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.
— Andrew Kimmel (@andrewkimmel) January 1, 2020
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.
MADE IT BACK TO LA!!! Time to change out of my two-day outfit and celebrate. Have fun out there tonight ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Vtk3YGHnnc
— Andrew Kimmel (@andrewkimmel) January 1, 2020
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!
Reaching Executive Platinum status isn't easy. For those who make it, the benefits are amazing! We're happy you'll make your goal!
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) December 31, 2019
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:
@andrewkimmel Oh no, Andrew. We're so sorry, we only saw the one tweet where you included our handle. We will meet you in DMs.
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) January 1, 2020
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.