I don’t know when I am going to practice what I preach, but I could not help but to argue with an AA reservation agent on Saturday. As always, it was to my own detriment.
Here’s the story. An Award Expert client wanted a one-way ticket from New York to Porto and had AA miles. The only space available was on British Airways via London.
Small problem (besides the high fuel surcharges): the layover was about four hours. While I would have used the time to take a shower or check out one of the new Priority Pass restaurants there, the client just bought a flight on TAP that cut the layover to 90 minutes.
Thus, I called AA back to remove the segment and ticketed the reservation over the phone (the agent offered, stating that she would not charge the telephone booking fee).
Done. The ticket arrived. Or so I thought. The client said everything looked good, but he didn’t look at it closely. Turns out the segment from London to Porto was never removed. This was discovered during online check-in. I called AA back to again remove the segment, thinking it would be easy. It wasn’t.
The Phone Call
With only one day prior to departure, the agent claimed the courtesy cancellation/change waiver didn’t apply. It would be $150 to remove the segment. While I would have just skipped it, the client was checking a bag and I did not want to create any potential issues.
I am 100% sure I asked to remove the segment and the agent confirmed it was removed. When the agent seemed to think I was making it up, I should have just thanked her and hung up. Instead, I started arguing.
ME: “What do you mean I did not remove the segment? Why would I call AA instead of ticketing online if I wanted to leave the segment untouched?”
AGENT: “I don’t know sir. You tell me.”
ME: “But you see that I called in to ticket this right? I called into remove the segment.”
AGENT: “I see that you called, but you could have just done that online.”
ME: “Ma’am, no you cannot. Once an award is on hold, it cannot be modified online. That’s why I called.”
AGENT: “SIR! I’ve been working for American Airlines for 29 years. Don’t tell me how to do my job.”
ME: “Ok, show me how to make a change online.”
AGENT: “Sir, you just have to go into the reservation and click change.”
ME: “Where is that?”
AGENT: “Right there on the website. Trust me, I know my job.”
ME: “You’re wrong on that. Are you really going to tell me that you cannot help me and that I am responsible for an agent error?”
AGENT: “Yes. I have no way of knowing who is telling the truth.”
ME: “Do you have a recording of the call? Please review it.”
AGENT: “We do not.”
ME: “Can I speak to your supervisor?”
AGENT: “I am a supervisor.”
I should have hung up far before the conversation reached this point, but I just hung up.
I called right back and found the agent had already left a nasty note on the reservation. The next agent claimed her hands were tied. So I asked to be transferred to the original agent, waited on hold for her, apologized for hanging up on her, and I paid the $150 change fee, figuring I would write AA customer service.
Now I’ll send this to American Airlines. Let’s see if customer service listens.
Watch out for Pamela at the Dallas Southern Reservations Office (SRO). She displayed poor customer service and exemplified everything that is wrong with AA’s impotent Executive Platinum desk. If I were wrong, I’d have no leg to stand on…but when an agent makes a mistake, AA should own up to it. I’m so disappointed.
And yet I’m a fool for arguing with Pamela instead of finding a reasonable agent who would ask herself, “Indeed, why would the customer call to ticket a reservation he could have easily ticketed online…unless he was calling to change it?” I also should have checked the ticketed reservation instead of taking my client’s word that everything looked good.
For the record, you cannot change a booked award reservation online. Sorry Pamela.