American Airlines Flight Stops To Pick Up 74 Stranded Passengers, Take Them To Paradise

On Thursday American Airlines went above and beyond for a group of passengers, requesting a change in runway, swapping gates, and sending a golf cart to make sure that they made their connection in Dallas in order to arrive at a family funeral in time.

It’s hardly the only time this week that American Airlines went to lengths outside of usual procedure for a group of passengers.

On Tuesday there were 74 passengers booked to fly American Airlines from New Orleans to Charlotte and on to Nassau in The Bahamas. The morning New Orleans – Charlotte flight 1266 was delayed and then cancelled, leaving them without any options to get to their destination.

American’s System Customer Support Manager group came up with an idea: that day’s Dallas – Nassau Boeing 737-800 flight 1005 was only booked to about 92 passengers, so there were enough open seats to take all 74 people to where they were going. It wouldn’t be possible to fly them all to Dallas in time to catch that flight. So American decided that Dallas – Nassau would add a stop in New Orleans to pick them up.

New Orleans is literally on the way between Dallas and Nassau. In practice the route wasn’t this direct, since the plane had to fly around a bit of weather, but it certainly didn’t need to go out of its way.

Everyone headed to Nassau got where they were going the same day. Those New Orleans passengers were delayed, but they even got to fly non-stop, cutting their distance flown by 38%. The Dallas – Nassu flight got in at 6:34 p.m., an hour and a half later than scheduled. Strictly speaking the passengers didn’t make it to Paradise (Island), but they did make it to their destination – The Bahamas.

This is amazing for the passengers starting in New Orleans. How would you have felt taking a delay if you were on the Dallas – Nassau flight?

Personally I would have been more than good with this, finding it heartwarming even as a passenger who was scheduled to fly non-stop. Odds on heading to Nassau I wouldn’t be on a tight schedule trying to make a business meeting. Nearly everyone on board would have been starting a holiday, visiting friends and relatives, or returning home. The slight delay would be low cost – and make a huge difference for the 74 passengers being picked up.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Great story! Is American actually headed back in the caring about their passengers direction?

  2. Happened to me once when I flew Anchorage-Seattle. We stopped in Juneau to pick up a group of passengers that would have been stranded overnight otherwise.

  3. Yup, excellent move by American. People from DFW likely weren’t connecting in NAS. If they’d been flying to a hub and mostly going onward I might have a different take, but I wouldn’t mind a 90-minute delay to help so many people.

  4. Awww….. doesn’t it just make you want to vomit? It amazes me how you people want to suck up to the scumbag airlines the one time in a million they actually do the right thing for a customer, but the 999,999 times they strand people for their own greed you are silent….and the idiot readers just gobble up your swill despite the fact that they have been or will be screwed over by airline greed at some point in their lives if they fly more than once. Why don’t you try to find at least a bit of ethics in journalism these days and report the whole truth, not just what you think will sell more ads.

  5. Good for American, glad they make special efforts and go the extra mile on occasion.

  6. @Ryan – always can count on one of you to show up. Clearly you’re a fucking moron. Gary posts far more negative about AA than he does positive. So if you’re not able to enjoy this feel good story, no need to click on the blog. Guess they should’nt have done this and stranded those passengers instead, because theres no pleasing your sorry ass. Good thing they dont have to please you nor care, and 74 people can enjoy their vacation

  7. Since the New Orleans passengers got to Nassau they also got to Paradise Island because it is only a 5 minute drive across the bridge to the island.

  8. Kudos, AA. Now, the important question: did they clear upgrades DFW-MSY, and then downgrade them for paying F customers MSY-NAS? Leave the seats empty DFW-MSY? Or just board all the MSY passengers in Y? How can you leave these details out, Gary?!?

  9. 92 paying passengers lost 1,5 hours of their day , apparently intentionally and without recompense from AA. Not a win for them.

  10. Tony, Wow….usually Gary’s fan boys are more the mild under his desk doing their thing type. Did he snub you for a younger prettier thing to hang on his arm at the airport? Guess he doesn’t like the angry possessive type any more than he likes journalistic integrity.

  11. Not to say this wasn’t helpful to the passengers, but before anyone gushes about AA’s alturistic motives here, keep in mind that this was probably the most cost effective way for them to handle rebooking 74 passengers. This turns a 74 passenger rebooking operation into a same-day reassigned flight with a delay. All of those passengers would have been eligible to find alternative options if they wanted to, but this was likely the option that gets them there the earliest, and ultimately most direct option.

    This is also a good reason why you shouldn’t play the hidden city ticketing game. Anyone on that flight who was actually trying to go to charlotte would be in a sticky situation right now.

  12. The hidden city ticketing response was right on point! Could not have said it better! Buying tickets and getting off at the connecting stop could be your worst nightmare!

  13. @Tony, well said! My feelings exactly.
    @Ryan, there are some people who are never happy. And there’s always one of them in any company.
    Get yourself a buggy, moron, and don’t fly. What are doing here, reading Gary’s blog?

  14. Gennady: Thanks for clearing up that you are squarely in the group of ignorant individuals that is part of the problem with Tony right up front, much appreciated.

    For your information being you are a clueless moron who knows nothing about me….I have 3 buggies, all made by BMW because I prefer a vehicle made with standards. Unfortunately, they won’t get me to another country on the other side of an ocean….there for I have to deal with imbeciles like yourself and the concequences of your stupidity on society and business.

    Despite your selfish wishes to the contrary, you don’t have the right to stop me from flying or speaking my mind….so next time don’t bother and save the rest of us all the trouble. If you really want to stop being a worthless selfish drain on society…kick that nasty breathing habit of yours and let those of us with the intelligence and common sense to better things move on with our lives free of your ignorance.

  15. @Ryan Waldron
    I agree with the other posters about your negative comments.
    I believe Gary is a blogger and has never claimed to be a journalist,
    No one is stopping you from setting up your own blog.
    @Gary What J school did you graduate from? Where have you worked as a Journalist?

  16. I wonder if a carrier subject to the EU delay rules would not have done this as it increases the chances of a 2 hour delay which is when the compensation requirement would kick in.

  17. While I happen to think this is a WONDERFUL story all the way around, I’m sure there are those who will bitterly complain about SOMETHING in this delightful tale. They seemingly lurk around the internet 24/7 so they can post their moronic ramblings. How these self-absorbed idiots make it through life is beyond me. It was fascinating to read, for example, that ‘Ryan’ has some kind of BMW dune buggies so that he doesn’t have to fly on a commercial jet. So germane to the topic. It is beyond refreshing to read about airline people who scrambled to solve a problem in such an elegant way.

  18. I wanted to comment on the statement that people going to Nassau probably aren’t going for a business meeting — and want to refer you to an exceptional time in American history (the country, not the airline) which few people know about and that was the establishment of the multibillion dollar Atlantic Philanthropies — one of the world’s largest charities. The story is spelled out in the book “The Billionaire Who Wasn’t” by Color O’Clery. Highly recommended for your summer reading list!

  19. Pete: No thanks, I’ll use it to aid digestion and drive me to combat ignorance and stupidity wherever I see it! Again….if you choose to be part of the ignorant masses (And it is a willful choice of ignorance and selfishness over improving ourselves as a species) just try and stay out of the way of progress or it will run you or your children over one day.

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