Unable to board standby with standby ticket and empty seats.

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Dec 15, 2015
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Hi,

I redeemed 40,000 AAnytime miles with American for a trip from Wichita, Kansas to Tampa, Florida on Dec 5, 2015. To be clear, these were the AAnytime miles that have the the Same-Day flight change and standby option. This is shown on AA.com:

https://www.aa.com/i18n/utility/sameDayTravel.jsp

(scroll down to "complimentary standby")

My flight from Tampa to Dallas arrived early and I ran over to the gate to catch the 1:30pm flight to Wichita. I was at the gate at 1:05pm. Flight Groups 1 and 2 were just about to board. This was flight #5837. My ticketed flight was #5807 at 3:55pm.

I asked one of the two gate agents if there were seats. She said yes. I gave her my ticket for the later flight. She asked if I was gold or higher status and I said no. She then said I couldn't board the plane. I said that this was an AAnytime flight award and I should be able to get on if there were tickets. She said no.

I called American at their 800 number and the agent there told me yes, I should be able to board. She was unable to get me on the flight from her end and told me to contact the gate agent again.

I talked to the other agent who asked if my status was gold or higher, I said no, and she said there was nothing she could do.

I went to speak to someone in ticketing (the flight had since closed) and was told that I would have had to pay a $75 fee to get on the earlier flight.

I waited around a few hours for my scheduled flight when I could have been home much earlier. I redeemed 40,000 miles for an AAnytime reward so that I COULD catch an earlier flight rather than 25,000 miles for a saver award which doesn't have this option.

I emailed AA customer service when I got home explaining what happened. They emailed me today to call them which I did. The rep on the phone said she would talk to her manager. They finally decided that since I took the flight there was nothing they could do.

When I told her I was looking at AA.com and it said that my AAnytime award was valid for standby she put me on hold again and then said she was transferring me to a Reservations Supervisor. I was just dumped on this guy. He had no idea what was going on. Since the flight had already happened my record locator was no longer valid and he could do nothing. He told me to transfer back to AAdvantage Customer Relations and ask for a supervisor which I did.

She apologized for my inconvenience and offered me 5000 miles, which I declined since that would consider the matter resolved and doesn't seem fair. Now I am writing you for help.

The crux of this is I didn't redeem 25,000 miles for a standard flight. I redeemed 40,000 miles to have the standby option. The supervisor acknowledged on the phone that I should have been able to board the plane if there were seats. I don't understand why they cannot credit me back the 15,000 mile difference between the Saver Award and the AAnytime award since that is what I paid extra for and wasn't able to use.

American keeps saying because I flew they don't have to credit me with any amount of miles back to my account. That makes no sense. Was I going to rent a car and drive home so that I could fight this little battle to get my miles back when they simply should have let me on the plane since I had the standby option with my award ticket? Of course I flew home and assumed American would handle this reasonably.

I feel like if I would have said I was Gold status (they were asking me if I was so I assume they couldn't tell from their computer) I could have boarded. I've been gold in the recent past but since I was overseas for a year I was unable to fly frequently to maintain that level.

The supervisor then told me if I did want to pursue this complaint to email customer service. I DID do that. And now I was talking to her, the supervisor. Why did I want to email customer service again when I just did that and she was a supervisor? So it appears there is no end to this circle.

Attached is a screen shot from the American link above showing that AAnytime awards have complimentary standby. I am requesting 15,000 miles back to my account, the difference between the Saver award and the AAnytime award. Thanks for any assistance you can provide with this.
 

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Jan 5, 2015
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@beddavid,

Gosh, what an annoying mess, first to not be able to take the earlier flight, and then to not have them promptly refund the miles. My suggestion is to shorten up your complaint considerably and send it to our Company Contacts. There is a link at the top of the page for them. Go to the first executive and send a short, polite, email to them explaining the situation and asking for the 15,000 miles to be credited back to your account. Do not email all the executives at once and do not start with the CEO. Give the first executive a week to respond, then move to the next one if you get no response or a no.

I really think if you clean up and shorten your letter you'll have a better chance. Right now it's not clear what you want or why there is a legit problem until 3/4 of the way through it. Most customer service reps simply aren't going to read that far or into that level of detail.

If you'd like, you can take a stab at editing it and repost it for us to proofread for you.

Best of luck to you and if you have any further questions or updates, please post again.
 
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Jan 3, 2015
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Most likely, the issue is you spoke to people at the airport who are former US Airways agents and don't fully understand the rules. I personally believe you are entitled at the very least to a 15,000 mile refund.

I'd take @technomage1's advice above and use our Company Contacts to escalate this. Start at the bottom level and work your way up, giving each person at least a week to respond. In your e-mail, be concise and stick strictly to the facts (leave all emotion and sarcasm out of it) and state exactly what you want done. It is also important to be polite as you want to make the person reading this on the other side your friend, not your adversary.
 
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Dec 15, 2015
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Thank you both for you input. I have written a concise email with just the facts and will be sending that to the primary contact listed here on the site.
Thank you!
 
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Dec 15, 2015
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Hi Guys,
A follow up on this case: I did as you suggested and significantly shortened my letter to a concise retelling of the facts and how I would like to resolve this. I sent it to the first primary contact listed here on the site, Sean Bentel. Today I received a response from American asking me to call and contact AAdvantage Account service. I did that and they had nothing to report. Simply that I had taken the flight home and no miles could be reinstated. The rep then suggested I contact customer service.
So, apparently Mr. Bentel didn't read the email and just forwarded it on. Do I continue on down the contact list emailing people at American? I don't want to be a nuisance for a relatively minor situation but I'm pretty frustrated and irked by the entire thing and how it is being handled. I had a ticket for standby and wasn't able to use it. Am I out of line asking for the 15,000 miles to be reinstated?
Please let me know how to proceed. I'd be happy to forward the email I sent to Mr. Bentel if you'd like to proof it.
Thanks for your help.
 
Jan 5, 2015
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You are absolutely in line. You're owed the miles.

The only thing I'd suggest for your next letter is - and I apologize for not putting it in there earlier - a sentence explaining you've already tried their regular customer service to no avail.

If you'd like us to proofread your letter, we'd be happy to,
 
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I think I would respond to that letter stating that you did call in, and the customer service representative was not empowered to be able to help you. Let them know you are escalating this because the phone representative does not have the ability to help and you need Mr. Bentel or someone with the ability to help to step in to provide the service that you need. Be sure to again be polite and concise.
 
Dec 15, 2015
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Hi,
A follow up to this case--I wrote back to customer service and cc'd Mr. Bentel explaining the relevant facts of my request. I received a response this morning acknowledging my frustration for "giving me incorrect information" and as a gesture of goodwill, American will deposit 5000 miles back into my account.
It still seems like I am back at square one. What is the incorrect information they gave me? Is an AAnytime award ticket unable to fly standby? It should and I was never given an answer about why I could not. All I've been told on the phone is that since I flew home on my scheduled flight American cannot do anything more.
Furthermore, the letter said American has "a responsibility to decline compensation requests when they feel they aren't appropriate." What skews my request as inappropriate? I redeemed 15,000 extra miles to fly standby, was not allowed to fly standby, and would like those miles back in my account.
Do I have any further recourse at this point? I realize this is not a major issue compared to what others experience but I'm upset that no one at American has definitively told me why I couldn't board the plane nor why they won't honor my compensation request other than deem it inappropriate.
 
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I think since they seem to be ignoring the facts here, that this may be a case for Chris to take on personally. I know he typically isn't a fan of mileage related issues, but it seems American screwed up and doesn't want to own up to it, so I would recommend he takes this one on.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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I believe our LW needs to get then to explain what exactly the issue is and possible he has correspondence we have not seen...

Some piece to the puzzle is missing and I am looking to our LW to supply it.
 
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travellerdan

Guest
Here is how I think AA sees this:

1. You bought an AAnytime fare and flew the flight. Result is flight paid for, flight flown, end of story, case closed.

2. One of the benefits of that fare is being able to standby on an earlier same-day flight. You were denied this benefit. AA has admitted they made a mistake and compensated you 5000 miles.

Your theory is that because your intent in buying AAnytime was exclusively due to the stand-by benefit that in effect you bought that benefit for 15,000 miles. AA does not agree that they sold you any such thing for that price. Your motivations are irrelevant to what they think is fair compensation. They don't actually agree that they sold you anything in particular for that price other than the general package of whatever AAnytime implies over saver fares. They are giving you the 5000 miles for your trouble.

I think it is going to be very difficult to get their response changed, but keep writing and someone may eventually agree with you.
 
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Realitoes

Guest
Couple things I noticed is you said you tried to do this standby at the gate. The AA website list 3 ways to confirm your standby and none of them are at the Gate.
How to confirm same-day flight changes or standby
We offer several convenient options to make same-day flight changes or request standby beginning 24 hours prior to departure:

  1. Online:
    Request same-day flight change or same-day standby on aa.com. Select each passenger requesting the change and pay the fee.
  2. At a self-service kiosk:
    Choose from a list of available flights and pay the fee. Once you complete the check-in process, you’ll receive a boarding pass for your new flight and a receipt for the charge.
  3. At the ticket counter:
    Our agents will provide a list of available flights for same-day flight change only. Choose the flight you want and pay the fee. You’ll receive a boarding pass for your new flight and a receipt for the charge.
Also, the T&C does state that "Same-day standby is offered on select routes and is subject to availability." Possibly why a list is provided in #3 above.

In any case, they should have at least explained this to you at the gate.
 
Aug 28, 2015
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I agree with @Realitoes . While AA doesn't seem to even have realized that itself yet, at some point it probably will. The rule suggests gate agents are not empowered to offer this service, so perhaps had you doubled back to the ticket counter, since you were super early, the agent would have been able to book you easily. If you did not try any of the listed methods, then we have no idea if you were denied the option you purchased.
 
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While it might be true that the gate agent screwed up, how do we know if a Standard Award Seat was available for that flight? If only AAnytime award seats were available, then you can't claim the difference regardless what happened.
 
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travellerdan

Guest
While it might be true that the gate agent screwed up, how do we know if a Standard Award Seat was available for that flight? If only AAnytime award seats were available, then you can't claim the difference regardless what happened.
AA does not have a standard award seat. There are Saver awards that are less available and cheaper and AAnytime awards that are available "anytime" (ie no blackout dates) and more expensive. My understanding is that an AAnytime coach award is equivalent to a full fare Y ticket. That includes a lot of benefits from no change fees to a larger baggage allowance. I am not sure what happens with the possibility no award seats are available.

In any case, the OP states that apparently the sticking point stated by the GA's was that he was not elite, so the GA's apparently would have let him board if he had passed that false hurdle. The possibility you can't initiate standby at the gate exists, but no one at American is saying that yet. We remain in the dark as to what American thinks is the false information he was given.

I sure seems they made a mistake but also that the award is not explicitly a purchase of ability to standby priced at 15,000 miles.
 
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Oct 5, 2015
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AA does not have a standard award seat. There are Saver awards that are less available and cheaper and AAnytime awards that are available "anytime" (ie no blackout dates) and more expensive. My understanding is that an AAnytime coach award is equivalent to a full fare Y ticket. That includes a lot of benefits from no change fees to a larger baggage allowance. I am not sure what happens with the possibility no award seats are available.

In any case, the OP states that apparently the sticking point stated by the GA's was that he was not elite, so the GA's apparently would have let him board if he had passed that false hurdle. The possibility you can't initiate standby at the gate exists, but no one at American is saying that yet. We remain in the dark as to what American thinks is the false information he was given.

I sure seems they made a mistake but also that the award is not explicitly a purchase of ability to standby priced at 15,000 miles.
Oops you are right AASaver ;)
But I hope y'all get my point. He needs to prove that there WAS AASaver available for that flight when he redeemed AAnytime. Or else he his making an invalid comparison.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
The airline needs to tell him why he is being declined. Their response is useless and they need to tell exactly why he didn't get the flight. If it's because they had no seats, gate agents can't do it, whatever- they owe our writer an explanation, not just throw points.

We can speculate all we want but I recommend him going back to ask why he wasn't given a seat. Was it his status, were there no seats, did it need to be done a different way? That can help him in the future.
 
Dec 15, 2015
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Hi Everyone,
Thank you for all of your thoughts on my case. I appreciate it. A lot of things bother me about this situation, particularly just how it was handled, by the gate agents and then with customer service on the phone. When I arrived at the gate and Groups 1 and 2 were just about to board it appeared I was on time, all was fine. I asked if there were seats, was told yes, and then presented my boarding pass for my later flight.
When I was asked about gold status or higher I knew something was wrong. First, GA couldn't tell what my metal status was and second, GA couldn't tell that this was an award ticket. I thought that was available to agents. In any event, when the second agent asked if I was gold or higher it suddenly seemed like assigning me a seat was a change they COULD make on the fly but for some reason not with my AAnytime ticket. Maybe they couldn't verify that.
For all the frustration and time I have spent with this the smart move would have been for one of the agents to say, "we DO have multiple seats available, this is an award ticket, why not get him home now and if the next flight is full we have his seat now available for another customer." Done deal. If I was gold apparently that would have been simple.
For clarification, once I was denied by the first agent I called AA on the phone. The rep there clearly said, "yes, you can board the plane. There are seats and I see your award ticket" and she tried for ten minutes to get me on but finally said she couldn't do it and to try with the agents again. I tried that, turned down.
There is no customer service desk anywhere in the airport from what I could tell (strange, being Dallas and the hub) so I left airside and found a ticketing agent. He talked about the computer being inaccessible when it is close to the gate closing. That may be true but I was there 25 minutes early. GA asked if I was gold, implying I could board. I don't buy the computer excuse.
Also, some earlier discussion in this thread about 15,000 miles being the cost for stand by compared to the Saver award. Good point, I see that, but purchasing the AAnytime award I had is 15,000 more miles above Saver and a $75 fee plus tax since I bought it inside the 21 day advance window. What exactly AM I getting for the extra miles and $75 fee? I don't believe it is better routing or times on this particular itinerary.
In summary, I'd like to know why I couldn't have a seat. Seats were there, phone rep confirmed I should have been able to board.
Thanks again everyone for your knowledge and thoughts. I'm grateful.