Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Praise for an Airline?

I have yet to find the perfect airline, all of them have flaws and frustrations.  I do most of my business with two, allowing me to concentrate frequent flyer miles, and the more business you do with an airline, the more accommodating they can be. Also because of credit card deals I get free checked bags on Delta and American Airlines.  I buy all non-refundable tickets, I have tossed a few tickets over the years when last minute changes made it cheaper to buy a new ticket, than to pay the change fee.  I plan well, so this seldom happens, but it does.  

So praise for an Airline?  Yes. 

When my sister let me know dad was in really bad shape, I booked a round trip going down on Thursday and back on Monday.  I arrived late Thursday afternoon, and he died early Friday morning. It quickly became apparent that the list of things I needed to do was longer than the time available, so Friday evening I looked up the cost of buying a new return ticket for Wednesday evening.  Before I pressed buy, I called American customer service on the special number for members of their frequent flyer program.  Most airlines give preferred service to frequently flyers, some have dedicated service center staff for frequent flyer members.  

I explained what had happened and asked if there was anyway that changing the ticket would be cheaper than buying a new one.  The customer service agent asked a few question, and then explained, that she would call the funeral home to verify what I had told her, and ask a supervisor for approval to waive the change fee of of $200 (buy a new ticket was on the website at $169.)  She put me on hold for a few minutes and came back with good news, she was able to verify with the funeral director and get approval to waive the change fee.  It looked like the price was the same, so this would be done at no charge and I would receive a confirmation email.  

The next morning I realized that I hadn't received the email, so I checked my pending reservations online and the date had been changed to Wednesday for the return flight.  Good.  Tuesday evening I went to check-in and couldn't. The reservation was still showing as ticket pending, so I called back.  A nice young man answered, I gave him the basic information to pull up the reservation.  I said I can give you the history on this, he said that is okay, I just read the notes, "sorry for your loss, and I apologize it is our mistake the computer flagged this for review and no one looked at it, hang on I will be right back."  A moment later he was back, apparently the computer decided that the new ticket was $20 cheaper than what I had paid, and the computer needed a person to authorize crediting me the $20.  He had done that.  A few minutes later I was able to check in. 

Now this was not automatic, the airline needed to verify that there was a death in the family, but they waived the change fee.  Saving me the price of a new ticket.  Bravo!  Good service.  

Of course on Wednesday the weather didn't cooperate, and the gate was occupied, and the gate agent was on break, overall I was 3-hours late getting in.  No airline can control the weather, when the schedules are messed up, staff are run thin and likely screamed at all day.  

American Airlines did what they could, to accommodate my needs.  Good work AA.com.  

What is your best experience with an airline?    


  1. wow; that IS good customer service.

    I never did like flying, even back when there were more than 3 airlines and you were served food on every flight and the seats were bigger. I'm not missing anything.

  2. My best experience was with United when my father passed. I was already traveling and in Philly when mom found him. Very similar experience with changes. They were kind, understanding, accommodating and all at no charge. I too have a dedicated line for my frequent flyer account which helps me in all my travels and waives all day of travel change fees. Being a member of United club has saved me many times during weather, mechanical, delays and even airports being shutdown by gunman (Ft Lauderdale). The membership fee pays for itself simply by having the staffed customer service desk that is available with no waiting.