American Airlines Executive Platinum Phone Desk

When I first started flying American several years ago, having access to the Executive Platinum phone desk was actually one of the best things about having top tier elite status with them.

I hate the phone and do everything I can to avoid calling airlines, so it sounds silly to say that a phone number was one of the best things about having an airline elite status that gets you domestic and international upgrades, bonus miles, fee waivers, etc.

But the agents were just that good. They were consistently the friendliest and most competent phone agents of any airline.

AA EXP Benefits

Not only that, but they were empowered to make exceptions. It’s not something I ever took for granted, but for example I was legitimately feeling sick one day, and they gladly waived all change fees without any doctors notes or anything. Of course that’s not something I would consistently expect, but the key takeaway is that they were exceptionally friendly and competent.

Then a couple of years ago they closed down the Tucson call center, where most of the Executive Platinum agents were located. They gave the agents the option of working from home or transferring to another call center, though it sure seems like most agents left.

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but the past year the Executive Platinum desk has really lost its edge, in my opinion.

The agents seem indifferent and are often clueless. I’m amazed by how often they can’t find award space that’s clearly available, and it takes two or three calls to find an agent that knows how to properly look up partner award space (and this is independent of the Cathay Pacific award availability discrepancy we’re seeing now).

And beyond that the hold times the past year have been ridiculous. Admittedly we’ve seen a ton of weather issues the past several months so to some degree I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but I’ve even had substantial hold times when the weather is fine across the country.

So I’m curious, is it just me, or do other Executive Platinum members feel the same about the quality of their post-Tucson Executive Platinum agents?

Comments

  1. Absolutely. Have felt this too. The level of expertise has fallen gradually but dramatically.

  2. To be fair, I’d say that what’s happened is that the quality/experience/training of the agents has become very spotty. That is to say, there are still some excellent agents on the desk, but you never know whether you are going to get one of them. And in a sort of corollary to Murphy’s Law, I never seem to get one of them when I’m calling with a complex or unusual question. I almost wish they’d create a super-special desk that each of us could call 10 times a year or something.

  3. I can’t speak to the quality of the agents, but the hold times have gone up considerably this year. Absolutely terrible!

  4. I completely agree. I feel that there are still a few good agents out there, and I can typically tell as soon as they answer the the phone if they are going to be competent and know what to do. The experienced agents have a certain level of professional to their voice.
    Talking on the phone is becoming a lost art, and the executive platinum agents were well seasoned people who did it well.

  5. Yeah, I’ve found the EXP desk to be…incredibly hit or miss over the past year. Sometimes, I get through to a genuine AAngel. Sometimes, I feel like I’m talking to someone who’s never seen Sabre and can’t be bothered to lift a finger to help.

  6. Lucky, I know this is a little off topic, but does US Airways have a elite phone desk? I am a Gold preferred but couldn’t find any source. I have been on hold with dividend miles department for 2 hours now…

  7. agree it’s a hit or miss, some are great and then you get the ones that seem like you got the wrong number

  8. I’ve experience this decline in service over the past two years. I’m not sure if they’ve reduced the number of exp agents or not, but it seems like we get sent to the front of the regular queue as an ‘overflow’ measure, and that’s when things turn South.

    I’m hopeful that with the merger, there will be a major focus on training in general, and this will have the side benefit of improving the quality of exp and regular AAgents.

  9. I would say you’re on point. It’s very spotty. Somedays you will have an agent that says “you know you’re our most valuable client” and other will act like they have never heard of air travel. I’m concerned that some can’t even figure out fare classes and what a REfundable ticket is.

  10. Hold times went from 2 seconds to 2 hours over last few months. It is ridiculous.

    I will disagree regarding the quality of the service. I always feel EXP AAgents are trying to help me. Sometimes you get superstars, sometimes just solid ones, but never terrible ones (I’m looking at your United)

    There have been times where EXP desk has bended rules for me and I am super grateful for it.

  11. Why would anyone turn down the chance to work by phone from home!?

    And why would American allow it (e.g., kid/pet/neighborhood/TV/radio noise in the background)?

  12. EXP desk is gone with the wind! We will call you back in an hour! Sorry I have to put you on hold forever…. I agree with you 100%!

  13. I don’t see any dramatic change after 10 yrs as EXP, it is hit and miss, 75% percent of the time is fine, the other 25% is hang up and call again.

  14. Normally when I call I have to wait 20 minutes. But during the weather issues I wasn’t even allowed to be put on hold. The answering machine would say call later good bye. This went on for 2 days until I decided to call another number and got a human in 5 minutes. I guess I will be using the new phone number I found online.

  15. @Lucky

    Thanks a lot! I feel like an idiot now…. The phone went through in five minutes and the agent is in fact a lot nicer!

  16. For the most part, they are still very good. I did have an incident recently when I called to checked on the status on my SWU that I got a lady that replied “they are holding the seats to be sold to those multi-millionaires still”…

  17. Definitely spotty. Never had these type of wait times before. The last time I called I could not get an answer to my question at all. Disappointing.

  18. I’m recently Gold, and twice recently called the Gold line to get through to an otherwise unattainable USAir. The Gold agents transferred me to the preferred line at USAir – very helpful when I otherwise would have been on hold an hour or more. I was able to book my dream Asia 120k itinerary quickly and with a competent agent. Very helpful. On both ends, American and USAir, the agents were fantastic.

  19. Just yesterday it took 2 exp calls to find an F award clearly available on AA.com for JFK-LAX and then the second agent after found it claimed that the routing JFK-LAX//LAX-HKG-SGN is not legal as one award. She even stated that after consulting with the rate desk, her exp help desk and a couple of her coworker.

  20. I agree, terrible c/s at times. Some agents get it, and some done.

    I hope AA reads this post.

    This is what they should do: A survey after each call. Quick and simple. Maybe 5 questions, rating the agent on a scale of 1-10.

    Then the cream will really ride to the top, and the agents with consistently lower scores should get monitored by management to improve their ability to resolve issues to the elite member’s satisfaction.

  21. I agree that that quality has generally diminished over the year, although it is hit or miss. I have at times gotten truly excellent agents, and I still feel overall the value of the EXP desk is still high.

    @Peter Nguyen:
    Had a very similar thing happen to me recently. I was trying to book JFK // LAX-HKG-TPE in F. The agent said it wasn’t legal as one award and that the computer was pricing it as two awards. She claimed the LAX stop was not legal because, among other reasons, the “logical” connection would be ORD. I’ve always found the “most direct routing” requirement to be vague and not well defined, so I played dumb and insisted she double check. After going back and forth with the rate desk a few times, it eventually worked out, and someone at the rate desk was able to price it as one award. All’s well that ends well, I suppose.

  22. We had been spoiled with Tucson. That said, I would still take AA EXP any day over the elite agents of other airlines. Just booked IAD-AUH-MCT-DXB-DOH-IAD in first and business on Etihad and Qatar using AAdvantage miles. It took ten minutes, with an agent who seemed to know a lot about both airlines (including the pronunciation of their names). Compare that with 2 hours I spent on the phone the next day with Delta booking DCA-LAX-BNE-VLI-BNE-SYD-LAX-DCA in business on AS and VA, with 5 calls to the rate desk that still resulted in an incorrectly priced award at 210K. The entire time, both agents referred to VA as Virgin Atlantic. (Of course, the call started with an obligatory Delta agent statement of cluelessness, “You can’t use miles to fly to Vuh–, Vuh–, wherever that is you’re trying to go.” Vanuatu, dear, and yes I can — though I’m sure you think it’s an imaginary country.) The only reason I bother with Delta is the miles I get via a SunTrust debit card for paying my quarterly taxes.

  23. I can give you some insight on this, a VERY good friends of mine is a supervisor for the AAvantage EXP desk. Many of the people from TUS are still there working from home, which most just love. However, AA has hired many new agents, instead of having these new agents working the public first to get the experience they are putting them on the EXP desk… My buddy is SO frustrated with this, many of the new agents have no clue on what is going, he can listen in and monitor the calls and has stepped up and taken over calls because the new agents don’t understand the system (FF rules) also they are inexperienced really with the computer system they are using…

  24. I just downgraded from4 years as CK to exec plat. I found this out when dialing the CK number during IROPS on Monday March 3 where I was sent to the land of voice prompts that is now the exec plat desk. The CK team were awesome. They are based in Raleigh and are so very special. So after 2 encounters w exec desk I am aghast. Seriously – this is the level of service one should expect after 9 yrs exec plat and 75k per year! Also – I got no “sorry to downgrade you letter”. No email. Not even exec plat cards although I flew 150k miles on AA/oneworld in 13. I was turned out of the Admirals Club. I don’t have issue w downgrade – my feelings are hurt that no one was tasked to notify the CKs who are downgrading that .we still like you and love you.and here is a 2 month Admirals a club extension for you trouble!

    Now I feel better after that rant

  25. It’s definitely been a hit or miss for me. I’ll get a competent agent 50% of the time, and wait times always vary form zilch to 1 1/2 hours, which is unbelievable for a top-tier elite line. Back in early 2012, the EXP line was pretty solid, but that has no longer been the case.

  26. Not an EXP, but lifetime PLAT. On the PLAT line I get the impression that more and more I am getting bounced over to the non-elite reps because there are not enough reps serving the PLAT line. However, weather this year has certainly strained the whole system.

  27. Ben-“I was legitimately feeling sick one day, and they gladly waived all change fees without any doctors notes or anything.” I thought that EXP get change fees waived on tickets or is that just on award tickets?

  28. When the Tucson EXP desk was closed the agents could relocate to Dallas or work from home in Tucson. Except work from home agents could only be general agents. To be on the EXP desk one had to be in Dallas.

    Before I became EXP I talked to a few of the former EXP agents – they knew their stuff. Occasionally I get a former Tucson agent who decided to relocate to Dallas.

    I think the EXP desk is still very good but not as good as it used to be. The quality of the agent is very hit or miss.

  29. Another vote for spotty service and too many calls with long wait times. Fewer agents willing to “bend” the rules. But a lot better than US 1k service after the merger. Got a few connections to the foreign call center where, after asking for my frequent flyer number (0023400345) they would repeat 0 – 2 -4 – 5…… uh.

  30. I don’t have status and call AA 10-15 times a month to book award tickets or clients. 9 out of 10 times AA agents are terrific and I consider them the best in the industry status or not.

  31. Been an EXP for 12 years, and I agree the EXP desk is average these days. I have gotten much better service and shorter hold times from the UA 1k desk as of late.

  32. Many reps took a severance pay and left the company after the Tucson office was closed, and the remaining reps that chose to stay in Tucson are not able to work the EXEC PLT desk as it is only in DFW now.

  33. As a former retired Tucson Executive Platinum agent, I can say as a collective group my colleagues were well trained and thoroughly enjoyed their jobs. We cared and took the ownership of our decisions seriously. It was a pleasure to serve you and hope someone with the New American Airlines is reading your comments. In the past what you said DID make a difference, I hope it still does.

  34. Platinum and Gold friends and fellow flyers, I hate to take expectations another notch, but the vaunted Platinum and Gold “desks” AA has us believing exist are merely prioritized lines to the agents that handle everyone, AAdvantage status holders or not. So, Golds’ calls get answered prior to non-status callers, Platinums’ calls before Golds’.

    On topic, I’ve flown AA for many decades and have been EP for 15 years. I miss the EP Desk (yeppers, that is a separate dedicated group) agents at LAX, BDL, TUS… One who was super moved from LAX to TUS with her child, the second move to the Metroplex was too much and the taking “international” calls at home a la Morris Air (with consequent loss of pay and benefits) were too much; she quit. Another at BDL took an early retirement. I truly miss’em.

    There are still some knowledgeable, helpful EP agents, but there are others with no sense of mission, little caring and an abysmal lack of systems knowledge. Very frustrating; I believe AA dropped the ball on this one.

  35. I’m stunned that as a Platinum member with the dedicated elite line number I still have to wait 50 minutes to 1.5 hour! When I was an Air Canada elite member, I never had to wait more than 5 minutes on their dedicated line. To me this feels more like a general public support number.

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