Upcharge to Downgrade

Posted by Melissa in airlines | brand | loyalty | travel

It’s been awhile since my last blog but travel tends to inspire me to write, or maybe it’s just the ridiculous things that occur when on the road.  Last week, several colleagues and I flew to Chicago for a meeting.  I am typically a United (formerly Continental) gal but someone in the group (read: the boss) is none too pleased with United since the merger so we flew American. I was more than happy to go along for the ride particularly since the cost for a first class seat was marginally more expensive than a coach fare.  The trip out was uneventful although first class was lacking.  The trip home, however, was another story altogether.

Our meetings concluded a bit early so we bolted for the airport in hopes that we could hop on an earlier flight. During our two hour drive, a few back in the office were kind enough to help us research and rebook on an earlier flight. All was well or so we thought.  Upon arrival and check-in we learned that we were not only no longer in first class (allegedly there were no seats available which we later learned was untrue) but that we now owed American $300 EACH to move back to coach.  Wait, it gets better. Our esteemed colleague who had purchased an economy fare checked in and was upgraded and received a refund of $10 on his original ticket.  WHAT!?!?  In what universe does this make sense?

Now, I have absolutely no problem flying economy, in fact, 9 out 10 times, that’s where I am seated. The premium security access is what I am after.  American had no explanation for this except for “It’s how you booked. We don’t know why but we can’t help you.”  Well, American, the customer experience here was in no way “first class” but did have one redeeming quality. Gwen at the First Class ticketing counter at least attempted to assist us and ensured me that although we had now paid a small fortune to be downgraded we could enter through  premium security. Thank you, Gwen!  I will be flying United for the foreseeable future.  It’s not perfect but at least they make sense.

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