The End of Getting Real Help From AAngels in American Airlines Clubs?

As someone who flies American Airlines regularly, I place a high value on lounge access. It’s the people who keep me going especially during irregular operations, going above and beyond to get me to my destination.

Entrance to American Airlines Admirals Club Austin

So a recent tweet bears explanation,

What’s going on is that American’s premium services agents, who (among other things) staff the Admirals Clubs, used to work from a command line in the Sabre reservations system but are being transitioned to a graphical overlay that restricts what they’re able to do.

Club agents have been great to me. They’ve done things that aren’t technically procedure but make all the difference in the world as a passenger. For instance,

  • They’ve regularly double booked me giving me ‘backup’ flights just in case I misconnect.
  • They’ve preserved my complimentary 500 mile domestic upgrades when a flight is delayed or cancelled and they move me to another flight (technically only upgrades that have been confirmed and reticketed should be preserved).

These are things they’ve done to get me where I’m going when promised, and get me there in the class of service promised, and that only come into play when the airline’s operations go sideways. But there will be new limits on their ability to do this in the future. (I noted this was coming a year ago.)

The cutover to a single reservation system as part of the American-US Airways merger went smoothly in part because US Airways reservations agents were used to using a graphical interface laid on top of their computer system, and they got to keep a familiar graphical user interface (called Qik) when they transitioned to the American Airlines system.

Now American Airlines agents, used to the old command line system, are being trained in the graphical interface. And they’re not going to be able to use the old more flexible system.

The graphical interface is useful for training from scratch. It’s a challenge to have to transition to a new system once you’ve become familiar with your existing one. And the Qik graphical overlay enforces business rules to a greater extent.

This going to slow down transactions with legacy American Airlines agents until they’re fully comfortable in the system. One of the challenges with the US Airways integration with America West was that legacy US Airways agents — used to working directly in Sabre — had to be trained in the Qik interface and it was slow going when the US Airways website and kiosks failed.

The training is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

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. Sounds just like Delta moving soon 100% over to SNAPP. Older reps hate it as the DLTERM system could do amazing things. With SNAPP it is what the CPU tells them – period!

    BTW with the AUG Delta CPU meltdown it was only DLTERM that saved them SNAPP was all but worthless during the issue (according to a number of reps I spoke to).

  2. And precisely the fact that you were granted privileges you aren’t entitled to is reason why these controls are being put in place. You aren’t important, you should receive the same treatment as other Exec Plats, the CK pax are the big money passengers anyway. And the world has changed since your 2009 glory days at UAL where you could demand compensation for weather delays, SkyKits for defective reading lights on cheap fares. Work on your expectations.

  3. The AA merger with US Airways should never have happened. No one wanted it. Why not train the US Airways emps on the old interface instead? I like DOS.

  4. this is the most negative news out of AA of the decade. forget devaluations and reductions in perks; I just want to get where i’m going. there have been countless times when it’s only the AAngels who have saved me from an endless line at the customer service desk or a long wait in a phone queue that leads to an agent that may or may not actually help me. for a non-Ex-Plat, the AAngels are the #1 thing that makes AA’s operational shenanigans tolerable. if working with the AAngels in the old US hubs is any indicator, that safety-net is being reduced greatly. i’m genuinely worried.

  5. Why do you feel compelled to point out that you mentioned this a year ago? Rolleyes.

    Yes, we know you’re very smart. Yes, we know you have connections to get information. Yes, we know newspapers interview you.

    Yawn. Unnecessary. Jibberish.

  6. @ Mark

    Gary has to assert himself and constantly remind everyone he is a subject matter expert/thought leader. He has been lucky and is effective at leveraging social media and self-promotion. Real thought leaders (BCG, McKinsey, think tanks, IATA, Airline Data Project at MIT) don’t have to constantly remind everyone they’re a thought leader. Many of Gary’s predictions and “forgone conclusions” haven’t exactly panned out either. He includes the links in his posts so his flock clicks them and generates more hits and starts a positive feedback loop.

  7. Without the ad hominem attacks towards Gary, I think we ALL knew this was coming…to the Admirals Club (of which I am not a member, but have utilized their “service” as an EP on an int’l itinerary), to the EP desk, to airport agents, and so on and so forth.

    No one is treating EPs any differently because they have a membership to the AC. This is just one of many ways America West management is removing any sort of positive customer experience.

  8. @Josh – very good point. For the few that click the links of prior posts, he gets credit for those additional clicks.

  9. @Josh are you the guy that always spouts off that if you want to fly first class, buy first class like ‘you’ do (most likely with OPM).

    what’s worse than the ‘entitled’ ExP is the douches who are spoiled by their corporate travel dept who pays for their forward cabin travel. i know a redneck who is CK bc of his premium travel for an energy company. he has an IQ that is 2 digits and stands in his driveway/sit’s in his garage and gets drunk every night like the rest of the rednecks- on bud light… but, ya know, he’s a god on AA- lol

    point being, just bc your (likely) inconsequential job carries a contract where you get indulged with premium cabin travel on AA (an oxymoron in most cases) on OPM, doesn’t make you anything either. you’re born, you die like everyone else and then you’re worm food. the end. special? not.

    but it is nice in the shit storm that is AA when you forge relationships with workers in lounges who, mainly because you treat them well even when you need nothing from them, they take care of you when you do need help. so, yeah… they have the ability to circumvent some things that, frankly, get in the way of a logical resolution sometimes. taking that away from them, to use at their discretion, is stupid. ergo, Gary is right, you’re wrong.

  10. I had a situation at Mia where I was trying to get on an earlier flight. Gate agent wouldn’t put me on list because there were no seats for sale and Qik wouldn’t allow it. Went to the lounge and the agent did it through saber. Went back to the gate and lonand behold cleared the flight. Gate agent was pissed and was going to report the folks in the lounge. He acted like I was breaking a rule. I’m like dude – I just want to get home a little earlier. Why is that a crime if there’s a seat left – shouldn’t I have a right to it as a exp?

  11. I pay out of pocket for first or business class seats 80-90% of the time I fly (unless it is a very short flight). And no, I am not a corporate executive. I just like to travel comfortably. Yet, even when flying in premium cabin, the new policies are just as customer unfriendly. I am just saddened of the US Airways-ification of AA. This is one of the hardest hits to any loyal AAdvantage flyer. As close as a year ago, The AAngels would go out of their way to help and that will sorely be missed. These days, The general response is “We don’t do that!” (To requests that were previously allowed) I’ve heard this at legacy AA Admirals Clubs at hubs in DFW and JFK. I have saved up almost 500k AAdvantage miles and I am thinking that I will use them in 2017 (while I finish my Platinum status)and cut ties with being loyal to any one particular carrier. I am planning on canceling my AAdvantage Credit Card with Admirals Club access also, since I will not longer just fly AA. I recently got the Chase Sapphire Reserve and love it! The only issue I have is the lack of lounges to visit pre-departure. I have gotten spoiled with being able to go to the lounge beforehand, though paying 450 a year is no longer worth it to me.

  12. No AAngels for me. At 4:50pm last Monday I’m in Philly club for a 5:50 flight to Memphis thru Chicago. I ask if I can switch to non-stop to MEM leaving at same time if there is room. Without checking for space, Angel says only with $200 change fee and probably other ticket charges. I don’t travel like I once did, but I’ve been an Admiral’s Club member since 1967 and service is not even close to days of old.

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