Friday, December 26, 2014

A sprinkling of pixie dust from American Airlines

A few days ago I was reading an article on one of my favorite travel blogs, Mommy Points, titled 10 Tips for Easier Family Holiday Air Travel. It has some great tips for trips any time of the year. Point #2 was "double-check your seat assignments", and it reminded me to check out our seat assignments for our upcoming trip to Hawaii to make sure we were still seated together. We were ticketed on a flight to the west coast on American, and then a connecting flight to Honolulu on a partner airline.

I logged in to my husband's account, only to see some messages at the top of the screen about flight times changing and that our reservation could not be accessed at this time. I scrolled down and saw that our second connecting flight was moved a few hours earlier, and our first flight to the west coast was moved out 3 hours, making it impossible to get to Honolulu on those original flights.

I admit, at first I panicked. What does this mean??? Why hadn't American Airlines changed us to flights that would still get us to Hawaii? Is it because we booked the super-saver award seats on frequent flier miles and we were the last priority to change?

I decided to call American Airlines, even though it was the day before Christmas and I was sure the phone lines would be swamped with current travelers. We had several presents under the tree that required us to be in Hawaii, and I wasn't comfortable giving those out without being 100% certain we were on a flight.

After waiting on hold and being transferred, I finally got through to an agent and explained the situation. The agent said she would try to find us different flights, but she didn't sound very hopeful. After about 15 minutes, she said our only option was to fly out the night before our original departure date, have a 6-hour layover at LAX in the middle of the night and depart on an early morning flight.

I was both relieved and horrified at the same time. The agent said if we didn't agree to this flight, we would be refunded our miles, which would mean our trip to Hawaii would be canceled. So I was relieved that she found us a flight. But at the same time, I was horrified that  we were now flying on a red-eye flight with a middle-of-the-night layover at LAX (my least favorite airport) with 3 kids who don't sleep on airplanes. And I was confused why they couldn't put us on different flights, since there were many flights to Hawaii at more normal times that were not sold out. The agent explained that those other flights had no more award space available, which is what we needed.

To be clear, we would totally do the red-eye flight and night layover in order to get to Hawaii. We have flown on longer flights in way worse conditions with newly-adopted kiddos, and somehow we survived. But not without many tears of frustration and grumpy parents and kiddos.

I asked to be transferred to a supervisor and tried to remember those old words of wisdom, "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar."  I politely explained my situation to the supervisor, who immediately said she was going to take some steps to get us on a direct flight to Honolulu during daylight hours. Yay! Really??? She said she had to work with another department to request more award space on a flight, and then we would be re-ticketed to the direct flight.

Hawaii or bust!
It took a few days for our tickets to be fixed and changed. During those days, my husband wondered if the phone agent just said that to get me off the phone, LOL! But she came through for us, and now we are on a daytime flight to Hawaii on our original date of departure. Our flight is even better than the one we had originally booked with miles, since it's direct and not as early in the morning.

So I guess the moral of the story is...don't forget to check your seat assignments, and be nice to the phone agents!

Has anyone else experienced an involuntary flight/schedule change on an award ticket? What was the outcome?


  1. We had a similar thing happen to us for our Hawaii flight. I went on to check something and saw that our connecting flight had changed for the way home and it was leaving before we would even arrive to the airport from our original flight. I called and they were able to get us all new flights for the way home that were even better than our original flights. So I agree, check your reservations and then be nice when you call.

    1. Glad the flight changed worked out in your favor!