American Airlines Surveying New Ways To Compensate Passengers For Service Failures

Earlier this month American Airlines stopped letting employees offer compensation to customers for broken seats and missing inflight meals. Without warning to employees they suspended the iSolve tool that let employees address problems on the spot, awarding customers with AAdvantage miles.

Instead employees were told to ‘use their Elevate behaviors’ to ‘deescalate’ situations, to actively listen to customers and ‘prevent problems before they occur’. But they could no longer offer substance behind their apologies.

Well, compensation may not be gone for good. The airline appears to be surveying what sort of compensation they should be offering. In addition to miles some of the potential choices included,

  • Admirals Club day pass
  • Day pass for inflight wifi
  • Priority boarding

These are, more or less, small non-bankable gestures that aren’t likely to incur liability on the airline’s books – although they may add crowding to the start of the boarding process, and to the airline’s lounges, at precisely the time when the airline’s best customers will value distancing most.

(HT: ramcm7)

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. I doubt increased crowding in lounges and priority boarding lanes. By and large, passengers who bother to complain are those who already hold lounge memberships or priority boarding privileges.

    The average traveler simply does not care enough to complain about any of those issues listed as eligible for compensation.

  2. @ Gary — I received this survey. I told them refunds would be a preferred method of compensation. I also told them that they should give more miles and/or bigger vouchers when those are the methods of compensation. The rest of the options are of zero interest to me.

  3. They should look into compensating something that equates into elite status. I don’t currently fly American… I’m legacy Continental… meaning united… but the topic is the more or less the same

    And I’m not looking for a place to vent or complain, but 500, 1000? 2000? 5000 Miles???? those values don’t mean anything to someone who flys often. I can’t see how 5000 miles would be valuable to anyone actually?

    Maybe 50, 100, 200 points towards next year’s status would be beneficial to EVERYONE… ??? IDK

  4. MikeL, I actually disagree. 5,000 miles to someone who rarely flies and might not even participate in the FF program means nothing.

    Frequent flyers ascribe an actual value to miles and are more likely to use them. Not everyone is a true road warrior with millions of miles they’ll never use….lots of us are in the middle with usable balances but can always use more.

    Lounge passes, WiFi, etc mean little to most of us with travel credit cards. Heck I’d take a drink vouchers over that…

  5. For those that travel frequently and their elite status shows that, then offer EQM’s. Depending on flight length 500 or even 1,000 could feel good.

  6. Just ridiculous, so things go wrong and EXPs get nothing to compensate. Race to the bottom.

  7. I had a $5k paid business class ticket and my tray table was not working. I asked the FA. The ‘FA’ said “I’m sorry”. I asked for the purser. The purser came and said ‘Im sorry, there is nothing we can do unless you hold back the departure’. When I told him to that I dont mind and they can bring a mechanic to fix the tray table he said ‘im sorry i cant do that’ and he left.

  8. @Frank. You did get the answer you expected. I was on a business class trip TOKYO DFW. 10 he flight , my head set would not work and when o requested a new one all I got was attitude from the FA. Some people just need to do their job or retire.

  9. So FAs have access to Helix?

    As for compensation, I agree with earlier posters that it should depend on the passenger’s status and lounge membership. It’s pointless to offer compensation that a passenger already has (AC day pass for AC member, priority boarding to an elite member). A Flagship Lounge day pass might make sense for an AC member, for example.

  10. The only compensation that truly makes a difference is seating size and legroom. I flew AA on a four leg jaunt first class each way, paid extra for in-cabin animal transport. No food or drink provided due to covid. Carried nothing else save a purse.

    Only one plane had the space to fit my extra small soft sided cat carrier. One nice AA flight attendant (Phillie-Ithaca) switched me across the aisle where there was slightly more room. Rather than crush my kitten and my feet I broke the rules and put him in my jacket for the flight, waiting to exit after those near me left.

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