Back in August I helped a couple from Boston secure two economy award seats to Barbados via JFK for an October Juicy Miles trip. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy threw a wrench into those plans and their outbound flights were canceled. The original flights I found for them were a great deal, priced at the MileSAAver Off Peak level of 25,000 round-trip per person. To American’s credit, they enacted an extremely generous Hurricane Sandy rebooking policy, allowing for changes to flights all the way through December 20th and original inventory (T in this case) did NOT need to be available. This meant that any flight with available coach seats could be utilized for their trip. There was just one problem, as two public school teachers, the couple had no vacation again until December break which was not scheduled to begin until two days after the travel waiver expired. I spoke to several AAdvantage agents and supervisors to plead their case, but with an almost 60 day rebooking policy that was more generous than any of the agents had ever seen before (and much more generous than the competition), I had no luck. Even worse, there were no MileSAAver awards in economy (35k) or first (60k) available for all of xmas week. I recommended booking for spring break instead (when MileSAAver awards were still available) or canceling the trip all together and redepositing the miles (a free option with the waiver). Against my advice, the couple decided to spend big with the Economy AAnytime Award, priced at 70k per person, as they did not want to delay their five year anniversary celebration any further and wanted to combine it with a holiday celebration. I can’t tell you how much this pained me, I tried to explain to them all the places they could go in business or first class for the same 70k miles, but in the end there was no reasoning. The total trip cost increased by 90,000 miles from 50,000 to 140,000 miles!
Before making the change, I was able to find one sympathetic agent who credited each of the travelers with 5,000 courtesy miles, bringing the trip cost down to 65,000 per person. In addition, she recommended sending a letter to American Customer Care explaining the situation after the couple returned from their trip. I took her advice and sent an email on their behalf in early January, praising AA for their Hurricane Sandy waiver but explaining why for two teachers the new dates were impossible to travel. I admitted that it was their choice to travel during Christmas week instead of rescheduling later or cancelling their flights, but asked if there was any courtesy they could extend to these two hardworking educators who had now drained their AAdvantage accounts. Well, the couple received a phone call from American this Tuesday with very good news. After researching the original and new itineraries, American decided to credit them back all miles above the originally booked itinerary! In total, 45,000 miles were returned to each of their accounts and American thanked them for their dedication to education. WOW, what an incredible response! Taking into account the 5,000 courtesy credit, the cost of each of their tickets from BOS-BGI was only 20,000 AAdvantage miles. I’m extremely impressed by American for going above and beyond, although in my opinion they had already done right by customers impacted by the storm. Maybe it really is a new American.