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Whether you’re a shiny top tier triple aluminum card member with an airline or a first time flyer, when things happens, everyone just wants to get home. It’s natural. While frequent flyers have always received preferential treatment of some sort, American Airlines has introduced changes which in some cases make them the only ones getting any treatment at all. American Airlines has reduced the amount of care they’ll put into assisting passengers on delayed or cancelled flights, unless they’re flying business or first class, or a very frequent flyer….

a screenshot of a flight scheduleThe Change

When delays and cancellations happen, a great tip has always been to ask an airline to “endorse” your ticket over to another airline which has flights going, whether they’re airline partners or not. Perhaps American’s plane was grounded due to maintenance issues, but Delta’s flight is good to go. Polite customers have traditionally had these requests honored, and airlines have systems in place which make it easy to move one passenger over to another. Since things happen on all airlines, it tends to even out amongst them. To summarize…

  • Elite customers with Platinum Pro or higher can still request this.
  • Elite customers with lower status than Platinum Pro can only request after 5 hours.
  • Economy passengers will not be rebooked onto other non partner carriers at all.

Unless you’re a frequent flyer with American holding Concierge Key, Executive Platinum or Platinum Pro, or in possession of a business or first class ticket – the airline will no longer do this, with few exceptions. If you’re in economy, you’re just not worth bothering to help is a fair summation.

A Shame

Airlines generally look out for business and first class customers, as well as elite frequent flyers via special phone lines, check in desks and increased flexibility when things do go wrong, but this is the first time an airline has chosen to let everyday passengers know that they’re definably less valuable. American is simply not interested in helping the 99% of travelers. Effective immediately, anyone flying economy like a normal passenger without elite benefits will be stuck until American Airlines is ready to go again, whenever that may be – and regardless of how many other airlines flights take off without issue. That seems like a real shame.

Not The First

In a slightly less controversial but equally idiotic short sided move, Delta attempted something similar last year, but didn’t discriminate between passengers. Delta refused rebooking assistance on other airlines, creating an island of one, and it turned out that it cost them. How do we know? Because they rolled the policy back, and once again re- accommodate passengers onto other flights if their’s weren’t going out. There are very few ways to spin this American Airlines story as anything but a cost saving measure, at the customers expense.

HT: ViewFromTheWing

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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