My wife and I had been loyal to #AmericanAirlines even throughout its problems and bankruptcy. We flew American almost exclusively when others abandoned the airline and chose to fly other carriers. Both of us have been Executive Platinum for many years. We’ve paid higher ticket prices and/or took less convenient flights because our loyalty had always been rewarded.
However, this is no longer the case. American doesn’t seem to care about our dedication; so the question becomes: why should we remain loyal to American?
Systemwide upgrades? NOT!
One of the best benefits of being Executive Platinum was getting those coveted systemwide upgrades. They allowed us to book economy tickets and upgrade to business class – a great perk, especially since we made frequent, short trips to far away places for my wife to do photo shoots. Now, although the website shows which flights have upgrades available, turns out it’s mostly for domestic or Caribbean routes or from business-to-first (no longer economy to business crossing the big blue ponds). Of course, we’ve now been informed we could go on the wait list. But, after all these years and all those miles, that is not an option for us. I’m not willing to buy a coach class ticket and HOPE they give us an upgrade.
What’s a frequent flyer to do?
So now that we can’t find flights that interest us to use the systemwide upgrades we already have, we’re just using them up on close-to-home flights and looking at flying other airlines for long-haul destinations. After all, if we are going to pay for business class seats, shouldn’t we just choose airlines that have more convenient schedules and better prices than American?
“Tell American!” We decided
It’s only fair to share our feelings with American. After all, they should have an opportunity to make things right. So, after multiple phone calls to the Executive Desk where no one was able to help, I located the name and snail mail address on last year’s EXP welcome package (this year’s has yet to arrive!) of the person designated as President, Aadvantage Loyalty Program. We wrote a letter, explaining our years of dedication and our recent dilemma. After nearly three weeks, we received the attached terse form letter from someone else. (see AA Response)
Dear Mr. Fitch,
Regarding AAdvantage® #******
We received your letter and are eager to respond as quickly as possible. Accordingly, I've taken the liberty of answering electronically, using the email address included in your AAdvantage membership profile.
Thank you for your long term loyalty to American Airlines. We are sorry you have had difficulty using your systemwide upgrades. Please know that it is not our goal to fly empty premium cabin seats, but neither can we turn away full-fare customers who wish to purchase those seats.
If you find you are unable to secure upgrade space in a premium cabin when you initially book your Economy Class reservation, please check back with the Executive Platinum Service Desk or your travel agent, closer to departure. Our dedicated staff of professionals will do everything possible to satisfy your request.
Still, it is unlikely we will remove capacity controls on systemwide upgrades. This action is necessary to ensure full-fare availability on short notice in our premium cabins. Capacity controls limit, but by no means eliminate, the number of seats available for systemwide upgrades.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond. We look forward to serving you in the future.
AAdvantage Customer Service
P.S. Earning AAdvantage miles for car rentals is easy with Avis. Go to www.avis.com for more information, and remember to provide your AAdvantage number whenever you rent a car.
We were particularly tickled (not!) by the PS at the bottom informing us how we could earn more miles by renting from Avis.
Here’s the Irony
This past weekend we flew to Barcelona on American using 2013 VIPs and tickets we booked before the “New American” policies went into effect. Guess what? Many of the business class seats were empty. Both ways!! So, I guess their revenue stream looks terrific. And, we are working on our travel plans for the next five years where many of our trips will no longer include AA flights.
Note: I know we sound spoiled; it’s just sour grapes True. But, we’ve logged millions of miles with American. In the past three months, we’ve received nothing but cold, “who cares” type responses from most of the people we’ve spoken with EXCEPT cabin and cockpit crew. The ones we see and interact with directly are fantastic; it’s the ones hiding behind telephones and form emails that are losing the loyal customers.