Using American Schedule Change to Our DisAAdvantage

Few weeks ago I wrote a post on how I was able to charm my way to a better flight connection due to airline schedule change. There were two choices available at the time: A flight  through Chicago with 1 hour layover, and a flight through Dallas that would require us to hang around the airport for 1 hour 45 minutes. I picked the first one and I picked wrong.

A few days ago I got an email notification that my flight time has changed …again. And now we were scheduled to leave at 9:40 AM. That may not sound bad to  you, but we live 1 hour 35 minutes from the airport (via car, of course). Do the math and you’ll see that this was less than ideal situation. Naturally, I went ahead and called American, hoping to switch to the flight via Dallas, the one I should have booked the first time.

I spent close to 30 minutes before I finally got an agent on the line. And the fun begins. I told her about my predicament and could see right away that she wasn’t the brightest bulb. I’m not trying to be mean, just honest. She kept looking  for my reservation and said she didn’t see any flight changes. I told her I got an email 1 hour ago and was looking at it, and she kept insisting we were fine.

HUCA HUCA HUCA HUCA  

The acronym kept flashing in my head repeatedly. For those new to the miles and points hobby, it means “hang up call again” Don’t ever underestimate the power of HUCA. So, I thought about hanging up but luckily for me, the agent volunteered to transfer me to another department.

The new gal seemed more “with it,” but was coughing like crazy. I felt really bad for her and told her to just take her time. It was pretty sad to me that here she was, sick as a dog, still working at 8 PM.  I went ahead and explained my situation and asked her to rebook me on that flight via Dallas.

Deja Vu

And then we had a serious case of deja vu. She said that technically, they are not required to accommodate me. I politely told her we have small kids, and it will be a nightmare leaving this early in the morning. She said she would talk to her supervisor and after about 30 minute hold, we were rebooked on the flight I wanted. I’ve mentioned that I wanted to give her positive feedback, which made her very happy.

Unfortunately, she couldn’t get connected to the right department and asked me if I would be willing to leave feedback online. I said absolutely. Her response: “Really?” I could tell she was in shock. Then I had  the challenge of getting her correct name. It was very unusual, so I kept asking her to spell it to me one more time. Suddenly, I felt like I was not the brightest bulb in the store. Anyway, I got the name, left the feedback, and hope the gal gets promoted. That way, she can stay home when she is sick.

Honestly, I was very close to hanging up throughout this entire ordeal. But I’m so glad I didn’t. Yes, I did spend an hour and there  was some aggravation involved. But now, we are leaving at 11:30 AM, which is a lot better. Well, unless there is another schedule change (rolls eyes).

Bottom line

I am absolutely convinced that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I do it all the time in my backyard. And it works with airline agents too. You can usually get what you want as long as you are polite and reasonable. If not, there is always HUCA.

P.S. See comments section for tips on booking AA awards  from reader Erik.

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4 thoughts on “Using American Schedule Change to Our DisAAdvantage

  1. It’s all phone roulette….but I have to say that my last two calls to AA to book award tickets were outstanding. I took AAdvantage of the recent wide-open business class availability to book a family trip to Asia. I was able to reserve AA flights to/from Hong Kong but my last desired segments were on Cathay Pacific, which can’t be booked online. To complicate things, I was doing an open jaw and booking three one-ways. I had everybody in a single reservation on the outbound trip, but I didn’t have enough miles in my account to cover the return, so we had split that flight to me+kid1 and wife+kid2 (this also had an added benefit that we each received the 10K AA award mile rebate from the AAviator cards). So I called AA, told the lady that I was trying to book an award flight that included Cathay Pacific. The agent was awesome – she handled my request with ease, even had some nice casual banter during the process. It was literally click click click, select seats, collect credit card info, and boom, we were done within 15 minutes. I was shocked at the efficiency. In the past, most of my phone award booking experience was with Delta and Lufthansa where I had most of my butt-in-seat miles. I had to call Delta often because their award booking engine was broke/missing partners and Lufthansa because you can’t book flights online from my home city (because it is served by UA and not LH). Delta was the worst, even the Diamond Medallion desk which supposedly had the better agents. I could always count on a minimum of 30 minutes and the call would often stretch to an hour or more. And it was always an ordeal – feed the agents the flights, they’d place me on hold, then they’d come back and couldn’t find something, I would repeat how I found it, they put me on hold again, we’d get the itinerary pieced together, then they had to call the ticketing desk, yadayadayada. With Delta, I think it was a combination of poorly trained agents and an ancient system, because even the really good agents seemed to be constantly waiting on the computer. AA was a complete breath of fresh air. I had the same experience when I called back a few days later. One of the Cathay segments I booked departed 4 hours later after the AA flight arrived in HKG. I wanted a flight that left 2 hours earlier but it wasn’t available. Seats opened up a few days later so I called AA to switch that segment to the earlier flight. Again, I reached a nice professional agent who quickly found the seats on Cathay and submitted for reticketing.

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    • @Erik I’m so happy you took advAAntage (see what I did there?) of the recent open business class availability. I’ve seen few blogs report on it, and glad you used AA miles of this award. Better now than after the devAAluation (oops, I did it again). I’m so jealous, it’s my dream to visit Asia one of these days. I tried to talk my husband into leaving the kids behind, but no luck.
      I don’t have a lot of experience with Delta, but not surprised that most agents are incompetent. Their whole award program is highly dysfunctional. My experience with AA has been very mixed so far. Some agents are great, some are clueless. Ditto for wait times. I have been connected before in a matter of minutes, but often have to wait half an hour for someone to help me. Maybe it has something to do with the time of the phone call. I just hope I don’t have to repeat this process again for this particular flight. Fingers crossed!

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    • Erik, that makes a lot of sense! Definitely not a good idea to call during major weather event or on Mondays. I’ve updated the post, so hopefully a few readers will take advantage of your tips. Thanks!

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