Reader Experience: Lessons Learned from a Misbooked Avios/American Award

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TPG reader Eric wrote to me this week about a very frustrating experience he just had with British Airways and American Airlines.

As a background, Eric’s sister was visiting him in Miami and he had purchased her an award ticket home on American Airlines using 7,500 Avios. Once she arrived at the airport, however, American told her that there was no record of her flight and the only way she could fly that night is if she paid $400 for another ticket. Even though she showed the representative her confirmation from British Airways, they said they could not help her and weren’t budging.

Be aware the Executive Club closes at 8pm ET.
Be aware the Executive Club closes at 8pm ET.

Eric tried getting in touch with British Airways, but was directed to the Executive Club since it was award ticket. Since it was just after 8pm, the Executive Club line was closed until the morning so Eric and his sister were left with no other option than to just return home for the night and figure it out from there since there was no way they were going to pay over $400 for the same ticket.

The next morning Eric took up the issue with the Executive Club and calmly explained the situation. They responded telling him that there should have been a ticket number from American on the confirmation and since there wasn’t it was the fault of Eric. After pushing back on that and showing that he’s never had the ticket number on his BA confirmation in the past, the representative agreed to help Eric, though there was only one flight with one seat left which was First Class for 22,500 miles. Finally, after refusing to the redeem the extra miles and requesting to get a supervisor involved, the representative caved and booked Eric’s sister in the First Class seat for no additional miles.

Although I frequently book award tickets through British Airways and have never had an experience like Eric’s, there are three important things we should take away from this:

1. If you book with a flight using Avios on an airline other than British Airways, call the BA Executive Club line at 800-452-1201 to make sure you have been ticketed and ask for your ticket number and a confirmation number with the other airline. Other TPG readers also suggest that once you make your reservation, you should be sure to upload it to your account on AA.com and send yourself an e-ticket ticket as well as picking your seats on AA.com. Once you have an AA confirmation number, ticket and seat assignment, you should have no issues like this.

2. Should you ever be in the same situation in which my Eric’s sister found herself, make sure you call the Executive Club line and be empowered by the knowledge that they are aware of their own system glitch. Don’t let them tell you that YOU did something wrong.

3. Phone agents CAN help you in this situation.  Do not shell out any additional Avios points if you miss a flight due to this glitch.

I had a similar situation last year with United and Swiss that is still unresolved after numerous attempts to contact United. Bottom line: always make sure that you have a ticket number and you can pull the reservations up online, especially when booking partner airlines with frequent flyer miles.

Has anyone else had a similar situation?

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