Why did American reverse course on my compensation?


When Alan Estrebou is delayed by almost a day on American Airlines, the company promises him compensation. Then it backs out. Should American honor its word?

Question: I recently experienced a 23-hour delay when flying from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to San Francisco on American Airlines. I spent nine hours at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and around 36 hours without sleep because of this issue, and also spent extra money on the rental car due to the late pickup. Finally, I missed two important business meetings that were the original reason for this trip.

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I contacted American customer-relations representatives about 15 times (both on the phone and through email), and, long story short, I initially was offered 12,000 miles in compensation. Then I got an apologetic email giving me just 6,000 miles, which most likely was sent to every person that had been on the same flight as me, as a generic response.

Then I contacted customer relations again, and they issued a $500 e-voucher. But to my surprise, they canceled it later, and now they are telling me that all I will get as a gesture of goodwill are those 6,000 miles.

I’ve contacted an American representative on LinkedIn, asking the company to do the right thing. After several exchanges, the representative said my only option was to file a complaint through American’s online form. She also said, “If you contact me again I will file with AA Corporate Security on a business and personal level.”

I’d like American to do what it promised. Can you help? — Alan Estrebou, Ituzaingó, Argentina

Answer: American should have gotten you to San Francisco as scheduled, not a day later. When it couldn’t do so, it should have at least followed through with its full promised compensation.

Let’s take a closer look at the compensation. American offered you a grand total of 12,000 miles as an apology for being delayed by a day. If you were flying in other parts of the world, such as Europe, you would have been entitled to cash for the trouble. As an admitted mileage skeptic, I’m not sure how valuable (or sincere) the miles were, but something is better than nothing.

The e-voucher was a little better, but bear in mind that airline scrip, or credit, can have limits and it expires, so that apology was a limited-time offer.

It’s not clear why American withdrew its original offer. When it did, you should have filled out its online form, and if that didn’t work, appealed to one of American’s executives. I list their names, numbers and emails on my site (elliott.org/company-contacts/american-airlines/).

I’m not sure if contacting an American employee through LinkedIn was the best course of action. LinkedIn is used for career development, not customer service issues, although I’m surprised you got the reaction you did. Even so, asking for help is no crime, and there’s nothing American’s “Corporate Security” department can do to protect an employee from a customer with a question.

In your case, it appears American was under no legal obligation to offer you anything. But it obligated itself when it offered you miles and a voucher. It should honor its word.

I contacted American on your behalf. It reversed course and issued the 12,000 miles, as promised.


16 thoughts on “Why did American reverse course on my compensation?

  1. Chris, I’m glad that you were able to get something for this pax, but it is a bit labor intensive to have to do this sort of thing for each case. Perhaps there is a better way to handle categories of cases, instead of the ‘one of’ model? I wish I had a suggestion that would help. I keep going back to the idea of pax recording all calls with airlines, as they do with their ‘sheeple’, um I mean valued passengers. It’s a shame that you have to shame them to do the right thing, and even their right thing is paltry in this case.

    1. Secretly I think that Chris is a masochist and enjoys this type of thing :-p

      I’m just shocked he would help in a dispute over miles!!!

      1. The dispute was that first American offered compensation of any kind and then withdrew it without clarifying why – not what form of compensation.

        LinkedIn wasn’t the best way to ask their customer service representative for help, but threatening to send Corporate Security for using it after him was both inappropriate and ineffective. Corporate Security couldn’t do anything to him because after treating him as they did, it’s very unlikely that he’d ever fly American again.

        1. “After several exchanges…”

          Of what nature? It’s quite possible that an irate passenger sent something that might be construed as threatening. Do you have the details of that exchange?

          1. Do you have proof that any such exchanges took place that were threatening? Do you have details of what was posted on LinkedIn?

            I said that I don’t think it was the best way to ask for help. But I don’t think the mere use of LinkedIn to request assistance either constituted a threat to the representative, nor do I think threatening him with Corporate Security was an appropriate response, unless the actual messages sent through LinkedIn contained accusatory or threatening language. Do you have proof that any of them did?

            If you don’t, then don’t question me about what I have proof of.

          2. Do you have proof that he didn’t? No. Just as “Fishplate” doesn’t have any that he did. Why is there all this backbiting?

          3. Repeatedly contacting an American rep on Linked In is obviously not the right way to get some compensation. The AA rep was probably polite the first couple of rounds, but felt hounded by our OP. Then not following her suggestions to use AA’s online form was the final straw. Linked In, as far as I know, is a quaisi-personal site to offer career and networking opportunities.

          4. Do I have any proof? Of course not. Neither, I suspect, do you.

            But why are you so offended when I question whether or not
            the airline representative was unreasonable in mentioning that they felt threatened? It’s a perfectly reasonable question, and one that is logical in the process of sorting out this problem.

            You say “I don’t think…” – do you have any knowledge of the conversation, or any reason to suspect that one version is as possible as another?

          5. Guys,
            Please leave each other alone. I don’t want to have to start deleting conversational threads. Thanks.


  2. I’m surprised they gave him anything after he personally stalked an AA employee on LinkedIn. That is a misuse of LinkedIn and he should be kicked off. This guy sounds like a stalker and it would freak me out if some stranger did this. This man has serious boundary issues. I am not surprised they reneged. They probably don’t want him flying with them again.

    1. i have to agree. LinkedIn was an inappropriate avenue for his issue. i’d also be seriously creeped out if someone contacted me that way, repeatedly. and though it may not be PC, i understand her fear being a woman harassed by a man.

      1. I agree. However, I think she might have framed it better by just telling him that she told him what she could; to file a complaint on American’s claim form and perhaps tell him that she was not the right person to contact concerning this matter and she would be unable to help him further. If he kept on, I guess she would have grounds to bring in her supervisor and perhaps others to try to get Alan to stop contacting her. It is s shame some people do not seem to understand that after they contact someone and the person offers them what assistance he/she can, they just keep on.

  3. LinkedIn is a professional networking platform, not a social media platform. If you are an airline employee working in Customer Service(In an ideal world EVERY airline employee would consider themselves to be working in Customer Service) then that is your profession and networking with you on it is fair game. I have worked extremely closely with LinkedIn since nearly the beginning, and I’m certain that LinkedIn would also have no issue with this use of the platform.

    As for the compensation, once it was offered it should have been honored.

    1. I agree although it depends how the contact was being made and how much was being made. I am glad Chris got the 12000 miles. I think that $500 would have been good also. Cutting it to $600 was unacceptable.

  4. If she had threatened me with “corporate security”, I would have given her a response that would make her even more unhappy.

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