Remember Delta’s latest TV ad, which I thought was pretty awesome? Here it is, for those of you that haven’t seen it:
My favorite line in it is “we must never let the rules overrule common sense.” That’s pretty damn rare in the airline industry, though I had a case of it with American today which I feel like sharing. No, it’s hardly earth shattering, but it’s still an example where I feel the agent didn’t “let the rules overrule common sense.” You’d think most agents in airline lounges would be exceedingly friendly and professional since they’re dealing with the airline’s premium passengers, though in my experience American is the only US legacy airline with consistently friendly lounge agents (as they call them, “AAngels”).
I’m flying with my parents out of JFK this evening on American, and we all have American Express Platinum cards so would have had access to the Admirals Club. However, I’m also British Airways Gold (OneWorld Emerald) thanks to the British Midland takeover, which gets me and one guest access to the Flagship Lounge (American’s international first class lounge) even when traveling domestically.
Of course there were a couple of obstacles. One of them was that I didn’t have my new British Airways Gold card yet, and one of the requirements for access is that you have the card. Second, while I can take two guests into the Admirals Club, I can only take one guest into the Flagship Lounge. My ideal situation would have been that the agent let my parents use the Flagship Lounge and let me use the Admirals Club, though we did even better than that.
I first presented the agent my American Express Platinum card and said “I have two guests, please.” Once she processed that I handed her my old British Airways Gold card and said “and I believe I can take one of them as a guest into the Flagship Lounge as a OneWorld Emerald with British Airways, right?” The agent pointed out that my British Airways card expired, though I explained I hadn’t received the new one yet. She offered to try and look up the number, and manually verified that I was indeed OneWorld Emerald with British Airways, so admitted me with a guest to the Flagship Lounge.
I then asked nicely if there’s any chance she’d let my parents use the Flagship Lounge and let me use the Admirals Club? She said “oh, you’re traveling with your parents?” I explained they were, and she said “don’t worry about it, I’ll be glad to make an exception and let the three of you enjoy the Flagship Lounge this time. Thanks for your loyalty.”
Let me be clear. Her letting the three of us into the lounge wasn’t “common sense,” but it was generosity. What was “not letting the rules overrule common sense” to me is not requiring that I have the British Airways card (I’ve seen a million people turned away from United Clubs for not having their cards). Furthermore, I thought my request to have them access the Flagship Lounge in my place was reasonable given the circumstances. It’s not a request they had to honor, but to me it’s logical, since either way one of us was going to be in the Admirals Club and two of us in the Flagship Lounge, and a kid trying to make their parents happy seems like it’s in everyone’s best interest.
But thanks to this awesome agent for going above and beyond. AAngels do exist… at least in Admirals Club.