Customer Asks American Airline’s Twitter Team For Help, And They Kicked His Companion Off The Flight

An American Airlines Executive Platinum elite member reached out to the airline’s twitter team for help with a reservation – and the twitter team wound up kicking their companion off the flight.

The member shared they’re flying out of Oklahoma City on ‘web special’ award tickets booked under separate reservations. They confirmed earlier flights using American’s mobile app. Then he tweeted American asking for help to sponsor the friend’s upgrade as his companion.

However,

Instead of doing so, the AA Twitter agent unilaterally removed him from the new confirmed flight and placed him back on the original later flight despite the app allowing us to change in the first place.

He then wrote this snide, passive-aggressive reply with a final “really sorry.” So now we’re both separated and the flights are sold out. At the very least, this is a huge customer service foul. How is this not an involuntary schedule change?

Here’s the message from American Airlines twitter:

Now, Executive Platinum members receive free same day changes, and so do their companions on the same reservation. However in this case the companion wasn’t on the same booking. And since it was a web saver award, no changes are permitted. The agent took it upon themselves to undo what they decided shouldn’t have been allowed.

Yet American offered the change for free. They completed the change. The customer service agent kicked the the passenger off the flight they’d changed onto.

I asked American whether twitter agents were now allowed to make involuntary changes to a passenger’s itinerary. They confirmed for me that this should not have happened, and they restored the booking.

This was an error, not a policy change. The team has been in contact with the customer who shared this with you and he and his companion have been accommodated on their original flight and with the upgrade requests. We’re also following up with the team to better handle this in the future.

I do think there’s a lesson here, and it’s one that I’ve talked about for many years. If you’ve gotten something from an airline that you aren’t strictly entitled to, just go with it. You don’t want additional eyes on your reservation, because the next agent could decide to do something unpleasant.

Why would this agent care? Why would they do something like this? Perhaps they’ve had a bad day. Perhaps it gives them a sense of control in a job that gives them very little. When you contact someone for customer service, you never know who you’re going to get on the other end of things. Often you don’t even get simple things that you’re entitled to which is why you hang up, call back.

Another lesson is that while the American Airlnes twitter team was once amazing (both pre-merger with US Airways and in the short period thereafter) that no longer seems to hold.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Why, the article asks?
    AA hates women.
    AA hates men.
    AA presumes the companion is LGBTQIA and hates them.
    AA presumes a straight couple and agent hates it.
    AA is anti Black.
    AA is anti White
    AA thinks pax is rich and hates rich people
    AA is anti Muslim
    AA hates the tweets made by pax

    Choose one and become outraged.

  2. They need to clarify this policy. As an EXP, I always want my companion and me to be split so upgrades go 1 seat at a time. They’ve recently made a change where they split out the PNR to do this with is already a PITA. If on the “web special” mileage ticket this severely blocks my companion from making the same changes as me, this would be a disappointing change.

  3. AA Twitter changed me to a later flight on the final leg of my trip to PSP because my first leg was delayed after boarding.. However, the confirmation that I got right away showed my final destination as MSP, not PSP. Oops. At least they were responsive and well intentioned. So I texted my office and had them change it the old fashioned way: by a phone call. All good.

  4. I find the difference in customer service between agents breathtaking. I understand it’s a big operation but when I call/tweet/ask a gate agent I really have no idea what kind of reaction to expect. I dread any communication with AA and always feel guilty asking for help, like I’m some burden or problem to deal with.

  5. So I had two very frustrating encounters with American this past week. Executive Platinum booked on a round trip direct flights from STL to PHL. Called on Tuesday (within 24 hours of flight) asking to change outbound flight to a later time. Specifically said right at the beginning that I didn’t want to switch if it cost more money. Put me on hold and came back and said it was done and there was no cost. So on Wednesday I went to check in and noticed I had no return flight. WHAT? I called and the agent said that the original agent had cancelled the return when he put me on the original flight. That is why there was no cost. I could stay on that flight but it would cost me $1125. Or go back to my original flight. Only I had changed my meetings based on the new ticket. Asked for supervisor. She admitted the original agent had made a huge mistake but wasn’t willing to fix it. I persisted and she finally did but made a big deal about she was making a major exception. Really?? For their mistake.

  6. ” If you’ve gotten something from an airline that you aren’t strictly entitled to, just go with it. ”

    Absolutely. In 2009 I scored $550 round trip fares on Continental doing HNL-GUM-YAP-ROR and ROR-GUM-HNL. We had to book it through their international fare desk over the phone when we were emailed the cost we were convinced the fare desk screwed up the price because it shouldn’t have been that cheap. But we said nothing and took our trip. Today you couldn’t book that itin for less than $1,300-$2,000.

  7. Maybe the agent who made the mistake was new.
    Maybe the agent who mAde the mistake had to work even though their home was destroyed due to the weather event in TX were no one had heat or electric for days and the agent wasn’t 100%.

    Maybe the agent had a family member die recently.

    It’s possible people make mistakes. It’s not just all about you sometimes.

    Oh and the same happens at Delta, United, Southwest, etc. It’s not just AA.

    That’s just life. But Gary Leff has a huge chip on his shoulder against AA and it’s getting boring.

  8. Understand if my original agent made the mistake by deleting my return flight. I even said that to the agent. But the next two agents unwillingness to fix American’s mistake and wanting to charge me over $1000 is just totally wrong.

  9. For all that people complain about the AA Executive team, I switched from AA because of their staff – from their phone support to their in-flight crew. Horrible, resentful, bitter employees.

    While this behavior is tolerated from the top, it is rampant and uncontrolled throughout AA (and UA, let’s be fair).

    If @Gary “has a chip on his shoulder” about AA, so be it. His blog helped an EXP, when AA themselves didn’t. I’m glad to see that happen because that’s what this business has sunk to.

    Good job, @Gary. Keep it going.

  10. Not sure why, in this day and age, any of you are surprised when a US airline treats their paying customers like absolute garbage. It has been their standard operation procedure for many many years now.

  11. This pax seems like an over-entitled cheapskate. He could afford enough to become a top-tier elite, yet books the most restricted ticket and then expects a silver platter. If he wanted a certain flexibility ticket and cabin for himself and his company, he could have booked that from the get-go.

    Not defending any poor customer service from the side of AA, but this guy does not get my sympathy. And as Gary stated, if you have been provided with a benefit that you weren’t actually eligible for, take it and don’t rock the boat.

  12. My policy: simply book good coach seats at time of booking. Biz Class is not much of an upgrade any longer. Only bonus is first group to sit and exit. Too much hype is made of biz class nowadays.

  13. Hi – slightly unrelated. I flew AA last week in Business (short haul international), and one of the inclusions per the Travel Experience section of AA’s website was Admirals Lounge access. I was denied entry at O’hare, and I was denied being able to ask a supervisor. The check in agent did have a printed leaflet that supported her position, but the website, which is what I used to make the purchase decision, was in my favour.

    Anyhow, the AA airport staff didn’t care. I wrote a note to customer relations, and they didn’t care either. (They gave me a script response unrelated to my concern.) I later received a phone call that AA doesn’t compensate customers if services are denied.

    Is this normal for AA? Not sure if there’s anything I can do. I do feel like it’s unjust as I purchased a service with stated inclusions and was then denied part of the services. Not sure where to turn or if I’m acting entitled?

  14. There are 2 Fundamental words to describe all that is wrong with AA. DOUG PARKER. He has ZERO concerns about customer service or experience. He needs to be CEO Of a mortgage or Credit Agency… Not hospitality industry. Ps I’ve got 700k on AA

  15. I’m a gate agent. It seems extra to go and undo what was already done. I could see saying there was a mistake and the companion wasn’t entitled to the flight change in the first place so they would be unable to process the upgrade.

    It’s probably someone who was thinking they were saving the company money and thinking they were doing the right thing or trying to prevent the customer thinking he’s entitled everytime to moving his companion despite him having a restricted ticket.

    @AH33 I don’t know what it said when you had your trip but the website now says qualifying First and Business class customers are allowed acces to the club. A big keyword there is qualifying. Though maybe they changed the wording if it used to be worded different and caused confusion.

  16. Why I simply choose to take my business to Delta and fly American only when beyond necessary. AA employees seem to be the least happy in the industry and take it out on the customers. No reason, just cause. Shame.

  17. I am laughing at these responses. Such a “class war” here. The elite customer has spent so much money with AA, that he has earned a high status. How is it wrong to get a “bargain” but still expect stellar customer service? Is it not possible that this customer didn’t know every minute rule of AA?

    And … Then you have the low class on here getting so excited that AA was “sticking it to him” when he (supposedly) could have just afforded any ticket on the books because they are elite. How dare them expect more.

    Lol… You people trip me out. How about a company (or agent) always doing the right thing… Looking out for the customer…no matter what level they are or perceived to be? There’s no question this agent was a dick. They’d never want that done to them – period, and any problems in their personal life — NOT an excuse at all. If life is that bad take a PTO day (AA offers them). Don’t make excuses for bad behavior when it’s their #1 job (it’s in the title: CUSTOMER Service).

    Also… completely agree about Doug Parker. He (and his minions) need to GO! Either call AA a budget carrier or GTFO and bring in someone who can make positive change. I’d fly Delta if I could, but I’m in an AA hub and have no real options without paying near double the fare or having tons of connections.

  18. Its a nasty airline with entrenched union members who hate their jobs and people. I recently chopped my American Airlines credit card in an effort to limit my flying with them.

  19. (Not Exec) Platinum AA Member: It’s people like you that are the real problem. It’s the “I can’t be bothered to make an extra connection so I will just continue giving them my money anyways.” attitude that enables them to stay in business without change. Until lazy selfish people actually vote with their wallets, nothing will ever change in US business.

    Take a lesson from John M Marshall who actually bothered to make a sacrifice instead of just complaining and doing nothing that requires any real effort

  20. I have always loved AA until the Pandemic. I had flight booked to LAX, which was cancelled. I requested my money’s back! It was refused by AA. After I use this ticket, it will be my last.

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