Irrops handling by American Airlines–a very positive experience


Most of the time you only read about negative experiences with something in the internet. Especially when it comes to travel related frustrating situations like oversold flights, delays and cancellations. I know, I am not an exception. It is way easier to complain (also to get rid of the frustration) as to honor a good experience.

So now it’s time for a laudable report about my recent incident with American Airlines.

Actually, I was booked on 3 flights on November, 26th 2012 with American Airlines:

  1. AA 162 HNL-LAX 13:30 21:00 First Boeing 757-200 N194AA
  2. AA 010 LAX-JFK 21:30 05:45+1 First
  3. AA 655 JFK-STT 08:10 13:15 Business

Check-in, boarding and take-off at Honolulu Airport was as usual, nothing notable. We left the gate on time and service started soon. Looked like a smooth flight.

Suddenly after approximately 1:30 inflight, the pilot made an announcement which led to this blog post: we need to turn around and fly back to HNL airport. Something with the air condition does not work and this is a safety issue he cannot ignore. And as the distance to Honolulu airport unfortunately is shorter than to Los Angeles we really need to fly back. I guess you can somewhat imagine, how enthusiastic the passengers on this fully booked flight were about this change in their travel plans. But safety first, of course.

I do not fly much, but I had never to turn back to my origin airport. And as I had no urge to be as quick as possible in STT I decided to stay calm and let things go as they go. One of the many purposes of this trip was to get more experience with the oneworld Alliance, mainly with British Airways and American Airlines. I was just curious about how AA deals with this issue. I have had only a few severe delays until now (less than 1% of my flights) with Lufthansa, United Airlines and US Airways. So I sat back and relaxed. Could not change it anyways.

The pilot announced that his plan was to get the air con controller repaired in HNL and then continue our flight to LAX as soon as possible. It was a Los Angeles based flight crew so I guess they also wanted to spend the night at home by their loved ones.

The crew continued the inflight service as best as possible. First class was served with drinks and a delicious salad. We reached the gate at Honolulu at approximately 17:00. Maintenance crew was already waiting for us. Cockpit crew kept us informed about the progress with several announcements during the ground time. Ground staff brought bottled water for the Economy cabin. Just a few passengers tried to get out of the plane to either be rebooked or to cancel the trip. As far as I could see, cabin crew and gate agents did their best to accommodate these passengers, even when one or two did not stay calm and tried to vent. But overall, everybody really stayed relaxed. During the time on ground about 8-10 people left the plane and to families boarded new.

During the wait I checked my record locator for this trip as well as other options to fly to STT just to be prepared for the worst. But I did not ask anyone to rebook me. I was really surprised that my Amadeus booking changed every couple of minutes and I saw that I got booked onto several flight routes out of HNL and LAX as a precaution. Routings included i.e. HNL-DFW-MIA-STT or HNL-LAX-MIA-STT, HNL-LAX-DFW-MIA-STT and so on. It’s not easy to get rebooked with such a short notice, especially in first/business class. Most of my recent domestic flights were fully booked and AA also upgrades it’s top tier guests in advance. So if you want to book/rebook it’s difficult to get a seat. Frankly, even as a HON Circle Member with Lufthansa, I have never seen something similar. Never got automagically rebooked onto different flights. Always had to be active from my side to get on another flight. But, as I mentioned already, luckily I did not have many situations.

Luckily the maintenance crew was finally able to fix the issue and we left the gate again at 19:05 with destination Los Angeles. Service continued where it was stopped so we got a hot meal. Liked it. Shortly before landing the flight attendant made an announcement that there will be American Airlines agents at the gate in LAX to help us with our onward journey. I was curious about the procedure.

We arrived at Los Angeles International Airport at 02:05 in the morning of November 27th. My next possible connection was at 08:00 to DFW so I already prepared myself for some hours at a gate at the airport. Had a flight cancellation with British Airways in London Heathrow recently and it took my 2 hours (!) to get a hotel voucher and being rebooked onto a next day’s flight. I had that in mind plus boarding at 07:30 and security check etc. So this meant approx 2-3h in a hotel to be paid by me? No way.

To my big surprise there was really a team of agents at the gate waiting for us. Thumbs up! As I was one of the first passengers to leave the plane I just walked to the counter and asked if they have information about my onward journey. I got an envelope handed over to me containing three boarding passes, a hotel voucher for the Holiday Inn LAX and a $7 breakfast voucher. Wow. Everything was already prepared and no need to discuss anything. I also saw that there was a large stack of AA envelopes for most/all other passengers. As I travel with carry on bags only I went straight to the ground transportation area just to literally bump into the Holiday Inn shuttle bus. What a timing! Was in my hotel room 20 minutes after arriving at the gate! Wow. Couldn’t been any faster at all. So I got 3 hours of sleep and a shower.

My onward journey was smooth without any further issues.

Thank you, American Airlines!

I know, this might be an exception, as the gate agents had approximately 4-5 hours to prepare the rebooking for all of us. And I guess, my next irrops with AA won’t be that well prepared. However I really liked the way how AA cared. And also a big thank you to the Crew of American Airlines flight #AA162. They also had a long day to work and remained very friendly all time.

See you soon on another American Airlines flight.


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