Two weeks ago, while flying back to Kansas City on US Airways, I experienced my first "major" irrops experience with American/US Airways. To sum it up, the flight from Greensboro, NC, to Charlotte experience a two-hour maintenance delay, which killed my 55 minute connection to the Kansas City flight. The next two CLT-MCI flights were oversold, so I was automatically rebooked CLT-DFW-MCI. On the descent into Dallas, the weather shut down DFW, so we diverted to DFW. By the time we landed, I missed my flight to Kansas City and had to pay out of pocket for a hotel room. You can read more about the experience here, but the rep from AA Customer Relations basically told me how I was wrong about it being a maintenance delay and AA would offer $25 or 2,000 miles. I planned to contact AA once more, though after I returned from my trip to Beijing.
I returned today from a great, albeit short, trip to Beijing. As with everybody who purchased the very discounted business class fares that American published in March, I had to fly back to DCA, where I then caught a non-stop flight back to Kansas City on US Airways Express.
After landing at DCA, I had a voicemail come in from an unknown phone number. The person said that they worked for American and were contacting me on behalf of the Executive Management Team at the Corporate Offices. The agent was unable to leave me a callback phone number, due to American removing the ability for agents to hot-transfer to Customer Relations and disconnecting the direct phone number that many of us had acquired over the years. She indicated that she would contact me again in an hour. At this point, I had no clue that she was calling about the Greensboro trip. My flight to Beijing was delayed 16 hours, so I had imagined that they were calling about that delay.
You can imagine my surprise when I answered the phone 50~ minutes later and the agent's first words were "you were right all along". It took me a moment to understand that American was admitting that they were wrong and I was right, so my first words to the agent were "what are you referring to?"! The agent indicated that she dug further into the records from flight 5577 and it was indeed a maintenance delay on the previous flight that delayed us by two hours.
Throughout the call, the agent seemed sincere and apologized for the actions of her colleague. She indicated that I would be receiving an email with a link to submit the bill for my stay at the Hyatt Regency DFW. Additionally, she was going to credit my AAdvantage account with 15,000 bonus miles for the inconvenience. I received the follow-up email just a few moments after we got off the phone, part of which is quoted below.
April 29, 2015
Dear Mr. Palen:
Thank you for contacting Customer Relations. I am happy to have the opportunity to speak with you on behalf of our Executive Management team. It was a pleasure speaking with you this afternoon.
Again, I am sorry for the mishandling of your flight irregularity. Our records do show flight 5577 was a mechanical issue. I certainly apologize for our error. Your continued business means a great deal to us and I'd like to be sure that we get another chance to provide you with the kind of trip you should expect when flying with the New American. With that in mind, have added 15,000 bonus miles to your account.
Before we disconnected, I asked the agent how she had learned of my delay and why she had contacted me. I was under the impression that I would not hear back from AA after being contacted by an agent one week prior. In this case, however, the power of social media prevailed, as somebody in the corporate offices had seen my blog post and passed it along to the agent who contacted me.
I certainly do appreciate the fact that I was able to get American to admit that I was right, though I do hope that American brings back the ability to contact Customer Relations by phone, or at least through an internal transfer from the various reservations desks. Having to deal with everything via email is frustrating and for people who aren't frequent travelers, an email often doesn't allow them to tell their side of things.