No Upgrade for YOU! Part 2

US-AA Merger

Nancy’s Experience Flying Combined AA/US FlightsUS-AA Merger

My friend ‘Nancy’ (name was changed for privacy reasons) is an American Airlines Executive Platinum who has been flying some combined American and US Airways flights. What follows is an account of her recent experience in doing so and includes a copy of her letter to US Airways and their reply.

Nancy’s Story

As I told you, some of my first flights this year were a combination of AA & US flights, for example: 9/9/14 AA: SFO-DFW-EWR and US: EWR-CLT-SFO.
It really wasn’t a totally awful experience and with my airline knowledge and AA Club access, I was able to adequately and comfortably fend for myself but for flyers not used to mixing AA and US flights, the trip could have been slightly challenging. This is especially true as the new AA is encouraging mixing flights, as if their two systems were working flawlessly together. For most large airports, I’m finding US and AA are still in different terminals, which can complicate resolving issues at the airport difficult. As you know, this is especially true at SFO; it is not easy to quickly move between T2 and T1. Thank goodness all my outbound flights were on AA & my return flights all on US, as it allowed me time to make phone calls and physically get boarding passes once past Security. The siituation could have been much more stressful if I had tight connections and if I had mixed it up even more with AA/US/AA/US.

Letter to US Airways

Hello US Airways:

As an AA Executive Platinum, even though merger is not yet complete, thought it was time I tried flying US Airways. I booked 3 trips, one on September 9th*, combination of AA & US, another all US on Oct 24th & last, one on 10/28.
My problems on Sept. 9th flights, were a mix of system issues & employee attitude:
1. Seat Selection: Was not able to select premium seating at booking, without incurring extra charges; had to call US direct to select seats for me. Disaster, no, but not convenient either, as AA could not assist, had to call US.
2.  On-line Check-in: Outbound flight was on AA & check-in was fine but I was never able to check-in online for US return flights, nor view any seat maps or the online upgrade/standby lists & this was directly on the US website. Had to use US airport desk for check-in & get boarding passes.
3. Complimentary domestic upgrade:  didn’t happen but that alone is not the issue. When I called US at 24 hr window, was told “Nothing available, first is sold out but you can ask GA’s at airport.”. Weird, because at 24hrs, 50 mins, there were 8 open first seats on both flights. Had to assume this was true as I had no access to US seat maps 10 minutes later at 24 hr window.
At both EWR and CLT, I was told by both GA’s that “we don’t offer free upgrades to AA elites”. When I countered that reciprocal upgrades were now in effect, both agents responded in a very rude manner “No don’t think so” and “nobody told me” followed by “but even if they were, first is sold out”. I said fine, could you add me to the upgrade list just in case, but again I got a bit of attitude from both agents: “NO point, sold out.”  Later, as I was waiting in the boarding line, one GA came over to talk with some other passengers (maybe friends or ones he knew). Conversation topic: passengers who think they are so special and demand things they aren’t entitled to. As I was less than 5 ft away, I was definitely within sight & hearing distance, very embarrassing. Then later, after boarding, we had 3 first class no-shows…I watched as GA came through and selected 3 pax’s for upgrades. Maybe they were all Chairman’s Preferred, but I would have liked to know I was at least considered and not treated as if I was arrogantly demanding something undeserved.
4. My ExP status was not reflected on my US reservation nor on my ticket; just listed as a OW Emerald.
Because I do fly an awful lot, I make every effort to treat all airline employees politely, with kindness and respect, in the hope to be treated in kind.
I absolutely abhor DYKWIA (Do you know who I am) behavior and do not think asking a legitimate question warrants a snotty attitude and rude response.
The above issues are somewhat minor in the big picture, but they do impact the full customer experience. The important things were all done right: Flights were smooth, safe and on-time; Captains friendly and informative; crew, kind and attentive.
Take-away lesson: don’t book mixed AA/US airline ticket until system glitches are fixed &/or merger is complete, as neither airline can access the others system, leaving the customer to fend for themselves when problems arise.
Hoping that my next US flying experience is a bit better & that US flyers are not experiencing same problems when they fly AA. Already went through an awful airline merger (UA & CO) & really hoping this one would be much easier/smoother, with end result a much better airline: other than issues stated above, so far its been pretty good, thus I remain,
Optimistically yours,

US Airways Reply

Dear ‘Nancy’:Thank you for your most recent email. Rest assured that customer satisfaction is our main focus and we want to make certain the decisions we make are based on research, facts, policies and procedures. Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with us.I am sorry that you were not able to select a seat on our flight without incurring an extra seat charge. At the time of booking seats available will be reflective on the seating chart. If the only seats available are the seats that carry an extra fee, you can elect to not choose a seat and one will be assigned to you at the airport. In addition, I am sorry that you were not able to check in online making it inconvenient to have to check-in once you got to the airport.

In regards to the upgrade to first class. Upgrades can be secured at check-in as early as 24 hours prior to departure and are offered on a first come, first served basis. If a seat is not available, members can elect to add themselves to the upgrade standby list at check-in. Based on your comments, it appears our gate agent were not informed and could have handled your situation better, with the level of respect and care US expects. This is not reflective of our company as a whole and your feedback will be used to help improve our service in Newark.

Again, we apologize for the difficulties you encountered. We value your business and are working hard to earn your continued patronage. As we are moving toward one operating certificate and merging as one airline, The New American, you will continue to see changes that will continue to make you want to make us your first choice when flying. We hope you will give us the opportunity to do so.

Mary xxxxxx
Representative, Customer Relations
US Airways Corporate Office
Of course I commiserated with Nancy on her lack of upgrade availability, but two things stand out. One is the fact that the airline personnel, from Ticket Counter Agents to Gate Agents, are simply not aware of what sort of reciprocity is supposed to be taking place. And secondly, that at least she found the US Airways flights themselves enjoyable because of the professionalism and attitudes of the flight crews.

2 Comments on "No Upgrade for YOU! Part 2"

  1. I left the following letter in US Airways and American Airlines mailboxes – oh and they are not honoring upgrades and have ruined the customer experience USAirways had been providing. The merger is a disaster and I’m not interested in being Chairman’s Preferred again – I will fly Delta, United or Lufthansa for international and domestic flights now. I’m done with the NEW AMERICAN Airlines…

    I recently booked a flight to Chicago traveling 10/05/2014 to 10/06/2014. All reservations were booked on us air however i was given no miles credit for the rewards. After I was on hold for 20 minutes being passed from one agent to another I was finally transferred to the Chairman’s Preferred desk by “Chanet” and told the flight return on American air would be credited to my miles accrual by an unidentified agent at the preferred desk. I then asked why I have to call US Airways to have this done versus it being done automatically. I explained I felt this is a violation of your disclosures for your rewards program at which time the female agent hung up on me. I called back in and spoke with “Bonnie” to see who the agent was that had hung up on me. She told me she spoke with Carrie, the Chairman’s desk supervisor, who refused to speak with me or let me know who the agent was that hung up on me. Your airline servicing is not concerned with my issues and even less concerned with the issues your train wreck merger integration is causing your customers. The least you could do is apologize for what you put your paying customers through and have some level of pretense sympathy.

    I am absolutely delighted that this is how you treat your VERY BEST CUSTOMERS! This is not a unique event as I’ve had numerous customer service issues since your “alleged” merger with American that you so proudly tout. Your airline does not care about me as an individual and you are unconcerned about my treatment as a loyal frequent flying customer. It shouldn’t have to be this difficult to spend my money with your airline. You’ve made my decision to fly alternative airlines quite easy.

    Best regards,

    John Taylor

    • I am so sorry you experienced such a frustrating situation. Although my situation was somewhat different, I do agree with you that US Airways elite frequent flyers are losing the quality care we have come to expect from US Airways. I, too, am not thrilled with the ‘New American’ where reciprocity is concerned.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.