Who said American has good customer service?

I should preface this by saying that I have always been extremely impressed by American’s customer service. For one, their agents are usually in the US as opposed to United’s foreign call centers, but more importantly they’re always friendly and knowledgeable, even when calling as a non-elite.

For a long time I have considered switching some of my flying to them, but I have always been put off by their “Challenge” program, which requires one to  earn a certain number of points within 90 days to get any status with them. Even as a 1K with United (their biggest competitor) I was always told that they would only offer a challenge and not actually match status, unlike almost every other US airline. So I was talking to a friend that’s Executive Platinum (American’s top tier status, similar to 1K at United), who recommended that I call Customer Service one more time and beg for a status match. Well, I called and got a very nice agent who immediately offered me Gold status, which was interesting since I didn’t even have to prove my status with United. She recommended that I write the “Executive Desk” and said that if I write a really nice letter they might just comp me Platinum status, American’s middle tier status. So on Janaury 4 I wrote a very pleasant letter along with my “credentials” from United and faxed them off to American. Today, that’s right, February 7, I get the following response via email from American:

Dear Mr. Lucky,

RE: AAdvantage #XXXXXXX
We received your letter and are eager to respond as quickly as possible.
Accordingly, I’ve taken the liberty of answering electronically, using
the email address included in your AAdvantage membership profile.

We understand your desire to achieve the same elite status in the
AAdvantage program that you enjoy in the frequent flyer program of
United. We are eager to accommodate your request.

First, permit me to clear up a misunderstanding: It is not our policy to
automatically match elite status — in fairness to our AAdvantage
members who have qualified on their own. On the other hand, we are
always eager to welcome new customers, especially if they are
dissatisfied with their current carrier. Therefore, we have a special
challenge for you:

Simply earn 10,000 points between 03-01-08 and 5-31-08 on American
Airlines flights, and you will receive AAdvantage Platinum membership
through 2-28-09. Here’s how you earn points: 

When you purchase First Class, Business Class or Full Fare Economy Class
(booking codes Y and B), you earn 1.50 points per mile flown; for
Discount Economy you earn 1.00 point per mile; and for Deep Discount
Economy you earn .50 points per mile. (Discount Economy includes fares
booked in H, K, M, L, W, and V. Deep Discount Economy includes fares
booked in G, N and S; eligible domestic fares booked in O; and fares
booked in Q, excluding transatlantic fares.) Only points earned on
American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection flights count
toward your challenge. 

We hope this offer of a “quick qualification” for AAdvantage Platinum
status enables you to join the ranks of AAdvantage elite members at a
level you will enjoy. Thanks for giving us the chance to earn your
business.

Regards,

Sue XXX
AAdvantage Customer Service
American Airlines

P.S. I noticed that you’re not earning AAdvantage® miles for your credit
card purchases, which is so easy to do. For a limited time, you can earn
25,000 bonus miles after making $750 in purchases within 4 months of
becoming a Citi® / AAdvantage® cardmember. That’s enough for a travel
award for your next vacation. To speak with a Citi representative about
enrolling, please call 800-640-1517 (be sure to have your AAdvantage
number handy). Or use this link to visit www.miles7.citicards.com to
apply and for more offer details. 

To learn about other ways to earn AAdvantage miles, receive exclusive
bonus offers from name-brand companies and hear about discounted fares,
visit www.aa.com/subscribe. Make the most of your membership!

Wow, I’m pretty speechless at this point. Is it just me or do airlines seem to do a great job of butchering emails which could be incredibly simple? Let me tackle a few of the main issues:

  • They “are eager to respond as quickly as possible.” If it takes over a month to respond to a simple fax I don’t want to know what customer service will be like if I actually make a switch to them and have real concerns.
  • Oh great, they have a “special challange” for me. Last time I checked anyone could take part in that challenge. Thanks for making me feel special, American!
  • They decided to “clear up a misunderstanding.” Nice to see they didn’t read my original fax to them, where I specifically stated that I understand it’s not generally American’s policy to status match.
  • I thought I was contacting American and not USAirways. What’s with the credit card advertisement?

Now I’m not trying to act like this is the end of the world for American and me, as it’s not. It’s just another example of how stupid these airlines assume we are. Also, I don’t think this represents American as a whole. I’m willing to bet this was either a bad agent or a bad department that’s used to sending out emails to clueless people. I may end up flying American to the Freddies in April (which are in Phoenix this year), in which case I might just go for a Platinum challenge. Oh well, it was worth a try, right?

Comments

  1. Hey Lucky, going back through old blogs in my spare time. I can’t help but think how opposite most people’s reactions would be nowadays. I am now the age you were when starting the blog so I never saw this side of airlines, but a personalized response would blow me away today. Additionally, flying only 10k miles for platinum sounds nice… Interesting to see the evolution over time! Especially that you used a fax?!? lol

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