[update 2013-04-22: this has been resolved! scroll down for more details]
in my experience, getting reticketed when the airlines you are flying are not the airline that issued the ticket (i.e., the metal doesn’t match the stock) is a dicey proposition. on my way home from Brazil, my biggest worry was getting my American Airlines boarding pass with less than 90 minutes between landing at O’Hare and my connecting flight to Los Angeles. turns out, that was the least of my concerns. thanks to landing early and Global Entry, i got to the American terminal with time to spare.
the problem started when i tried to check in at a kiosk — it spit out a slip saying “VCR NOT PRESENT” or something like that. i went down to the Elite check-in counter (thanks again to AA for a soft landing to Gold status), where i was informed that my ticket was reissued without that final ORD-LAX segment. the AA agent (Dontatella, who was amazing throughout this process), was at the mercy of TAM, who we had a hard time reaching. calls to their English line kept getting dropped after one ring. i tried calling their Spanish and Portuguese lines, but neither rep spoke English (i knew i was taking a chance there, but i was desperate — the other AA agent at the counter kept laughing because she asked “Do you speak Spanish?” “Do you speak Portuguese?” and i answered no to both). Donatella was able to pull up the old ticket and printed out the receipt below which had the ORD-LAX flight, but my new ticket (which she was unable to pull up since it had no AA segment?) didn’t.
by this time, it was very close to boarding and TAM could not be reached, so Donatella started looking into one-way ticket purchase options. she was on the line with the fare desk trying to see if she could get me any cheaper options when i finally got the TAM English line to go through (we both must have tried at least five times each). the TAM agent said she was unable to help (we think she even went to a supervisor, as we were on hold for about five minutes) because the back office that could reissue a ticket was still closed for about another hour and told me that i would have to buy a one-way ticket and file a claim.
oh such dreaded words, file a claim. at this rate i’m not expecting to see my $540.90 ($505.90 ticket + $35 fee for getting it issued in person) back any time soon, if at all, but bet your bottom dollar i’m going to fight tooth and nail for it. i’m posting this while on AA 1341 flight directly back to the bay area. this was the better option as opposed the one i was supposed to be on (to LAX and then connecting to my Southwest positioning flight back to OAK) because it was a) cheaper by several hundred dollars and b) i think i would have likely missed that flight because this was dragging on for so long anyways.
and now that i am looking for images to support my post, i see the problem. there was a schedule change to my ticket that resulted in the need for a ticket to be reissued in January. priceline (who i bought the ticket from) was having trouble doing it, so i semi-complained on twitter and @TAMAirlines helped — which i happily blogged about then.
scrolling through the email that i got from TAM after my ticket was reissued, i see that it’s missing the last segment. so yes, it’s partially my fault for not noticing then (or maybe i did notice but didn’t think it was important?) but:
you can see my itinerary abruptly ends at ORD, with the final segment to LAX now gone.
now i have to figure out how to file a claim and hope for the best. i’ll keep you posted! and lesson learned — question everything.
call 1: “hi, i’d like to know how to file a claim for a refund.” agent: “what would you like to do?” me: [explain situation in 3 sentences] *call disconnected* O_o
call 2: got out of the hold queue only to be disconnected
call 3: explained my situation, was told to email firstname.lastname@example.org. scanning and putting together my email now! *cross fingers*
sent email heh still can’t believe i’m applying for a ~$540 refund on a $402 ticket. but dammit that money is mine! at least that email address is valid — that’s a good start.
Your request was received and will be processed in a period up to 30 days. Thank you for contact us.
International Refund Group.
reply from someone (actual personal email address!) from the LATAM Group in Miami (nice to see they’ve integrated support) asking for documentation again and my address. this is looking up! yay!
sent email with the scan of the documents again to this person
Dear Mr. Khoo:
Thank you for sending the ticket images. I have forwarded these to headquarters and hope to receive a reply shortly.
I will keep you posted.
sent an email to that person from the LATAM group asking about a status
Dear Mr. Khoo:
Please be assured we continue to work on your claim and are pressuring the pertinent department for the necessary data to conclude matters on your behalf. We will do our utmost to reply as quickly as possible.
Thank you for your patience throughout this process.
@jonk Hi Jonathan, we are checking your case. Soon will notify you. Thank you.
— TAM Airlines (@TAMAirlines) April 2, 2013
(no further news from their Twitter account)
sent another email to that person from the LATAM group asking about a status. as of April 10, no response yet, but i guess they do have another day to make the 30-day mark.
time for a celebratory guarana! yay!!!
the check arrived while i was gone on business, but just for the record, it’s here and in the full amount of my request. hooray!