline meal for 15k miles. The delay would be more annoying to me than the lack of a meal but we all know that these things happen occasionally.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 2:30 pm
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It is an important statement in the reply since justifies why the airline will not issue compensation for the situation.

As a gesture of goddwill, 15,000 miles seems quite a generous offer
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 2:39 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble
It is an important statement in the reply since justifies why the airline will not issue compensation for the situation.

As a gesture of goddwill, 15,000 miles seems quite a generous offer
And why is that important?
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 3:11 pm
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This is tangentially related, but I just received a phone call from AA CS to follow up about a complaint I made the other day and one of the points that came up was that reps dont have much control over what they write. The software makes them use canned phrases and specific syntax to make the email flow better and seem more professional, which even she admitted often has the total opposite effect. This helps explain the less-than-stellar email OP received.

However, I, too, would happily trade a meal for 15k miles.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 3:17 pm
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Originally Posted by lrdpenn
Sometimes I wonder who writes these customer response templates. AA experiences are so extreme and this leaves negative impressions despite there being a few positives.
I suspect AA corporate lawyers were involved at some point in creating those response templates. They may have graduated with summa cum laude from Ivy league law schools but have no people skills.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 4:24 pm
  #12  
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Aren't meal services something that is specifically listed in ticketing information?

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Old Oct 5, 2023, 4:27 pm
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Yes, I find this wrong. AA specifically promises meal service in F for flights 900+ miles, with some exceptions. Would that same verbiage be used if EWR-PHX was an international flight (ie, LHR-PHX)?

Definitely superfluous and unnecessary to be said, IMHO.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 4:39 pm
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I think a case could be made that they are not "complimentary conveniences", when it is expressly listed as part of the ticket you purchase. You purchase transportation - yes - but you purchase a specific class of transportation, and the meal service is a fundamental part of that class for that flight - as apparent during the booking process.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 5:14 pm
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS
There's another thread somewhere where I had a similar experience DCA-MSY. In that situation, the FA in First insisted that the meals catered on the first plane be moved to the new plane. As I recall, she had to tell the ground crew at least 2-3 times and kept insisting they call catering to get that done. In the end, it was, and we had our meals despite what ended up being a 5+ hour delay on a flight that "operated" well outside normal meal times. In this case, I have no doubt catering just left the meals on the original plane, all of which were likely discarded later that night.
Based on departure airports. The flight in question may have had a crew that timed out, so the FAs may have changed and the incoming FAs not aware that the original flight was a meal service marked flight. Therefore, they may not have known to insist ground crew transfer the catering over. And, knowing catering, most likely had moved on and off for the night.
At least the new AC was open, Id take that food any day over the meals served onboard. Yes, Id trade the meal for 15k miles, any day! I can grab something in the AC or terminal to eat then a snack to take onboard.

Since your departure was DCA, the crew was most likely fresh and had plenty of time left to work the flight. So they knew it was a meal serviced flight, and if FA #1 is strong headed, they have the will and gumption to not take no for an answer to get what they want from the ground crew and catering.

We were on a flight a few months back that was to be a meal served. It was already a slight delay and catering had yet to service the plane. Pilot came on and said we could wait another hour for catering or get in the air. We left catering behind. Which was fine by me. I only half pick at that food anyway, very rarely has it been something that Ive been excited to try.
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