American Admirals Club AAngels Still Exist

I think there’s no denying that over the past few years the quality of service at US airlines has declined even further (if that’s even possible). Having gone from six legacy airlines down to just three, there’s not really that much of an incentive for them to differentiate on service, given that business travelers will for the most part choose the airline with the route network most convenient for them.

One of the biggest perks of having lounge access isn’t the unlimited pretzels and soft drinks, but rather the better service you get in the case of irregular operations. The agents there are typically more competent and friendlier than what you’d get in the terminal, and there’s not as long of a queue.

Going back several years Admirals Club agents were spectacular, and often referred to as “angels.” They’d be able to do things that other agents couldn’t — sometimes they’d even make some calls to get upgrades cleared.

I haven’t really found that to be the case lately. I’m not sure if that’s because I just haven’t had many operational issues so haven’t needed their help, but in general I just haven’t found them as “over the top” friendly.

Today I had my first experience in a while where I was reminded of how awesome some Admirals Club agents are, and how valuable a club membership can be.

I was booked from Newark to Dallas to Las Vegas, and my flight from Newark to Dallas was scheduled to boarding at 12:30PM.

American-MD80

At exactly 12:30PM the gate agent announced that the flight would be delayed until at least 2:40PM, as a flight attendant called in sick so they were waiting on a reserve (as it turned out the delay lasted even longer than that).

American-Airlines-Delay

A massive queue quickly formed at the gate, though I ran for the Admirals Club.

I gave the guy at the desk my boarding pass, and within a minute of looking at my reservation he found me an alternative through Chicago. Now that in and of itself isn’t impressive. What impressed me most were the other things he looked at.

“If I rebook you on this, for your Newark to Chicago flight there’s no one else on the upgrade list so you should clear. I can call the gate and see if they’ll let me confirm you in first class. Then from Chicago to Las Vegas you’d be on the top of the upgrade waitlist with two seats remaining, and I can snag you a good aisle seat in Main Cabin Extra for now.”

I agreed, and he sent me on my way, and said “thanks for your loyalty, Mr. Schlappig.”

I know it sounds minor, but it really means a lot. I’m used to being told what I can be rebooked on, but then feeling like I’m massively inconveniencing the agent when I ask about “particulars,” like upgrades, available seats, etc.

For example, the new routing would get me in an hour earlier, but if it meant two flights in middle seats in economy I’d rather stick to the (way) delayed routing I had.

The fact that he proactively took care of that really impressed me. Back in the day it might not have impressed me as much, but based on my recent experiences – both with Admirals Club agents and agents at the Executive Platinum desk – this guy was awesome and made my travel day.

While I do share my fair share of negative stories, I like sharing positive ones even more.

Thanks to those of you that work hard to make the travel experience better for all of us!

Comments

  1. Glad to hear that such levels of service can still exist stateside. This is the stuff I expect out of CX in HKG, but would be pleasantly surprised to find in the States.

  2. I love hearing stories like these. I work for AA and you can be sure we’ll pass this along to the right folks so this gentleman is appropriately recognized. Thank you for taking the time to share!

  3. Please send an AAplause cert and/or a brief letter to AA – let’s make sure the good employees are rewarded!

  4. I guess you have to be lucky 🙂 During our summer vacation my family of 4 had a MSP-SLC-HNL Delta flight in Economy Comfort. We made it to SLC on time and boarded the SLC-HNL flight to then learn the flight would be delayed because of a part that needed to be changed in the cockpit. The 20 minute delay turned into almost 1 hour delay until they announced they did not have the part that needed to be replaced and had 2 alternatives: 1) try to “build” the part and that would take around 4 hours or 2) fly the part from Atlanta and that would delay the flight by 7 hours. They then decided to deplane everyone. You can imagine how crazy the gate area was but at that time I had looked on my phone that we could get a SLC-LAX-HNL or a SLC-SEA-HNL flights that would put us in HNL at a decent time on the same day. I was concerned our flight would be cancelled and we would miss the first day of our vacation in Hawaii. I asked the first agent at the gate and she was rude and said both alternatives I gave her were sold out. I then approached another agent that was typing in his computer and politely asked him to check availability since I had checked on my phone and the app was showing seats available. Long story short, he put my entire family in first class from SLC-SEA-HNL, printed our boarding passes and told us to “fly” to the gate since the plane was about to close doors. In sum, if you find someone willing to help they will find a way to make your life easier.

  5. i rarely need the assistance of the agents at the admiral’s club but there was an incident a few months ago that left a sour taste in my mouth. for some reason my boarding pass neglected to show my FF number (since then I just download my BPs to passbook on my iphone) and i approached the agent to ask if he could ensure it was properly appended to my itinerary. he just gave me a blank look and said, “if i touch the keyboard, then a change fee applies.” i was pretty flabbergasted. good to hear there are still some diligent employees out there.

  6. The AAngels in the Austin Admirals Club are the best in the system. Hands down. No questions ask. Usually when I walk into the club, they already are signing me in and checking on my reservation. A couple times they have called my cell phone two hours before a flight to let me know of issues they noticed on my upcoming flights for the day and offer to rebook me before I even get to the airport.

  7. Lucky – Nice of you to post this and I do understand when you say this really means a lot.

    I commend Chris for offering to make sure the gentlemen is recognized for his excellent service, but agree with Miles that you should also send a note to AA (it can’t hurt).

    @Pavel – “if I touch the keyboard” – perhaps they should have touched the phone and told their supervisor how rude they were to you.

  8. I had a great experience at Toronto yesterday. Was booked BA LHR-YYZ cash, AA YYZ-ORD on Avios but with my AA PLT number in both. I had a 4 hour layover to an ER4 thanks to a schedule change, the shorter option to a 175 was too far under minimum connecting time. I schlep my way through two sets of immigration and rechecking my large duffel bag and to the Admirals Club, and ask if my flight was delayed because the 175 was showing a short delay.

    When she asked me if she could put me on the earlier flight as that inbound hadn’t arrived yet (even though i was on an award), I mentioned that I had a bag checked, and she called the bag room and got it moved. Then she got me an aisle, but wasn’t happy because it wasn’t MCE. So she gave me a drink chit and told me to relax until the inbound plane landed and to stop back and see her on my way to the gate.

    Sure enough, the upgrades had cleared, and I now had an MCE aisle with an empty window seat. Two extra hours of sleep, and 75 minutes on an ERJ-175 instead of a cramped ER4…

  9. The AAngels in the DCA Admirals club earned their name last week — they worked magic after my initial US flight was briefly delayed and managed to get me on AA to LHR (via ORD) and even got my SWU to clear (which I hadn’t been able to apply on the original routing because it was US). They spent 30 minutes on the phone, even explaining to the rate desk how to make the routing stick in the system. It’s my home club, and I’m sure that helped, but times like that are when membership pays.

  10. Last Thanksgiving, I was flying LGA-IAD on DL. I couldn’t get out of work on Weds, and had to fly the morning of the holiday. My whole family was waiting for me at my sister’s house in VA, about 75 miles from IAD. Weather was good, but something delayed the flight. And they kept pushing it back and pushing it back. After the third delay, the agent in the Term D SkyClub asked if I could go/wanted to go to RIC instead – the flight was almost boarded and she could get me on it. It’s about the same distance from my sister’s, just the other direction so I said sure. She even confirmed the upgrade and called the gate to let them know I was on my way. She was my hero that day for sure.

  11. AAngels from the SFO T2 Admirals Club. Oh God they are amazing. Went above and beyond for me many times.

    I would marry them if they weren’t all married.

    I’m so pissed I got rid of my Citi Executive card in favor of the Amex Plat only to have them get rid of the lounge access for me. Ugh.

  12. This doesn’t sound minor to me at all Ben!

    Last week I was at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and I arrived at the Club about 20 minutes after breakfast ended. I had begun my journey at 5:30am on Oahu that morning (before breakfast opened at my Oahu Hyatt) and grabbed something quickly at Starbucks in the airport. By the time I made it to the hotel I was HUNGRY. I relayed my sad story to the lady putting up dishes in the lounge (who wasn’t too moved), but another lady Samantha popped her head out and said, “I have yogurt if you want some. I also just put away the cereal, but its just in that cabinet.” I had a couple of boxes of Cheerios and a cup of coffee, but I can’t tell you how awesome I felt about that experience! I felt like she cared about ME and appreciated that I was there. That was a WOW customer service experience. I have been sharing it with anyone who will listen. Like you said last week…Hospitality Happens at the Margins.

  13. Are the admirals club aangels that I’ve heard of the folks manning the admirals club counter? I haven’t encountered an operational issue yet in many of my flights *knock on wood*, and it’s not something I have experience myself. When I visit Admiral Club, they usually either “check” me into the club (take a look at my boarding pass) with light pleasantries, and then welcome me into the club. It didn’t seem like they were checking my flight details against their system or anything of that sort. It doesn’t bother me, but your post got me curious if the admiral club aangels are one and the same as the front desk club agent.

  14. Not a club story, but this reminds me of a United check-in agent at ABQ last year. I was doing a same-day change and even though he was a fairly young guy his questions and thought process clearly showed that he knew and understood all the little things that are important to frequent flyers in choosing flights and seats. Even though it was a year ago and it was only 1 interaction, I still remember his name: Andrew B (not the “Andrew B” who is a One Mile at a Time correspondent!)

    When I heard earlier this year that UA was going to outsource their ABQ operations, I thought of him and was sad.

  15. DCA Admirals team is AWESOME!! Also, some AA check in folks are great too. I took my mom to the airport yesterday and while helping her doing the check in, Alex from AA was super friendly, engaging and energetic. Not only that (which sometimes is rare to find today) he proactively offered to print me a gate pass so I could go through security with my mom (she is 77). Those little thinks make a HUGE difference.

  16. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this letter. I received this on the same day it was sent. It was my pleasure helping you get to Las Vegas. Next time I’ll see you in the air. I will be heading to Dallas for Flight Attendant training in just a few weeks. See you again!

    Preston

  17. AAngels are found at the SFO Admirals Club. In the last seven years of my frequent flying, this team has made sure I get where I am going. I even had one of them call me when she saw my flight was being delayed and that I might miss my International connection. I trust them more than the Exec Plat desk and they’re part of the reason why I stay with American, despite their limited service out of SFO. I use my AAplause certificates regularly to American Employees who take care of me. It may not be much, but it’s something they can show to their managers.

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