5 Tips for Avoiding Hassle During the American Airlines System Failure Aftermath

by on April 16, 2013 · 17 comments

in American, Points Guy Pointers

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Even though American has fixed their computer issues, thousands are still stranded or severely delayed. American’s head of communications just emailed me and stated that AA is offering the following options:

1) If customers must travel today and are already at the airport, they can rebook on another airline by visiting an American Airlines agent or by going to the other airline’s ticket counter with their electronic ticket number.  
2) If customers must travel today and are not yet at the airport, they can rebook through American Airlines reservations or through another carrier and American will honor the fare difference.
3) If a customer chooses not to travel today, there will be no charge for reservation changes or a full refund will be provided.
 We will add extra sections later today and tomorrow to further accommodate passengers whose flights were cancelled.”

If you’re still trying to get assistance with reaccomodation the current phone hold times on the main customer service line are over 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Here are 5 tips to help you get home quicker.

1. Call an international office using Skype or other VOIP programs. Often these offices are running business as usual with no wait times. Here is the link to their international reservation lines and a quick list. I just called the Japanese-speaking callers and the wait time was only 9 minutes. I’m sure those phone reps also know how to speak English since they often need to call central ticketing in Dallas to get things done.

English-Speaking Callers* 1-800-433-7300 24 hours/day, Daily
Japanese-Speaking Callers* 1-800-237-0027 6:00 a.m. – 12:00 midnight (CT) Daily
Mandarin Chinese-Speaking Callers* 1-800-492-8095 7:00 a.m. – 12:00 midnight (CT) Daily
Spanish Speaking Callers* 1-800-633-3711 24 hours/day, Daily

2. Tweet @americanair. They may be overwhelmed today, but usually they are some of the quickest responders to customer questions and complaints.

3. If you don’t have the cash to lay down for a ticket on a competitor and you can’t get them to take over your American ticket, use frequent flyer miles to book on another carrier and then follow up with AA to see if they will compensate you in miles or cash for the additional money you needed to lay out for your trip. American has stated they would honor the fare difference, so hopefully they’d honor the situation where someone used miles or points to rebook. I would first recommend trying to get the other carrier to take your existing ticket, but if you absolutely have to get home and don’t have the cash, this is an option. It seems like AA is motivated to do right by the customer, so I’d be fairly optimistic in a fair outcome.
4. Use a phone service that will call you when the hold time is up to save time and money, especially while abroad. and are two of my favorites (feel free to share yours).

5. Go to the lounge for assistance. The Amex Platinum and Citi Executive AAdvantage credit cards will get you in for free or you can buy a $50 lounge pass (and try to get reimbursed for that down the line). Lines in the lounges are generally much shorter than the regular ticketing desks and the agents are more experienced. Reach out to friends on social media to see if they know anyone in the lounges or if all else fails, ask someone going into the lounge to guest you in since a solo traveler will be able to bring in a free guest. Hey, it never hurts to ask!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Kate

    The wait at lounges is long .. long .. but things seem to be clearing up a bit in Miami.

  • Matthew

    Almost, Brian. Almost got a post in without including an affiliate link for a credit card app.

  • Michael Carey

    Great post, Brian

  • Anit Parikh

    Got to O’Hare at 12:30pm for a 1:45pm flight to SNA. Did not find out about the system failure until I got to the gate. Headed to the Admiral’s Club to wait out this fiasco and it the lounge was packed. American agents at the Admiral’s Club had absolutely no useful information – pure chaos. Found out all flights were grounded until 4pm Central thanks to Twitter and CNN. Got a little anxious, so went back to the gate around 3pm, and found out the gates had changed. Hustled over to the new gate, and they started boarding the flight in an effort to get it out before the other flights. We still sat on the plane for an hour, but seemed to be one of the first planes to depart. I’ll get home 2.5 hours later than I expected, but it could have been way worse. AA has to address their IT issues. But the internal communication processed seemed completely broken as well. AA has to address how to quickly and efficiently send updates to their customer-facing employees. I literally overheard passengers asking the same question over and over, and none of the customer-facing employees had any information to share.

  • Joe


  • sheldon

    I’m on the Spanish line and it has been 11 mins and still no answer. Hopefully soon.

  • sheldon

    at 15 minutes they attended. Great success.

  • sheldon

    Because I booked with points they sent me to AAdvantage reservations, which took 30 mins. Call them directly if you booked with points it will save you 15 mins of waiting.

  • ML

    I think we have a new front runner for most creative way to push a CC affiliate link

    This ones going to be tough to top – someone will need to push the SPG Amex in a post about how you visited a Shinto shrine in Tokyo

  • Lively

    Good information. Thanks.

  • Chris

    Matthew, did you work for free today?

  • Guest

    are there any apps like Lucyphone that will call you back at an international number?

  • terri

    are there any services like lucyphone that will call you back at an international number?

  • thepointsguy

    Yikes… though glad you got home. 2.5 hours late is pretty good considering the widespread outage!

  • thepointsguy

    And even a link to a non-affiliate card! When talking about credit cards with specific benefits I always link to them.

  • StockShooter

    If one forfeits a pre-paid hotel reservation due to this event,
    how is one protected by Contract of Carriage?

  • thepointsguy

    I don’t think there is any specific protections, but I’d proactively reach out to the hotel and also AA to see what they can do. Hopefully either or both will do right by you

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