Being Stuck in a Bad Situation
If you have followed the previous posts (start at the beginning) about the mishaps and mistakes I made during a recent trip to Peru, you will know that I was stuck in a bad position. My wife was very upset, I had friends that would be waiting for us at the airport who had also become unresponsive on a messaging app and we had few options to make the situation better.
Utilizing your Elite Status
When I am mileage running these days it’s mostly for status and I consider the miles as a bonus? Why? Because I enjoy first class upgrades on almost every domestic flight I take. I enjoy my 8 systemwide upgrades and value those at a minimum of $250 each (because that is what I would pay almost every time out of pocket to move from coach to business class).
At the core of my status runs is the treatment you get. It is estimated by some that there are only 50,000-60,000 Executive Platinums (EXPs) out of 100 million members in the Aadvantage program from American. I have found that in many cases this still holds clout and I enjoy being a part of the 1% (of travelers).
One of the key advantages is the Executive Platinum desk, a phone number only available to EXPs. I typically get right through and have some of the best agents on the phone working to help me out and genuinely interested in keeping my business. When we returned to the LAN checkin desk in Mexico City I was working two ideas to get me where I needed to go. The LAN employees were trying to contact the American desk in T1 to see if they could exchange the ticket and get us on an Aeromexico flight to Lima leaving in an hour and a half as LAN codeshares that flight. American does not but I have been surprised in the past so I asked them to work on that and got on the phone with the EXP desk.
As soon as I called in I asked for a bi-lingual Spanish speaker to please assist me. I was immediately transferred and his skills for both languages were superb. I explained the situation and what we were trying to accomplish, he first protected us on the flight the following day and then spoke to the LAN staff in fluent Spanish to see about the Aeromexico flight and ticketing. Ultimately, they were not able to ticket us on the Aeromexico flight but it was the ability to dial the EXP line and get straight through to someone proficient to advocate for us that was so amazing.
After we had resigned ourselves to flying on the next day, I called Hyatt who only had a full point redemption night available. They were able to get this converted to a “points plus cash” award night which allowed us to cut the point cost in half, and brought the room charge down from a cash price of $250 for the night to just $75. We also then got a stay credit for the night, helping us to quickly re-qualify this year for diamond status, the best hotel status in the industry in my opinion.
The reservation call lasted all of two minutes and we started walking to the exit. I grabbed some pesos from an ATM and in between typing my PIN and getting my card I pulled up Uber. Uber had a car in the vicinity and as we were on the departures side, I messaged the driver as we walked outside that we were not at arrivals but at departures. He was there in less than three minutes with the hotel address already loaded into his GPS because I submitted it on the app. Had I not been able to get cash in the airport or forgot (which is more likely given the apparent total loss of reason on this trip so far) that would have been fine too because the transaction was completed using my stored credit card. If you haven’t yet signed up for Uber here is my sign up link, we both get a credit when you actually use Uber and their free money – if you want to sign up via my link, that is of course appreciated, but you can also just sign up on their page as well.
In 15 minutes we had flights re-booked for the next day in a language I spoke fluently, a favorable hotel rate and accommodation thanks to my status with Hyatt and were in a very nice black car headed to the property. I had turned my frown upside down and it was all thanks to status.
The battle is not over however… stay tuned to see what happened the next day when we tried to fly LAN again.