Being that I just got over Covid-19 a month before New Years, tested negative, and have antibodies (not sure how long), I decided to make good use of them (antibodies), and travel to Rio de Janeiro for New Years, for Reveillon!
I, of course still use the same precautions as I did before I had Covid, I am not taking anything for granted!
When I was sitting at home recovering from the evil virus, a deal came across my email from Scott’s Cheap Flights , for rio de janeiro, Brazil. I have written about Scott’s Cheap Flights Before, HERE. The flight originated in New York, This is not unusual, as one normally has to get a “deal” or “mistake fare” from a city other than their own. I booked the ticket and then booked what’s called a “positioning flight ” from my city to Nyc and back. Doing it this way meant I had two tickets but both were on the same carrier, and all the connections were legal (meaning the connection time was deemed sufficient by the airline for the particular airports.
I booked with American Airlines, and I did this because I recently did a status match with Qatar Airways to their top level, Platinum, and since Qatar and American are both part of the Oneworld Alliance, I could fly American, yet credit the miles to Qatar, and use them to prequalify for my status and build up miles with a fabulous airline! (Qatar is fabulous! I love Delta, it’s MY AIRLINE, but Qatar planes, clubs, airports, employees, food, seats, etc etc, are simply amazing!)
Anyone who knows me , knows that I am OCD, and I double triple check every rule thrice. I called American Airlines a total of 3 times, and triple checked that all was ok. The night before my flight I called, and a very nice agent told me everything looks great and make sure to tell the agents at the airport to check the bags all the way through to Rio, since it was all AA flights.
Airport (Oklahoma City)
On the day of my flight, I arrived to the AA counter to check-in ,and asked that they check the bags to my final destination, and I mentioned the agent I spoke to the night before had notated the account that the tickets were “cross – referenced “ and details about the luggage was notated.
I was immediately met by a “NO” (I heard a lot of that word dealing with AA that day). I was informed that AA does not allow this and that I would need to collect my bags in New York, and re-check them, all, in a 45 minute window. Actually the window of time was less, as that time was until the next flight left, NOT when the next flight boarded. I knew this was impossible, and told the agent this and I was told “ you should have thought about that”… Really lady?
A supervisor was called and boy, let me tell you, she LOVED the word NO! Nope it can’t be done. AA does not do that… people try to cheat the system and , blah blah blah , she was trying to tell me about hidden city tickets, or skip-lagging, but my situation was the opposite of that, I wasn’t trying to leave early I was just trying to get my luggage to Rio.
By this time, I had to decide to get on the plane to Dallas, or stay there. I was told to talk to someone in Dallas about it, so I decided to go on, and argue my case in Dallas.
When I boarded the plane in OKC, I was STUNNED to see that it was 100% FULL, with ZERO seats left. And If you’ve ever flown AA, you know their seats are on top of each other their so close! I have gotten so used to Delta , blocking the middle seats , and pledging to do so until at least March, 2021, that this seemed so odd to me.
I almost got off the plane, and in all honesty, I should have, for so many reasons. But I didn’t.
When I arrived to Dallas , I went immediately to the Admirals Club to speak to an agent. The lady started off nice enough, but immediately started treating me like I was a crook or trying to get by with something. The “no’s” started one after another and instead of trying to figure out what options I had (like changing flights, etc etc) she was just one no after another, (this really seemed like it was a AA cultural thing, because everyone I interacted with loved the word, and loved saying it) This agent, nor any of the agents I spoke to , made me feel like they cared one bit if my flight got canceled or not, they just simply could not be bothered, period.
After useless back and forth I realized that I could get to RIO, but my luggage could not, and I literally spent HUNDREDS on getting traditional outfits (white and certain color “accessories) , my luggage was full of gifts for the staff of the hotel, and frankly, I didn’t know what would happen to it in NYC, or wherever it may end up, so with no alternative, I told her I had no choice but to cancel. To be quite frank, I was uncomfortable with the thought of being on another full plane for 9 hours anyway, since, you know, there is a pandemic going on and all.
My flights were cancelled and I asked that my luggage be sent to the luggage carousel close to where I was, and that was that. (after an hours wait),I had no other option!
So I was stuck in Dallas with no way home, (Im being dramatic, of course…TouringTony is NEVER STUCK…) but I wasn’t really ready to go home, so I rented a Mustang Convertible from Hertz,with my Presidents Circle status I got from Founders Card, and checked into the Hyatt Regency in downtown Dallas. The reason I chose Hyatt will become more clear very soon, but if you’ve been following me you know somethings up, like my last minute, 22 hour trip to Las Vegas last week, …Stay Tuned for more on that!
It seems that American is the only of the big three (AA, Delta and United) that will not “through check” bags on separate tickets. I pulled up all the policies and it seems , for whatever reason, American feels it beneficial to put customers out and cause more work for themselves.
A side note, that the agent in Dallas told me I agreed to this when I booked the flights, that It was in the fine print, but I still cannot find ANY mention of this on AA’s site, I found the info on their travel agent help guide.
I am not quite sure what I am out yet financially, but its probably around a thousand dollars or more. I have no use for all the white clothes and shoes I bought, the gifts , some where food and candy and wont keep, and not counting the cost of 3 nights of hotels (the one in RIO was paid for by points) here in Dallas and 3 days of rental car. The list goes on and on. (Trust this, I did pick my hotels strategically to work on status and points)
The hotel (in Rio) had many things arranged for me, as The Sheraton Grand, in my opinion, could be a training Hotel for Marriott International on customer service, Loyalty appreciation, fabulous food, and more! The Hotel had me in the Vice Presidential suite , as a free upgrade , they always do! And with one days notice, I am not sure they were able to sell that room or not, I hope they did! So the hotel may be out as well because of AA’s silliness!
I rebooked my flight, that night, on Delta, FROM NYC, and I will book a positioning flight that will be a separate ticket and they WILL send my bags all the way to Rio , I assure you.
I booked the same hotel, and they have already put me in my Suite!
I feel American Airlines has lost its soul. It used to be one of the best and their customer service was gold standard! I assure you that is no longer the case!
It would take a whole lot for me to fly American again, and It would be hard during the pandemic, because it’s apparent, they care more about profit than peoples lives by not only allowing the middle seats to be blocked, and booking to 100% capacity. Restaurants aren’t allowed 100% and I assure you, you are not as close to each other in a restaurant as you are on an American flight.
Thanks for reading, and PLEASE, TRAVEL MORE!