Archive for December, 2010
I had completed my trip to Seattle and looked forward to the 8,600 miles posting to my account.
A few days later the miles posted but there was a problem: they missed one of my flights.
I got credit for the flights from Austin to DFW, DFW to Seattle, and DFW to Austin. Somehow they missed my flight on the Saturday night red-eye from Seattle to DFW. Sometimes this happens, so I waited a few more days but the miles never posted.
Eight days after the flight I still did not have the miles so I called AAdvantage customer service and explained the situation. I thought AA could check their system and see that I had actually taken that flight but apparently not. The customer service representative asked for the ticket number on my boarding pass. Thankfully, I still had it and I learned an important lesson; hold on to your boarding passes until your mileage posts.
I gave her that information, she confirmed that I had taken the flight, apologized for the problem and said the miles would post in the next 2 days. She was very polite, I thanked her and was glad that the situation had been corrected.
There was only one problem: four days later I still did not have credit for the miles!
Willing to give the benefit of the doubt I waited another few days; in fact I gave it a full week but still no miles. I called AAdvantage customer service and explained the situation to the representative and gave him the number from my boarding pass. He apologized, said he’d take care of it and assured me the miles would appear on my account in 48 hours.
Did I wait 48 hours to see if those miles had posted? No, I waited 72. Three days after the call I checked and sure enough, still no miles for that flight! Did I get angry at this? No, I decided to give them another few days, maybe they would post on the next cycle.
I again waited a full week but the miles did not post.
This time I wrote to customer service, explained that I did not get the miles after the flight or after being promised them twice. I even scanned my boarding pass for them. I hoped that would be enough.
Thankfully it was. Later that day I received this e-mail.
Dear Mr. Happyflier,
First, allow me to thank you for being one of our valued AAdvantage Platinum® members. At AAdvantage® Customer Service, we are always glad to hear from you.
Unfortunately, I believe there is a system glitch. Therefore, I have posted the flight as November 7 as a cancelled flight. This will still give you credit.
Whether you are traveling this holiday season or staying at home, we wish you all the best as the new year approaches.
AAdvantage Customer Service
P.S. Do you know how easy it is to earn AAdvantage miles when you catch up on the news of the day? You can earn 1,000 miles for a 4-week EZ pay subscription to USA TODAY. Please visit www.myusatoday.com/aadvantage for full details. While you’re online, visit www.aa.com/subscribe to learn about other ways to earn AAdvantage miles, receive exclusive bonus offers from name-brand companies and hear about discounted fares. Make the most of your membership!
I worked many many years in customer service, and with that background I can say that this is a good letter but some things are missing.
The good part is they are glad to hear from me, they appreciate my Platinum status and they have given me my miles.
Here is what is missing:
- We’re sorry you have had so much trouble getting your miles.
- I’ve contacted our technical staff and asked them to find the cause of this problem and fix it so that other travelers do not experience the same problems you had. This should have happened after you notified us twice that you had not received your miles, so I am also forwarding your message to a supervisor to see that we do better the next time.
- I’ve placed X,XXX miles in your account to thank you for letting us know that we did not handle your situation correctly, and to thank you for being a customer of American Airlines.
Item #1 is so obvious I was surprised that it was not there. Any time a business makes a mistake on a customer’s account, they should apologize. When I missed a connection in Boston last year because my flight was late and they would not hold my San Francisco flight for 4-5 minutes for me to make the connection, I complained to them. In their letter back to me they said “We certainly don’t want to leave customers behind and I’m sorry things worked out like they did on this occasion.” They also explained that planes must leave on time and they cannot delay them for a passenger to connect. When I had a flight a few months later delayed for 20 minutes so that some passengers could connect I wrote again; they wrote back with an apology and a clarification of their policy.
In this case, where the issue was totally American’s fault, they are apparently not sorry I had this problem.
Item #2 is basic customer service; we’re going to fix this technical problem and we’re going to find out why the first two people you dealt with did not handle it appropriately. Apparently that isn’t going to happen.
Item #3; every other time that I have had a problem with AA, they have put some miles into my account as a customer service gesture. They could have done that this time. The number of miles does not matter, it could have been 500 miles, 750 miles, 1,000 miles or whatever they deemed appropriate; I don’t care how many it is. The point is that it is good customer service to do that. I didn’t expect a refund on my ticket, I did not expect a cash voucher for future travel, but I did think that something would be put in my account. I was wrong.
And finally, they spent almost as many words trying to sell me on a subscription to USA Today as they did taking care of my problem. That’s one of the worst things customer service can do: when someone has a problem, fix it and don’t try to sell them something else. All that does is make them think that the most important thing is to get their money. I have no doubt that AA does want my money, they are in business to make money and I am happy to spend it with them, but a customer service letter is not the right place to try to close a sale.
My red-eye from SEA departed at 11:59 p.m. That means we pushed back from the gate on Saturday, but actually took off on Sunday. Could that be the problem? I don’t know. I do know that I had the same problem a few years ago with getting miles for the Saturday red-eye from SEA. I posted a description of the problem on FlyerTalk.com. The next day I got a phone call from AA customer service in which they apologized and actually asked me how many miles they would have to give me to make it good. He and I had a good laugh when I asked for 750,000 miles (a request he refused), but I did get some miles. That was great customer service!
This time was not. It all worked out because I did eventually get my miles but American could have done a much better job of handling this situation.
While I was waiting to board my flight from Seattle to DFW at Sea-Tac International Airport, I noticed one gate that looked very different from the others.
What was this?
I found the answer when I saw this sign.
The sign says:
Why Is This Castle Here?
This castle was created in 2008 by Seattle based American Airlines employees in association with a project called Snowball Express which was started in 2006 with a simple idea: Provide hope and new memories for the children of our fallen military heroes who died while on active duty since September 11, 2001.
By attending Snowball Express a child realizes they can honor their fallen hero in ways other than by being sad or at a somber place. It gives them a piece of their childhood back — allowing them to have fun, knowing its OK to laugh and to meet other families with similar circumstances.
This project does just that with the help of volunteers, donors and sponsors such as American Airlines, (the official airline of the Snowball Express).
In 2008 Seattle was selected as one of the cities from which the Snowball Express would operate. The flight stopped at several other cities, picking up other families along the way.
Upon arrival at Orange County, California, the children and their families were treated to a 3 day visit to Disneyland — hence the castle there for a “royal” sendoff!
This is not something American Airlines does to create new business or improve their bottom line; in fact they probably lose money on the flight. But how can you assign a cash value to bringing a smile to the face of the child of a fallen military hero? You can’t, that smile is priceless.
Thank you American Airlines for supporting the Snowball Express. Visit the Snowball Express website to learn more about what they do, and to make a donation.
It was time for me to take my final mileage run of the year, another trip to Seattle. Why so many trips to SEA? Simple, SEA is the longest non-stop flight that American Airlines offers from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. If I want to go any farther than SEA I need to go beyond the lower 48 states.
I got to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport before 5 a.m, and quickly cleared security. I went to the Admirals Club and prepared for my 6 a.m. flight to DFW. But then, to my embarrassment discovered one problem; my flight was not until 7:05! I’ve always flown out at 6 a.m. and just took it for granted that I’d do it again this day and failed to look closely at my itinerary. I was surprised when the AAngel behind the counter told me “We haven’t had a Saturday 6 a.m. to DFW for more than two months.” Oops! So I had an extra hour to sit in the club.
I eventually got my flight to DFW, and was then pleased to find out that I had received an upgrade to First Class for my flight to Seattle. This meant a more comfortable seat and a meal; at least I would not be hungry once I arrived at SEA.
We departed DFW on time and soon after that it was time for breakfast. I ordered the cheese omelet, which came with potatoes, a roll, and fruit.
After the meal I slept for a an hour or so, then prepared for our arrival in Seattle. I’ve made several trips to Seattle and had great weather on some, poor weather on others. This was going to be a poor weather trip.
We landed at Sea-Tac International Airport in rain, wind, and overcast skies.
I left the terminal and took light rail to Pioneer Square, home of the Underground Seattle tour.
I took the train downtown and walked a few blocks to Pioneer Square, home of the Underground Seattle tour. I had a great time on this tour and highly recommend it. Basically, it tells the story of the founding of Seattle, the construction of buildings downtown that were flooded on a regular basis when the tide came in, and the eventual construction of retaining walls to keep the mud out, but the walls left the first floor of most buildings below ground level. You’ll get a more detailed explanation by visiting their website.
One of the more unique items we saw was one of the first toilets in Seattle.
The tour took 90 minutes and was a lot of fun. Seattle has a colorful history and the tour guides (many of whom seem to have some experience doing stand-up comedy) brought that history to life with their humor and enthusiasm. Be sure to visit Underground Seattle on your next trip to the Emerald City.
Once the tour was over I set out towards my next destination, the Flagship Store of REI. I had seen a story about this unique store on a travel show and decided it was worth visiting. I pulled out my trusty Seattle street map to get directions and quickly realized this is 2010 and it made more sense to use the GPS on my cell phone.
It took almost 30 minutes for me to walk there, not the most fun I have ever had considering the rain and the cold, but what the heck, I always try to do something unusual during a mileage run, so this was part of that.
If you are a person who loves the outdoors, a visit to this store will be like a trip to heaven. Although the store is located in town it does not feel that way; REI did a beautiful job of landscaping the property by planting trees, putting in a creek and waterfall,
The store is amazing! It’s much larger than any other REI store and obviously has a wider selection of products. They’ve installed a mountain-bike trail outside the store where you can test our your new bike, there’s a 65-foot (19.8 meter) climbing wall, and many ways for an outdoors person to get ready for their next adventure.
My next stop was Pike Place Market; I’ve stopped there on every Seattle trip I have done! After a 20-minute walk I arrived; I was cold, wet, and hungry and looked forward to sitting down, warming up, and eating. I walked past the Pike Place Fish Company: they may have fresh fish, they may have friendly staff, but they are most famous for tossing fish.
I found a French restaurant and ate crepes for dinner, then visited a brew pub and sampled some of Seattle’s freshest beers. By then I was relaxed, warm, and ready to call it a day.
I walked back to the light rail station and took the train to Sea-Tac. My flight to DFW was on one of American Airlines’ new 737s. These are really nice planes and still have that “new-plane-smell” and feel. The flight was like every other flight I have been on lately, filled to capacity.
I slept most of the way to DFW. After landing I ate breakfast at McDonalds, the only food place open at DFW at 5 a.m. When the Admirals Club opened I stopped there, took a quick shower, and relaxed, with a coffee and muffin.
My flight back to Austin was uneventful, other than the fact that we arrived 15 minutes early and the gate was not yet ready for us. After a short wait we were able to put up to the terminal and deplane. I was home by 9 a.m.
It had been another long weekend, but a fun one. I earned over 8,600 AAdvantage miles and got home safely on time. That’s all I can ask for!
With all of the complaints and horror stories about airport security, it’s good to see that there is still some humor to be found. Enjoy this video from Japan — I can’t speak a word of Japanese and still laughed at it! (Note: might not be appropriate for kids.)
After eight days in the Bahamas it was time for us to return home.
We took a taxi to the airport, checked in and cleared Bahamian security. Then we noticed one improvement over the previous year. Last year, after clearing Bahamian security, we had to go through American security, another metal detector and such, then clear US Customs. This year, after clearing Bahamian security we went directly to US customs, avoiding the additional security check. This made things much easier for us.
We flew American Eagle to Miami, and, having already cleared Customs in Nassau, were able to go directly to our next flight. A week earlier we had a very very long walk through the terminal from the American Airlines area to the American Eagle area. We were pleased to see that a new rail line had opened in those eight days and we were able to take the train to the AA area. We appreciated that!
We had a smooth flight from Miami to DFW, and than another easy flight from DFW to Austin. We were home by 8:30 that evening.
It had been a great trip, we enjoyed every moment of it (other than the horrible meal at Twin Brothers). The weather was wonderful, the people friendly, and we came home totally relaxed
It was, in every way shape and form, a wonderful vacation!
Our time in Nassau was coming to an end. We decided to visit the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island—I had heard that they have an incredible aquarium and wanted to see it. Thankfully it lived up to its reputation.
Getting there was easy. We took the bus downtown, then the ferry across the harbor to Paradise Island. The ferry is small, holding 20-30 people at the most; the cost is $3 per person. On our way across the harbor a guide pointed out what he felt were some of the great sights along the way including a home owned by Nicolas Cage and a hospital where Anna Nicole Smith was once a patient. Let’s just say we were not impressed. At the end of the ride he added that he was not employed by the ferry company and would appreciate any tips we were willing to pay. I gave him a few bucks.
We had some great views of Atlantis as we arrived at Paradise Island. Our “guide” explained that the bridge connecting the two towers is a 10-room suite costing $25,000 per night. A bit rich for our tastes.
We had a 10-minute walk from the ferry pier to Atlantis. Atlantis is HUGE, with several buildings, many restaurants, water parks, beaches, and a casino, among other attractions. You can buy a full-day pass that allows access to all the attractions, or you can purchase a pass for only those you choose. We bought the Aquarium pass, $39 per person.
Atlantis has a great video on their website of the “marine habitat” that will give you a feel for the place. The video shows some people snorkeling among the fish: we never saw that during our visit.
We walked through their casino which was not very crowded at that time of the day. I did notice that this was definitely a high-roller casino, much more so than the one next door to our hotel.
We went down one floor to get to the aquarium: this gave us a chance to see the fish up close.
The aquarium has several areas (The Dig, Ruins Lagoon, Predator Lagoon, Mayan Temple Lagoon etc.) with different fish in each. You walk from one tank to another; one tank had sharks, another jellyfish, another seahorses, and so on. We found it quite enjoyable. Also, since we were underground we were comfortably out of the sun.
Although we did a lot of walking we truly enjoyed our visit to the Atlantis Aquarium. One of the fun things was to see how excited the children (and sometimes the adults! :-))were to see the fish up close! We had a great time; our visit to Atlantis was one of the highlights of our Nassau vacation! Atlantis, particularly if you have children, should be a “must-see” part of your Nassau trip!