The Insane Mileage Run-Mexican Prison Story From An Ex-Producer Of The Bachelor Was Mostly True

The story of a “mileage run gone wrong” by a former producer of The Bachelor lit up the internet. It was a crazy story of a last minute flight out of the country to earn American Airlines status that went bad.

Many observers have tried to pick apart the story as ‘too good’. It turns out to be at least mostly true.

  • He said he needed $275 elite qualifying dollars for status with American Airlines
  • So he flew to Mexico for the night, planning to return to Los Angeles on December 31

A Tourist Scam Becomes A Night In Mexican Jail

Andrew Kimmel went out drinking, and says he was the victim of a scam where he’s massively overcharged for his beer. He claimed:

  • That the cops were in on the scam
  • That he was thrown in jail
  • He passport was taken – and not returned
  • He was bailed out by a Kenyan woman
  • Who kissed him in the airport and offered to spend the night with him if he didn’t make it out

He definitely traveled without a passport. American Airlines confirms this. The extent to which cops were in cahoots with the bar and his finding romance is what, it seems to me, is in question. But it’s a great story.

The Bar Claims They Didn’t Scam Kimmel

The bar disputes the claim that he was charged $300 for 2 beers. They’ve posted video to Facebook showing him with champagne. Although as One Mile at a Time points out, the fact that he was being videotaped could have been precisely a part of the scam. A woman sits down, orders expensive drink, he’s charged way more than anyone would ever expect for it. That’s exactly how the Chinese tea ceremony scam works, video just makes it better. For their part, however, the bar disputes they scammed him.

Here’s the video the bar posted to Facebook:

I’ve Been Skeptical Of The Romance Claim From The Beginning

Kimmel is at the airport, mid-afternoon with no passport, only minutes to his flight. And that’s when he gets kissed out of the blue by a Kenyan woman he’s just met who offers to let him spend the night with her if he can’t make it on a flight out?

He posted a text he says is from the woman who bailed him out – who he claims kissed him and offered to share her place with him – but it’s nowhere as solicitous as he’d suggested she was. He offers her a place to stay, she wants him to transfer money to her bank.

The LAX Gate Photo Turns Out To Be Legit

One thing that struck many commenters as dubious – and that made One Mile at a Time call b.s. – was the final photo of his return to L.A. He was at an LAX departure gate, but had supposedly returned from Mexico. He’d have had to go through customs and immigration and would have been dumped out landside, before security, not at a gate.

This one actually makes perfect sense.

  • He didn’t make his 3:07 p.m. departure to Los Angeles, since he had to return his rental car.

  • It appears that American confirmed him on the next flight, through Phoenix, as a courtesy.

That’s actually great customer service from the American Airlines agent because American doesn’t actually allow same day confirmed changes or standby on Mexico flights. American tells me, “our airport team in Los Cabos took care of him, including working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

American Airlines Twitter Got A Bad Rap

The American Airlines Twitter team was criticized for their response. After Kimmel’s first tweet, saying he was short of qualifying dollars and mileage running, they replied how great Executive Platinum status is and well worth the hassle!

At that point they didn’t know he claimed to have been in a Mexican jail. They should have held back on a response, because Kimmel’s tweet ended “Here’s how my [expletive] night went…” But it wasn’t as tone deaf as it appeared.

In fact they quickly followed up, because the story went viral, realizing they had gotten it wrong:

That all seems fair enough.

What This Story Is Really About

The story really is about the bad judgment of one flyer. He did a 24 hour trip to Mexico for his mileage run – December 30 and 31 – instead of a simple domestic same day roundtrip. During his night he fell victim to a tourist scam, whether or not is was as crazy a night as he made it out to be. He lost his passport and he was late to the airport to make it home – risking his flight back, and the very status he was trying to preserve.

The impressive part of the story has nothing to do with the Mexican jail (or getting great customer service from American Airlines). It’s the luck he was in, showing up at the airport, and getting American Airlines to contact Customs and Border Protection for permission for him to fly without a passport – and receiving that permission promptly and without difficulty.

U.S. citizens are entitled to enter their home country, even without a passport, however the process can be really cumbersome and involve a lot of questioning. On New Year’s Eve someone was in a good mood at Phoenix CBP.

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. Just a social media ho grabbing attention, this day and age, people intentionally do dumb things for 15min of internet fame.

  2. This guy made two big mistakes.

    First, he caried his passport. Should have just had a copy with him. I reduce my passport data page, copy it and laminate it with acopy of my driver’s license on the other side.

    Second, in Mexico, never run up a credit card bar bill in anyplace other than a major chain hotel. Pay cash for each round.

  3. Thanks for coping the research and getting this one right. Very interesting, and could happen to anyone.

  4. I kinda hope “Megan” was in on the scam too and works for the bar and/or the cops – and they get their $337 anyway.

  5. Why does a video being done suggest a scam? It seems like everything is video recorded, especially any celebrations. People can’t dine out without taking some pictures.

  6. For me, suspicion arose with the last minute $400 airfare from LA to Los Cabos. This fare on short notice is typically more than $1,000. He had just returned from Indonesia when he realized he was short $275 in AA travel. And I thought the cost of living was always higher in California.
    BTW, the photo in the LAX airport is real.

  7. It’s still suspect to me. I googled Urban Bar and, apart from this case, could not find anything about a bar tab scam. I was nearly a victim of such a scheme in Shanghai, but the tea room was through an unmarked storefront and an empty room leading to a space out of view from either the street or the entry space. That raised all the red flags I needed and I told my very attractive “escort” I was really in the mood for McDonald’s, which broke up the “relationship” very quickly and effectively. Kimmel saying “that’s you” on the video simply could be “I bought it for you.”

    I don’t doubt there was some sort of misunderstanding and miscommunication during the course of the night, and the bar owner’s actions with the passport were unfriendly (do most people carry a passport to a bar where they’re going to be drinking?), but to me the jury is still out on what really happened.

  8. Looking back on my 50 years of international travel, a lot of the stories that ended badly started with a couple of drinks

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