American Gave Me 7000 Miles for a Flight Delay, and I Didn’t Even Complain

American begins boarding its standard-configuarion Airbus A321s 35 minutes prior to departure. That’s what is reflected on the gate monitor. But their boarding passes still suggest that boarding starts 30 minutes out.

This is a different issue than gate agents beginning boarding before they’re supposed to in their quest for departures exactly on time (D0) which creates problems for customers who show up when they’re told to and find the plane mostly boarded (and no overhead bin space left) or who show up at the gate early only to find their flight is actually delayed (because American tends to update delays long after they become obvious to anyone in operations). and therefore spend extra time just standing around.

I was flying out of Dallas Fort-Worth on an Airbus A321. Boarding started a few minutes late by the standards of the departure board and boarding passes. But we were running close to on time. As we took off there was a loud noise that came from the right engine, noticeable mostly to those sitting close by. Shortly after the captain comes on, shares that they’re getting vibrations from the engine, and we’d be going back to Dallas.

It was the most direct routing into DFW I’ve ever gotten and I was thrilled once we were safely back on the ground. We stopped short on arrival, received a visual inspection of the engine, and were allowed to proceed to a gate on our own power. The aircraft was taken out of service, and I never minded a delay less.

  • We were quickly assigned a new aircraft. Our new departure time was before that plane was scheduled to land though.
  • Time was pushed back as I expected.
  • Then we lost our crew, and a new crew was going to be brought in so flight time was pushed back again. At this point we were looking at a 5 hour delay. So far so good.

  • At the new departure time our captain hadn’t yet arrived at the airport. But after a short delay the airline decided they could board us anyway.
  • Finally the Captain arrived around our scheduled departure time, but we discovered a new problem: bags had been transferred to the new aircraft, but they couldn’t load the information onto the new flight. That delayed us for an hour, but we were happy they didn’t actually have to offload all the bags and rescan them onto the plane individually.

As I walked off the plane at my destination, a little over six hours delayed, I wondered whether I’d get an email from American. I did. They proactively offered 7000 AAdvantage miles:

I don’t think American owes anybody for going back to Dallas after what was probably a bird strike. Captain made the best call and everybody handled the situation wonderfully.

Issues with crew and with IT systems, though, were on American and responsible for half the delay so I’m glad to see them act proactively. I don’t think the message is quite on point, suggesting the only issue was one of safety. That’s a piece, though, that I’ve never had any concerns about with American at all.

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 was pleasantly surprised by a similar situation two years ago with AA. The smell of smoke wafted through the cabin right after take-off from BOS, and within 5-10 min we were back on the ground. It took them awhile to find another plane for us, and we finally left about 4 hours later (but no issues with crew timing out or other technical difficulties). Similarly, I did not complain (and wouldn’t have thought of it, since the only issue was a safety related one), but also received a similar proactive e-mail a few days later with AAdvantage miles deposited into my account.

  2. @Jon, or you could use common sense and:

    1) Grasp the novel concept of reading a blog without an editor and expecting editing mistakes from time to time.
    2) Not bring up politics where its not needed.

  3. Hmmmm. Last week I was on AA flying to Florida. The co-pilot either could not find or could not get his oxygen mask to work properly so we had to endure a 1.5 hour ground delay. That got us in well after midnight when all the car rentals were closed, leaving me stranded at the airport. You could say it was safety related (as AA tired to portray it) or you could say that AA was just unprepared, not having a spare O2 mask available at a hub airport and keeping 100 people waiting around for an hour and a half. Either way, AA didn’t want to hear about it. Since my time doesn’t cost AA anything , I supposed I’ll never hear from them.

  4. So great that if there’s a safety-related issue in the air, they’ll proactively give you 7,000 miles (if you’re EP).

    But if you’re on the ground and there’s a delay that is entirely their fault, there is NO proactive customer service response. Some of the reasons for significant delays I’ve experienced: missing inbound aircraft (not due to weather, but presumably mechanical), 15 hour mechanical delay to Sao Paulo, crew timing out, LHR ground staff could not find log book with ETOPS certification…

  5. @rjb, I assure you a pilot would have no problem “locating” his oxygen mask. And you clearly have no idea how flight deck oxygen systems work if you think they can just pop on a spare mask and be on their way.

    Sorry you had to “endure” an hour and a half delay so that one of the pilots would continue to be conscious should the cabin lose pressure. Give me a break. If you want miles for it (you don’t deserve them), send an email. I’m sure they’ll placate you.

  6. I wish there was some rhyme/ reason to the amounts of these auto responses.We were delayed 3.5 hrs on MIA-MPX as 1st plane went MX while still on ground. We did arrive at MXP 3.5 hrs late but we arrived behind an A380 so luggage was delayed and the line at immigration was significant.We were travelling on a paid business fare.Two days later without a request from us we each received 4000 auto miles.While I thought the amount was at the low end of the range I would not have felt any better if the amount was 7000 miles.

  7. Glad AA is being proactive for someone. I’ve had multiple flights with problems in the last 1.5 years with nothing but attitude from gate staff and no apology emails from anyone. Once I complained but got so much push back that I’ve decided it’s time to try another airline. AA has serious issues they seemingly don’t want to address.

  8. in the past week I got 2 calls from AA Plat desk asking if I had any issues regarding AA flights. strange since that question was framed very broadly. but seems like they were trying to do something.

  9. Worst ever was trapped in LAX overnight when the pilot for our FTL flight was moved over to the bigger MIA which (we learned later) was half empty and could have taken all of us from the FTL flight, but instead we sat on the plane for an hour until we started getting texted about FTL flight being delayed until next morning. We get off the plane and there’s no one at the gate, wander around a closed AA terminal at LAX. About 3 am I happen to notice a DFW flight which might have been a special section and asked when it could get me to FTL.. No announcement was made in the terminal and most from the FTL flight were sleeping in chairs as it left for DFW more than half empty. When I got to FTL at noon the next day I learned the FTL flight was cancelled.

  10. Gary, do you know if others on your flight got the same? this year i’ve had 2 mechanical issues (both while still on the ground, thankfully) that resulted in cancellations. both times i was offered miles (5000 for one, 7500 for the other), but only after writing emails. i’m curious if your treatment was shared by others, or was due to your status. i don’t have status, and was offered nothing initially in both cases.

  11. My MIA-MXP was canceled on July 1 (after spending 6 hours at the airport), I didn’t get any miles and I have to complain because I had lost 1 night at the hotel (penalty for no show), then I got 5K AA miles with their response. My return in mid August my MXP-MIA was delayed for 4~4.5 hours, next day I got a credit of 15K miles.

    In September after 4 hours delays , my MIA-EZE flight was canceled and moved from 10pm to 9am next day, I lost a complete day in Bs As, but I got another 15K miles without saying anything. I’m ExP but my wife got the same amount and she didn’t have any status (and she was on a different PNR).

  12. This is standard practice for Delta. Every time a flight is delayed more that xx minutes (not sure what that number is) or cancelled all frequent flyers will get points deposited into their account. Normally a letter of apology with the points is sent within 24 hours. The amount of miles depends on your status. My husband always gets a few 1000 more as he is a Platinum.

    The last time I was delayed flying American and missed my connecting flight to Europe was a nightmare. It took me over 3 months to get reimbursed for upgrades I had paid for and never got. Maybe they are finally getting the message, that people don’t use them because of their terrible customer service.

  13. We used to be Delta until 3 years ago, and Delta gave out miles ALL the time for issues. Moved to AA and they could not have cared less on complaints and issues. Fast forward to the last 6 months and AA has been handing out miles like crazy to us lately, we got 20,000 miles each (hubby and I) for a boarding fiasco on a CLT to LHR flight last month by emailing AA. Hubby has also received several generous miles bonuses for complaints in the last few months.

    AA is definitely trying to make it’s EPs happy now, they must finally be realizing that they’ve gutted the program so much that there is no reason to stay.

  14. Great for them to be proactive. I wonder if they’ll be as nice to me – they’ve changed a flight I have in January 5 times in the past 6 weeks. They’ve changed the arrival time by 2 hours, the departure home time by 3 hours, changed a flight entirely, and worse – moved me to a window seat. 🙁

  15. Dallas?

    As a self-professed “thought leader” you should be more attentive to detail and get airports and cities right. For years the company has put out directives that it is “Dallas/Ft. Worth”. Even Doug gets it wrong multiple times on a single corporate earnings call, but you should do better Gary.

  16. @Josh G is really criticizing me for using the same nomenclature as the Chairman and CEO of the airline? He usually criticizes that I’m not enough of an insider.

    Not the first time you’ve kvetched about this one, Josh. Sounds like a personal problem to me…

    And I use my own style book, for instance I continue to refer to DCA as Washington National no matter who wants me to call it Reagan.

  17. Well maybe they were proactive this time, but maybe they really owed you something else? In September I was on a canceled flight from Lisbon to Philadelphia on AA. By law in the EU they were required to advise of our rights and compensate us 600EUR.

    They never advised us of anything, told us the delay and I quote ” was our problem”. Even though they knew 10 hours before our flight was scheduled to depart, it was not going anywhere. Made us wait at the airport for 7 hours and then get shuttled to a hotel, because their weather radar was not working and they have no spare parts outside of their hubs.

    When we finally got back 30 hours later, they sent us 20,000 miles for our inconvenience. When we subitted the forms we found online for compensation owed per the EU, they promptly removed the 20,000 miles from our account with no notification. We did finally get our compensation from the EU claim. But our inconvenience never went away, nor did our lost wages.

    So beware your miles don’t disappear! i did not think an airline could be worse than US Air, boy was I wrong!

  18. @Jon… I thought it sounded more like HRC… Sigh… JK.

    @Josh G… I think the only person quoted as saying “Dallas” was the pilot talking to the passengers. And if he would have said “DFW” or “Fort Worth” half of the passengers may have wondered “Where is that?” or “What is he talking about?” But everyone would recognize Dallas as being the place they just left.
    Also, AA may have a slight prejudice for promoting DFW as DFW or Dallas-Fort Worth since they are headquartered in Fort Worth, not Dallas.

  19. I’ve been delayed due to mechanicals twice in the last two months out of DFW and they’ve proactively given me 5k miles each time (I’m a platinum).

  20. Well, AA173 (RDU-DFW; originally depart at 3:40 PM) changed flight schedule to delay more than 3 hours. I called American Express Travel to correct back the return time, and thus the AA173 flight swap with the AA1052 flight. After then, an arrogant supervisor of American Airlines reluctantly assigned the seat on AA1052. Now, guess what, this AA1052 on 10/23/2016 then delayed 1 hr and 30 min. This American Airlines is a total disaster. All my effort to return DFW within 6 PM on 6/23/2016 has failed.

  21. @Jon

    Jon said: October 27, 2016 at 8:38 am “This reads like a Trump transcript. Get. An. Editor.”

    What would be better, Crooked Hillary emails? Oh wait, that evidence was deleted.

  22. American should have given me 7000 bonus points for the disgusting Chateaubriand they served me in first class from LAX to HKG. Honestly it was just completely uneatable. So much for pre-booking a meal on AA.

  23. Poor morbidly obese Melissa chewing her fat turkey leg off in public again, vomiting her Faux News garbage. Wait! Faux News isn’t even pumping out that bilge any longer. They’ve gone lower with Trump TV!

  24. A year ago, I was ready to board a 5pm Delta flight from DCA – SLC. Weather in the area was an issue, and just prior to boarding, the ground crew announced that the pilots had “timed out” due to the incoming weather delay, and we would depart at 6 am the next morning.

    In an interesting turn of events, about ten of us – all Elites in First Class – received an email at 5:50 am that next morning from Delta consumer affairs profusely apologizing for the flight disruption while awaiting departure. And DL offered us all 10,000 bonus miles for the inconvenience. DL knew they screwed up when they probably could have dead-headed a crew from JFK or ATL knowing the possibility of a “time out” was probable. What impressed me: 1) the incredible timeliness of their apology before departure; when I arrived in SLC, a Red Coat gave me meal vouchers for SLC and for my last leg out of SFO for that long trip home to Palm Springs. But, upgraded on the 2 DL sectors, fed in the airports, and with 10,000 extra miles to boot, I couldn’t complain. I chalked this one up to an “adventure” and applaud Delta for being so proactive after their admitted scheduling screw up.

  25. The extra miles are nice but this all pales in comparison to the unlimited food coupon for Burger King that DragonAir gave me this week for their flight delay from Xiamen to Hong Kong. Too bad i don’t eat Whoppers and especially ones in China.

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