American Airlines Customer service is subpar at best. Since the merger with US Airways the airline has become less customer focused and mostly driven by profits. The morale of the company has faltered and we’ve seen incidents of strikes, pilot call-offs, purposeful mechanical delays, and poor customer service over and over again. To no surprise, I too had my own incident with American Airlines and the airline has not changed. This incident again happened at LAX where I’ve had terrible IRROP customer service previously and was given a hotel room to only have it not be available upon arrival.
American Airlines Canceled My Flight
Like most stories, this one begins after American Airlines canceled my flight l. This time between Seattle and Dallas. The flight had a mechanical issue after boarding and pushback. After sitting at the gate for an hour, American Airlines canceled the flight. The cancellation was going to cause me to misconnect in Dallas and now the option of getting to Santiago was looking grim.
Knowing that American Airlines customer service hold times are long, I opted to direct message the twitter team. I was on a paid business class ticket and wanted to be rerouted on an alternate flight. I had plans and a wine tour to make in Santiago, and arriving a day late to vacation was not an option.
The twitter team was amazing and they rebooked us on Alaska Airlines to Los Angeles and then LATAM to Santiago. I find the twitter team to be better at protecting passengers usually. The new flight was Seattle to Los Angeles in economy class and LATAM segments in business. We would arrive in Santiago 8 hours late, but we were still getting there in time for our dinner reservations. Plus we’d make our tour the next day. Great!
Denied Boarding In Los Angeles
We made it to Los Angeles and ran across the airport from Terminal 6 to Tom Bradly. About 75 minutes before departure, we approached the gate and this is when it all went wrong. LATAM was able to locate a seat for only one of us. (My friend who was also rebooked by the AA twitter team). Per LATAM, AA did not actually confirm reserved space. Now, the flight is overbooked.
What?!? I have a confirmation record locator from American Airlines. The first segment on Alaska Airlines was fine. I was now in Los Angeles and stranded. Quickly, I reached back out to the AA twitter team and called AA. Hold times were bad, and the Twitter team was able to confirm our new ticket number. Reservations then came on the phone and it continued downhill.
The first agent accused me of illegally changing my ticket. Yet, let’s be clear, it was AA who changed my ticket. Then American Airlines and LATAM went back and forth blaming each other. Meanwhile, time was ticking. After 60 minutes, LATAM closed the flight and my partner and I were denied boarding. American Airlines stranded us in Los Angeles.
Rebooking and Luggage Mess
LATAM did not accept our reservation, now our bags were missing. It took another 2 hours for an airline representative to locate our bags. In the meantime I worked with the American Airlines agent to be rebooked for the following day to Santiago. Unfortunately, we’d be back on an American Airline flight and now miss our first full day at our final destination in Chile. And yes, to be petty, we also were going to miss a wine tour the next day.
As a gesture of good will, or so they claim. American Airlines did get us a hotel in Los Angeles and provided us with two $12 meal vouchers. What can you eat at LAX for $12? Nothing. I still had to pay out of pocket to eat dinner, despite American Airlines canceling our flight and leaving us stranded.
The next day went smoothly and we made it to Santiago. A day late.
Delayed Flight Compensation
After this ordeal I wrote to American Airlines requesting compensation for the delay, the stress, the denied boarding, and downgrade. The response I received was comically bad. A typical cut and paste blanket response.
February 3, 2023
Hello Mr. Horan: Thank you for contacting us.
I’m truly sorry to hear about your experience. We’re paying careful attention to the feedback our customers are providing us and the details you shared with us have been made available to our leadership to be used to improve our service.
Your business means a great deal to us, and I’d like to ask for another chance to rebuild your confidence. If you’re an AAdvantage® member, we’ve deposited miles into your account which will be viewable within 24 hours. If you’re not an AAdvantage® member, check your email. You should receive a separate email from us shortly with a trip credit to use for a future flight. From all of us at American Airlines, we’re glad you chose to fly with us and look forward to caring for you on your next journey.
I requested a partial ticket refund and compensation. American Airlines decided that 15,000 miles to their loyalty program would be enough compensation. My partner received nothing. Miles cost the airlines nothing. This is flat out unacceptable.
Filing a Complaint with the DOT
As American Airlines and Latam denied me boarding in Los Angeles I have opted to take it a step further. I have filed a complaint with the DOT requesting denied boarding compensation. As I have my travel documents from American Airlines with a ticket number and itinerary, which reads ticketed, I deserve full compensation for denial of boarding.
Under DOT law, an airline must provide cash reimbursement for denial of boarding. As a passenger with a ticket, I am entitled to compensation under these regulations. This is suppose to happen the same day. In American Airlines and LATAM’s case, neither offered compensation.
Following a bumping incident, airlines must offer passengers compensation at the airport on the same day.
If the airline provides substitute transportation that leaves the airport before the airline can pay the passenger, the airline must pay the passenger within 24 hours of the bumping incident.
As this is an international flight, under DOT regulations we are to receive 400% of our one-way fare or a max of $1,550 for involuntary denied boarding. At this point I honestly am unsure if I should request this from LATAM or AA, I will let the DOT determine who owes me compensation for the denial of boarding. Who is at fault here? LATAM who says I don’t have a ticket, or AA who didn’t process the ticket?
American Airlines customer service during IRROPs is terrible. I am still in shock that I was rerouted via Los Angeles and then left stranded overnight at LAX. A 24 hour delay, boarding denial, hours at the airport, and a downgrade is worth more than 15,000 miles. I will continue this fight via the DOT as I do not accept American Airlines customer service and customer recovery compensation. American Airlines customer service failed me and I truly hope that no one else has a similar experience. Know your rights and be sure to hold the airlines accountable. Also remember, in the EU there’s compensation for delays.