American Airlines overbooking - a dire warning

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by jlou, May 3, 2005.

  1. jlou

    jlou Junior Member

    May 30, 2004
    19
    0
    Brisbane
    We discovered a little nasty when we turned up for our 1659 AA flight from New Orleans to Las Vegas, via Dallas Fort Worth. Were told (rather abruptly) at check in that we would have to get our boarding pass "at the gate" as the flight was overbooked.

    At the gate we were told to check back at 1630 10 mins before the flight was due to board as the flight was overbooked - no further info given. I pressed and was told that we didn't have a seat allocated, despite having a confirmed flight, paid for about a year earlier... We would have to wait to see if anyone volunteered to take a later flight. Still not told what would happen if not enough volunteers. After pressing, told we'd be put on a later flight. After I pointed out (very calmly of course.... :) ) that we had a connecting flight to catch, they found a direct flight on another airline they could put us on - but it was not leaving until 2100 and with no AA lounge in the New Orleans terminal (and suffering significant after effects from a night drinking Hurricanes) we were not overly enthused about that kind of wait, or arriving in Las Vegas at 2330 (if it had happened, I would have attempted to coerce a taxi voucher out so we could go back to the French Quarter!!)

    We were told the fault lay with our travel agent (Qantas Holidays) as they had not allocated a seat. Very odd as we had seats allocated on every sector of our RTW itinerary except for AA flights...

    Meanwhile we called Qantas US to find out what was going on and they had no idea what we were talking about and said their system didn't allow them to allocate seats (which explains why all our BA flights had seat allocation but not AA flights).

    In the end they got enough volunteers who were coerced into a later flight with a US$300 travel voucher. However, we were not sitting together :evil:

    Needless to say, I insisted that they go through and ensure our seats were allocated for the remaining AA flights.

    The moral of this story is - when you book an AA flight, ask if your seats have been allocated. Then contact AA as soon as you arrive in the US to make absolutely sure. Or you may end up waiting around in a terminal. And even if it has an Admirals Club (unlikely) you will be lucky to get one free drink (see other thread). And there is nothing to eat on the plane (pretzels are not food).
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    Of course, you are apparently entitled to compensation for being bumped but depending on the reason for your flight, that may not help you very much....

    I am in the process of contacting Qantas Hols now that I am back, to find out what happened...
     
  2. NM

    NM
    Moderator

    Aug 27, 2004
    15,698
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    Some people in the USA make a good business out of booking flights they know are likely to be oversold, volunteering for a bump and taking the $300 vouchers. At peak times it is a real art to book an earlier flight than you need, volunteer for a bump onto the later flight, and use the bump compensation voucher to fund the next trip.

    If you can do this on a $100 fare, the earnings are be worthwhile for some free trips later - which you book at peak times and volunteer for a bump again etc. Just have to be happy to sit around an airport for several hours between flights.

    Some people have been known to manage multiple bumps on the same day, going from one flight to the next and then the next, collecting a bump voucher each time.

    US$300 is pretty standard offer. Can get higher if they get desperate. If they don't get enough volunteers, then they have to pay those that are denied boarding in cash, which the airlines hate, so they try hard to entice enough volunteers.

    As for seat allocations, I always call AA directly to allocate seats, even in Frist Class. And if travelling on AA in First or Business, you need to remember FEBO for meal services. They take meal order preferences starting from the Front on Even flight numbers and from the Back on Odd flight numbers. And they always run out of the popular meal choices. On one flight last week there were something like 16 people in F, and the first 7 people all chose the chicken disk. The last 9 all had no choice but the mushroom pizza. Luckily I knew about FEBO and has booked a seat that allowed me to select the chicken.

    Welcome to the world of airline travel in the USA :p .
     
  3. jlou

    jlou Junior Member

    May 30, 2004
    19
    0
    Brisbane
    The thought of making money out of it did cross our minds - certainly worthwhile if you are not in a hurry. Another concern I had was if they had put us on another carrier, I assume we would not have got our FF points. Given the AA 500 minimum points each for two relatively short trips, would have been even more peeved.

    Will remember the FEBO if I am ever fortunate enough to fly on an AA flight which actually gives me a meal!!
     
  4. Bob

    Bob Member

    Jun 8, 2004
    180
    7
    Brisbane (sometimes)
    On my flight Chicago to Narita a week ago AA had overbooked business class by 4 seats. They had 3 spare first class seats so I guess one person got bumped from business to economy. (not me :D )

    I had tried to get seat allocation via both QF and AA prior to the flight but was told it was not possible.
     
  5. BlacKnox

    BlacKnox Active Member

    Jan 29, 2005
    732
    13
    Bob, re: AA Chicago - Narita J flight - How was it?
     
  6. JamesF

    JamesF Intern

    Apr 15, 2005
    62
    0
    SYD
    jlou, re: not getting points if getting bumped to another airline. Theres been a few times that AA have cancelled a flight on me and rebooked me onto another airline. I have faxed through to Qantas (Melbourne) the boarding pass from the other airline, along with details of the ticket number and how much paid to AA, and they have credited me with the points/SCs as if I flew on the original AA flights.

    sorry you had to experience the 3rd world airlines here. Makes you appreciate that hot meal on QF on the SYD-MEL flight now!

    regards
    James
     
  7. mick

    mick Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    352
    29
    It's funny you should mention this. I've only recently finished booking my OW RTW ticket and all the different carriers automatically had seat allocations for me according to my QFF profile, except the AA flight segment. So, I logged onto aa.com myself, keyed in the AA booking reference number and allocated my own seat (which is quite a good service, actually - wish I had the choice to do that with QF flights!).

    Here's hoping this prevents me from being bumped! :)
     
  8. Bob

    Bob Member

    Jun 8, 2004
    180
    7
    Brisbane (sometimes)
    Did the usual, took a sleeping pill, put in the earplugs, put on the eyeshades and slept for as long as possible early in the flight in order to start getting my body into the right time zone. Of course the flight goes at the wrong time of the day (11 AM) for that strategy to be really effective - late night departure LAX to BNE is much better.

    Anyway, when I was awake, the trip was fine; good service; nice to see out the window as we tracked over the arctic ice between Alaska and Siberia; arrived on time in NRT. The really good thing about AA J class is the amount of space between the rows of seats. Even with full recline you can step out over someone's feet without disturbing them. I noticed a stark contrast with CX on the next leg, my feet were hard up against the seat in front. On the plus side, CX then put me in first for HKG to BKK - pity it was such a short flight.
     
  9. Yada Yada

    Yada Yada Established Member

    Dec 6, 2004
    1,872
    8
    1F
    I was travelling in the USA with my wife and three kids (aged 1, 6 & 11) a few years ago and had an AA flight from LAX to ATL via St Louis. We were told to get our boarding passes at the gate, and when we got there were advised that we'd all be sitting in different seats.

    I pointed out to the customer service rep that two of my kids could not really sit on their own given their age. They then offered to find us another flight, meaning that we'd miss our connection.

    At this point I became rather more demanding, and upon looking at their screen once more decided they could upgrade us all to Business Class. I smiled nicely and thanked them, and had a very nice flight. Just lucky I guess.
     
  10. AussieDisneyFan

    AussieDisneyFan Junior Member

    Nov 9, 2004
    20
    0
    I don't get airlines sometimes. We had a similar situation in LAX with United. We arrived 3 hours early (even pre 9/11) for our Syd flight and we were told upon checkin that we had 3 different seats. I said sure, I trust that the person sitting next to our 3 year old won't mind looking after her, at least I will be able to sleep.

    The best they could do was 2 and 1. Was not very impressed with the service and the poor gentlemen that I agreed to swap seats with me probably wasn't happy either as I mistakenly thought I had a window and asked if he would swap then from his middle seat in the centre 4. Then he/I discovered that I actually had the middle of the 3 outside. He said it was ok but I don't think he was impressed. I guess he prefered that to sitting next to a child.
     
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