American Airlines Rebooking Agent Insists Passenger Date Him After Flight Diverts To Miami

An American Airlines passenger thought she was flying non-stop from St. Thomas to Chicago O’Hare airport, but found out that she was actually on a flight to Miami.

And she says she was pressured by an American Airlines employee in Miami to give up her Instagram and phone number for a possible date in order to get rebooked home to Los Angeles.

  • The woman reports that her flight simply showed as delayed, despite this diversion, and that passengers were initially held on the aircraft.

  • Eventually everyone was released from the flight.

    Since the flight shows a nearly 7 p.m. arrival in Chicago, most everyone on board would have been looking at overnighting there – given the amount of time immigration and rebooking can take. Apparently nobody was given hotel rooms. (Not that you’d want any room American Airlines would provide for free.)

What’s interesting here is what rebooking in Miami was finally like.

  • The agent helping her asked for her Instagram. She gave it, and the agent followed her. He asked if she had a boyfriend. He asked if she’d date anyone while she had the boyfriend? (She answered yes, and no.)

  • He asked for her phone number. She was afraid he wouldn’t rebook her unless she flirted back.
@alyssaannaaa @American Airlines ♬ original sound – alyssanotfound

My first reaction when I saw that the passenger was surprised by landing in Miami, without anyone saying that a diversion was happening, was to assume passenger confusion over “non-stop” versus “direct.”

  • A direct flight looks like a non-stop flight. It has a single flight number, and shows where you start and where you end up. But it actually stops somewhere along the way.

  • Once upon a time it might have meant at least you’re on the same aircraft (Southwest does this, and you do not even have to get off the plane). That harkens to a time when planes couldn’t fly long distances, and when airline routes were dictated by the government (often to serve political constituencies).

  • With most airlines now it’s just like any other connecting flight – you get off, find your connecting gate. The connection might even take off without you if your flight is delayed.

Always know the difference between non-stop (what you want) and “direct” (a misleading term, and what you want to avoid)!

American Airlines flies once-weekly on Saturdays in each direction between Chicago and St. Thomas. And they do not offer any ‘one-stop direct’ service. It wasn’t customer confusion. The flight did head to Miami instead of Chicago, and it sounds like there was very poor communication with passengers.

It doesn’t surprise me that ground staff in St. Thomas wouldn’t be helpful, but I’d have expected clarity from the captain. Maybe there was, but cockpit communications with the cabin can sometimes be muddled (with the PA system itself not functioning clearly).

On Saturday January 27th American Airlines flight 1062 was delayed about an hour and a half in St. Thomas, and flew to Miami – where the Airbus A319 sat for five hours before continuing to Chicago, finally arriving at O’Hare airport at 1:16 a.m. Obviously any connecting passengers blew their connections if they continued on that aircraft.

If this customer’s story is accurate, it reflects very poorly on American Airlines ground staff in Miami. Unprofessional behavior, and poor customer service, certainly resonates with my experience at that station. It’s also not the first time an airline employees has sexually harassed a customer.

Five years ago an American Airlines employee at the San Diego airport started texting a passenger to hit on her, using contact details from her profile. I didn’t write about it at the time it happened, because the airline convinced me that this could happen in any industry with any frontline employee – it wasn’t a story. But it eventually became news (and a lawsuit).

I suppose self-service tools for check in and rebooking aren’t just a way for the airline to save labor costs, and increasing to service customers how they expect, but also a way to avoid awkward interactions with employees who might behave badly – and make their help contingent on flirting. Sigh.

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. This did happen . The flight crew asked her for contact details and pressured her to date with him or she won’t get a flight . There is no proof needed . Because she said this happen and she is a woman

  2. Why do people hold that stupid little microphone?! Why not just clip it on like you are supposed to and be done with!

  3. To add further possible confusion to the difference between “direct” and “non-stop” – in Europe, “direct” does mean non-stop.
    You can see this on, where when you filter the results by “Direct” it shows non-stop flights, and there is no option to filter by “non-stop”. On, you can filter results by “nonstop.”

  4. Oops, two comments to the same story.

    Passengers from St. Thomas to the US mainland go through customs in St. Thomas, not at the mainland point of arrival.

  5. If the AA agent even made even any reference to helping based on sharing of unneeded information or for a date they should be terminated immediately. That is such gross behavior.

  6. Diversions happen frequently on the longer routes out of STT, think ORD and IAH. I’ve had it a couple of times. The short runway at STT often leads to a choice of bumping a significant number of passengers and trying to both accommodate them overnight and find space off the island the next day.

  7. Would you cover the same story now — if the circumstances were pretty much the same as with that San Diego incident — if the airline told you this could and does happen with other airlines?

    I remember when that San Diego texting situation got discussed in other forums before it became a blogger and news item. Didn’t realize that the airline tried to get bloggers to bury the story at the time, but it’s interesting to know that is how the airline operated in response to inquiries about questionable agent behavior.

  8. JohnDCA,

    Because the so-called insular possessions of the US aren’t part of the US territory for customs purposes.
    As CBP used to tell or provide printed material to some GE applicants saying something like this:

    “Insular possessions that are not part of the customs territory include the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, American Soma, Wake Island, Midway Islands, and Johnson Atoll. Because these insular possessions are outside the territory of U.S. customs, they require a customs declaration”.

    That is even on trips as a US citizen from such US insular possessions to the US states.

  9. JohnDCA,

    No passport required for US citizens to travel non-stop from the US Virgin Islands to the statutorily-declared customs territory of the US, but customs declaration required as USVI I was allowed by the USG to have its own customs duty collections and customs laws and regulations set by the USVI politicians instead of by the politicians and bureaucrats in the Beltway.

  10. About 7 years ago, I flew DTW – MIA – LHR in domestic first and business class (on an award ticket) and the service in first was the worst I’ve ever experienced. I still regret not complaining about it. The Flight attendant yelled at me because I went to take my drink from his hand and he wanted to set it on the try. The international business class flight was below standard but nowhere near as bad as on the first leg.

  11. ” If they were going to refuel and go, passengers wouldn’t have been allowed off – since immigration and customs were involved.”

    Are you sure? In December I took an AA flight from St Lucia to Charlotte which diverted to Miami for refueling because St Lucia didn’t give them enough. We were informed that everyone had to deplane in Miami to go through Immigration & Customs, as we had arrived in the US. So we did.

    My final destination was Tampa. The delay meant I’d miss my connection in Charlotte, so AA auto-rebooked me for the next day, and I’d have to stay there overnight. So I called AA as soon as we landed and got one of the last few MIA-TPA seats that night. I wasn’t about to wait to wait for a re-booking agent at MIA.

  12. @GUWonder – I think that story was different. It was bad behavior, but here the agent was hitting on the customer while in a position to get them to their destination or not. They’re exercising power over the passenger, even if it’s implicit.

  13. The San Diego story was different, but I’m curious whether you would go for covering it sooner today if the same kind of story came up today and whether the airline would try to dissuade coverage of it nowadays. Did they try to do so with regard to this MIA incident?

    That SAN incident and this MIA incident gave off what I consider to be creep vibes, but I guess that is in the eye of the beholder. Both of these incidents embody a lack of professionalism on the part of airline employees with a presumably lustful eye for some of their customers.

  14. She shouldn’t have tried to rebook in Miami as it caused problems. Let the agent in Chicago do the rebooking.

  15. She’s a dog. Nobody hit on her.
    She’s just another attention-seeking Gen Z’er who is uninterested in gainful employment.

  16. “Since the flight shows a nearly 7 p.m. arrival in Chicago, most everyone on board would have been looking at overnighting there – given the amount of time immigration and rebooking can take.”

    I see people debating customs, but there certainly wouldn’t be immigration to deal with.

  17. Chris,

    Sexist much, and unfamiliar with how attraction is in the eye of the beholder? Certainly ageist. Why not acknowledge horndogs are horndogs and too many are willing to push the limits of decency while trying their luck to “get some”.

    How do you know if she’s interested in gainful employment or not? Don’t judge a book by the cover (art)? The lasting merit of a person isn’t evident by outward appearance, so why not have some respect for people regardless of whether they look like your unattractive idols Elon Musk and Lord T r ump or not?

  18. LMAO , looking for money! If she is so concerned about being stalked on social media , but will now make more videos for social media …give me a break !!

  19. About 20 years ago, I flew a UA “direct” flight between BOS-NRT. In each direction, you switched aircraft from a 737 (BOS-ORD) to a 747 (ORD-NRT) and vice versa. Same flight number, different gates and a different terminal on my return flight as the 747 landed at T5 for customs/immigration while the 737 was in T1. Might as well have been a connecting flight, but on paper it looked like one plane with one quick stop. Not the case.

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