8 Months Later, A Conclusion To Our London Saga

42

Last October I booked 4 business class tickets to fly on American from JFK to London. I redeemed 120K BA Avios+$1,784 for all 4 tickets and had we flown would have also earned back 144K miles due to a premium class bonus promotion.

I also redeemed 36K Avios for the 4 of us to fly from Cleveland to JFK.

You can read a what happened next in this post. Everything that could go wrong went wrong, every agent that could have given us good info gave us bad info, American refused to move us to another airline, agents lied about the location of our checked baggage several times, and we wasted 25 hours never making it past JFK. Not a fun way to spend a day with a 2 and 4 year old, but they were actually quite good until we had to make our way to LGA to catch a flight home.

 

 

Read about the rest of the story, after the jump:

American’s Twitter team promised me several times that night that an agent would come help us, but nobody ever showed up. Rather than travel to London for a shortened trip and arrive just before Shabbos with no bags or stroller we opted to declare the trip in vain and flew home. The Paris terrorist massacre occurred on the weekend we were supposed to be in London, so I’m sure our family back home was happy we weren’t in Europe then.

American finally found our bags in Chicago several days after the ordeal. They were never able to explain how they wound up there.

But what followed was even worse.

They also found Rafi’s several year old Samsung tablet that he left behind during the ordeal, but instead of returning it to us via ground as promised, they shipped it next day AM, at my expense.

I called BA and AA about obtaining a refund or rebooking and got nowhere.

I tweeted to American and they assigned a customer service executive to my case. They refused point blank to rebook our trip to London. The executive promised to work with BA to arrange for a refund, but never followed up or returned my phone calls without me intervening to the Twitter folks. She never was able to solve anything and eventually admitted that she was unable to resolve anything. She said she would punt it up the ladder but I never heard from anyone else.

aa9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I continued to Tweet at American though even afterward:

 

 

For a while they still responded to me:

 

 

 

I even managed to guess exactly how long it would take for a resolution:

 

 

Then they just ignored me:

 

 

 

 

 

On the night of the cancellation American provided everyone on our flight with 20K compensation miles. And they did provide us with 10K miles to make up for the $100 charge when they express shipped Rafi’s tablet. But they did nothing beyond that and refused to take any ownership for the issue.

There was nobody home at BA’s horrendous call center to fix the issue either.

BA credited us with 18K Avios as if we had flown the flight from JFK to London. Apparently AA used the flight coupon to London to fly us back to Cleveland. The bonus miles were nice, but complicated the issue immensely.

I complained to the DoT in December and was assigned to a rep who was in shock that American and BA were refusing to rebook or refund us. He promised to get to the bottom of it.

In January American wrote back that they coordinated with BA and had arranged a refund of $1,166 and that they are closing the file. That left me short 120K Avios plus $684 paid for the flights.

I wrote back to the DoT rep several times, but didn’t get a response.

I posted here in February that the DoT had gone silent in an update on the situation.

In late February the DoT rep asked for my phone number, called me up, and explained how his 31 year old son had suddenly passed away in his sleep on New Year’s eve. I profusely apologized for all of my emails, and he did the same for not getting back to me. He appreciated my empathy (it hit home with me especially as his son was exactly my age) and he promised to get the case resolved.

In early April AA and BA responded that because the American agent used our London flight coupons to get us back to Cleveland, they weren’t able to provide a refund.

The DoT rep let them know that that was not acceptable.

In late April BA provided a refund of 60K Avios for the return segment from London to JFK and said that was the best they could do.

The DoT rep let them know that that was not acceptable.

In late June BA wrote that they refunded all of the taxes that I paid for the Cleveland-JFK and JFK-London round-trips, but could not issue a refund for the miles used for Cleveland-JFK or JFK-London.

The DoT rep let them know that that was not acceptable.

Finally I got a call from Carole, an NYC based BA agent, who gave me her direct line. She said she would reach out to American to refund us those miles as they had cancelled the flight and they should take ownership for the refund.

I said that would be fine, but wished her good luck. I had done all I could with AA and got nowhere.

She called me back last Thursday. She got nowhere with AA as well, so she immediately redeposited all of my Avios into my account.

It took 8 months, but I finally did get back the 36K Avios used for Cleveland-JFK and the 120K Avios used for JFK-London, along with the $1,784 paid in cash.

We also got 72K Avios from the flights that were credited, despite never actually flying on them. And we got 80K compensation miles for the cancelled flight and 10K compensation miles for the tablet situation, so we did wind up with 162K miles to show for the ordeal. American also reimbursed us for $147 of clothes that we bought before they found our bags.

And of course I spent every dime of the $96 of food vouchers that American gave us in the airport on that day on kosher food from a CIBO kiosk in LGA:

#What96DollarsBuysAtLGA #FoodVouchers #MilkingIt #TripInVain

A post shared by @dansdeals on

 

We got a refund from the Andaz hotel in London and from Warner Brothers Studio for a Harry Potter tour that we reserved.

The only other expense was £232 for Shabbos food and wine that we ordered from 1701 Kitchen to be delivered to the Andaz. They wouldn’t refund our charge but agreed to allow us (or anyone else) to use it in the future. You know, the next time we’re feeling brave enough to bring the family to London again.

Leave a Reply

42 Comments on "8 Months Later, A Conclusion To Our London Saga"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest
Mikey

מזל טוב!

Deal guy

At least the ordeal is over!

AA has really gone down hill lately.

At the end of the day you were persistent. And you won!

Awesome job!

Work-for-ur-muny

Oh well, Dan. Glad you at least got something back…

So what’s worse, Miami or London…?

MOshe

All i can say is WOW. American is becoming the worst airline out there. I had several bad experiences with them in the past few months in regards to being replaced from an overbooked and canceled flights. They are terrible at it.

Mikey

Why didn’t you contest the charge on your credit card and therefore receive the cash portion back even without American’s approval ?

Yossy h

Its amazing how they rather spend dozens of their employees hours plus the bad p.r instead of making a long term customer happy. Its illogical.

Srulky

AA is so incompetent.
I guess they can be likened to Spirit Air.

I think we all should travel with gopros just in case something like this ever happens.

@Yehuda

Glad it’s finally over for you.

YoungBubbie

Guess I should feel real lucky. My ordeal with AA only took numerous emails, tweets, one complaint to the DOT and 2 months to be satisfactorily resolved.
Patience is truly necessary.

Lol

They are so American , they work just like the government!

AsherO

AA wouldn’t take responsibility for their part in this, BA practically had their arm twisted by the DOT to pay up despite it being AA’s fault. And you were made to wait while AA and BA kicked the ball back and forth.

JohnB

I was charged for bags when we hold both American credit cards and the ticket was charged on one of those cards. I complained and was told it would be refunded. 19 months and no refund. I am stockholder in the new AA. They are done, in my book. I now book whomever is the least expensive, while avoiding AA. Parker is such incompetent a**.

Ak

Wow. What an ordeal!
After an episode like that, do you ever feel like the airline(s) has it out for you or is like purposely screwing with you just because? It’s such a sick story. Can’t believe it took that long.

Suzanne

Wow, what an ordeal to get back what they should have refunded without question! But what really puts it all into context is that poor DoT agent losing his son like that. Makes everything else seem pretty trivial, doesn’t it?

jim

should have sued them for $500K instead!

Dov

I’m glad you got to the bottom of this

I remember when I suggested about AA using your NYC LON coupon to get you back home to CLE and that’s what created the whole runaround with the refund

Moose

This may soumd amateur so pls forgive me in advance. I just wonder why you didn’t try the legal route? Like small claims etc. Care to share?

Dan

@Mikey:
To be honest I didn’t think getting a refund would be such an ordeal.
But I also didn’t want to jeopardize not getting the miles back.

@Yossy h:
Indeed.

@Srulky:
True, would have been very interesting if I had recorded it.

@YoungBubbie:
Lol

@AsherO:
Exactly. But thank Gd for the DoT!

@JohnB:
Good strategy.

@Ak:
Nah. It was just dealing with pure incompetent unempowered agents and I just hit the jackpot on this trip.

With the amount of travel I do it was bound to happen sooner or later.

But AA really was terrible in their handling of the situation. This wouldn’t have happened with Delta or United.

@Suzanne:
Absolutely. I just listened to my call recording of that conversation again today. You can hear my jaw dropping.

@jim:
It costs money to sue.

@Dov:
Nail on the head.

@Moose:
That would have been my next move if this failed. I’d rather use the legal route as a last resort.

HM

What do you guess was total amount of hours spent getting this resolved?

chevron

Dan,
First of small claims is cheap like $200 to file and they have to reimburse filling fee.

For those of us that have gone to small claims, you realize its much less hassle than it seems, any one of the DDF etc lawyers could write up the claim, you print, you file and your done.. in 2-3 weeks they will call and refund you

Dan

@HM:
I shudder to think about it. But it is nice to close the books on it.

@chevron:
You’re probably right. I’d just rather exhaust customer service avenues before filing a lawsuit. If I was AJK and had his background in law I’m sure I’d have filed suit months ago and won.
I’d have gone down that route next if this failed.

Dan
Anonymous

@chevron: That is when they decide not to fight it. It is no fun when they do.

Keith Herman

Good for you following up and keeping excellent notes on what happened with each contact. You won! Anytime you use BA miles for AA flights you risk forfeiting your miles. There’s a clause in the AADVANTAGE program that allows them to flush your miles. So you really did an awesome job and receiving your miles back. Very happy for you.

Pro israel

Glad to see it worked out for you Dan and you got my twitter and pic in the post 😉

Deal Guy

@Dan:

AA responds with a generic response.

How lame can they get?

Yankel

@Dan: some guy won several thousand dollars from LH I think for not having kosher. You could always higher legal counsel on contingency.

Abe

You landed a good DOT rep, are they all so competent?

(Condolences on your loss sir, if you’re reading this.)

Danny

American Airlines customer service is non existent. I am waiting for the next recession to come and then they will be crying for our business. Only then will we see any attempts at improvements.

I am bored with their computer generated email responses that never address your issue. How can you be in business with that way of responding to your customers?!

dhammer53

Goes to show you that AA doesn’t go the extra mile for a Blogger that has some influence. Good thing AA/BA didn’t wear you down, as I’m sure they had hoped.

Johnny

@Dan
This was an incredible experience reflecting how incompetent, self-serving, and totally ignorant of customer service AA and British Airways can be.

Hats off to you for being calm and following through this for 8 months.

Is there a guide for people like myself if i ever get into a similar situation? What type of documentation to keep, who to contact, what process of escalation to follow, etc?

Thanks

Welder

Wow! I’m glad it’s finally over. I’m happy to hear that the DoT came through and did what they’re supposed to. It’s good to know we’re not at the airlines’ mercy.

Mike

Nobody at any of these airlines knows what they are doing. I was trying to go standby on a same-day earlier flight about a month ago with AA and I was told it would cost me $75 change fee. I’ve never paid this fee before. Typically, with AA if there is availability on an earlier flight same day I have been able to go for free on the earlier flight. They sent me to the customer service desk and relayed all this misinformation to me. Eventually the next flight was relocated to another gate. The AA employee at the new gate booked me on the next available flight standby without charge and I flew home. Has anyone else had this issue? (I have no status with AA)

Reb Yid

Why did they need to refund you for the positioning flight to JFK? Was it all on the same itinerary?

Dan

@Keith Herman:
Yup, thanks.

@Abe:
I got lucky there I think.

@Danny:
Very true.
Doug Parker says American will never lose money again and the arrogance shows from top to bottom.

@dhammer53:
Maybe if I changed my name to Gary or Ben it would’ve helped 😉

@Johnny:
Reach out to the airline and DoT and just keep good notes.

@Welder:
Indeed.

@Mike:
It probably should cost $75, but its often waived at the airport.

@Reb Yid:
It wasn’t, but the whole purpose of flying to NYC was clearly only for the London trip which I declared to be a trip in vain.
Technically they may not have had to refund that portion, but they did in the end.

shmuel

Don’t you think you ought to mention hahgacha, trying to see what message you were being sent, what you’ve learned and grown, maybe hachna’ah that not everything goes eay, that hard work gets you places not the fast click click pleasure many are used to, or maybe a call to stop running after “miles” or pleasures in general? you are sharing a story with tens of thousands of people and G-d didn’t appear once, you ae not required to educate people but if you grab their attention there is an achrayus not to brainwash.

Dan

@shmuel:
It seems like you meant to type in MussarDeals.com, it happens, no worries.

I think the lessons in this post are self-evident. And I’d hope that people aren’t looking at me to be their Rabbi or preacher.

CRAZY STORY

I had a similar story but in my case they canceled just one leg in my multi-city itinerary so that left me stranded on the way…

wrote to them and they refused to help (or refund or compensate)

(only BA involved not AA)

what did you mention about DoT? would they be able to help me
how can I get through to them

Anonymous

@Dan:

THANKS a mil

MDC

Next time you consider going to London think DDExit instead.

Martin

Just got around to read this.

It really hurts.

As I guess you kept on pushing this not only for the $$ (as time may be worth more) also considering not to let the bad guy get away.

In the end THE BAD GUY “AA” got away with nothing and BA footed the bill. Now you out of options to go after AA.

AA takes this as a lesson dont pay and get away!!!

wpDiscuz