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Greetings, fellow Insiders! I'd love to be sharing photos and stories with you of my most recent European adventure, this time, a maiden visit to the Emerald Isle, however the odyssey is not quite complete, as I sit here in the SAN airport, waiting for my last segment of the journey home from a most memorable visit to the land of my ancestors.
First and as a side note, since the blogs are now more buried than ever, I wanted to create this post as a discussion, so that it would garner more 'Air Play.' Alas, with the new forum, timeouts occur so fast when creating discussions and/or longer replies, that if you're not quick enough, your entire post can go poof when you hit the submit button, only then realizing that you have timed out. Just one more flaw in a stack of them in this newer, yet ever as clunky version of Insiders. At least with the blogs, there is (still) a 'save draft' button that you can periodically hit, to save work and thus, prevent the time out and complete loss of work. And so, I find myself forced to create yet another blog post (as opposed to discussion), which will rapidly become buried, alas.
Pardon me, while I hit the 'save draft' button.
Now, if you've made it thus far (after reading the paragraph above, which relates to nothing in the title of this blog post), you're still wondering about this €1958 change fee. I'll start from the beginning of an unfortunate last day in (otherwise magical) Ireland. On the last day of our Irish journey, driving in the left lane of a fully striped two lane Irish roundabout (with my right turn indicator on, the proper way to indicate to other drivers my intent to remain in the roundabout to a subsequent exit), I was heartily plowed into by an Irish driver who was apparently attempting a lane change from the inside lane of the roundabout. The driver side of the car was damaged (left side driving in Ireland), driver door would not latch shut, electric locks and driver window control broken. 75 year old Irish driver appeared to have been distracted by his very cute, but unfortunately ill, and unrestrained little dog, having just left the Vet's office. The Garda was dispatched and took a report. No one was hurt (including the dog). I was thankful that we decided to purchase full coverage insurance (€360 extra) from Hertz at the time of rental. The accident, upsetting and stress inducing by it's nature, unfortunately set off a chain of events that caused us to become well behind schedule on the day of departure, and so I instructed my step-Mom and Aunt that I would drop them and their luggage off at the terminal, while I returned the car to Hertz. I gave them contingent instructions to board the flight without me, explaining that if I missed it, I would re-book onto the next flight out of Dublin, subsequently catching the next AA nonstop out of Heathrow to LA (there are 2/day, just 3 hours apart), placing me in LA just 3 hours behind them. They were to drive home from LAX, and I would catch the Flyaway bus to Union Station, and then catch the next Amtrak Surfliner down to Oceanside. My Alaska flight home was the next day (today) and booked separately. This is in fact how it turned out, me missing our flight by mere minutes.
In Dublin, after dropping off the rental car and completing the paperwork, I caught the Hertz shuttle to the terminal, and arrived at the ticket counter, 15 minutes before push back (with no baggage - it went with the ladies, as part of the plan to streamline my process) , where I was informed that my flight was closed and I would have to be re-booked. After dickering on the phone for 45 minutes, the British Airways agent informed me that I would have to walk to the other terminal and re-book with AA, since the original booking was with AA. And so I did, only to have the AA agent tell me that I had to go back to the first terminal and re-book with BA. My feet firmly planted, I informed the AA agent that BA sent me to them, as the original reservation was booked through AA. After another 45 minutes, they were able to sort out a new flight for me, connecting in Heathrow and catching the subsequent AA nonstop to LA, just as I had anticipated. Without batting an eye, they informed me that the change fee would be an astonishing €1958/$2210 (cost of new one way ticket appx. $2100, minus credit from original ticket, plus the $250 change fee.) I called AA reservations myself, to see if they could do better, but - no. In shock, and not wanting to have to take up permanent residence in the Dublin International Airport, I gave them my credit card (what other option did I have?) They gave me my boarding passes, and off I went, in a daze. At the gate, I asked the agent if I could at least be placed in business class, due to the price), and was kindly declined (it never hurts to ask). Additionally, when re-booked, I wasn't put into premium economy (as I was booked in the original flight), so rectified that as well. Also, because of my AS MVP Gold status, I should have been entitled to two free checked bags for everyone in my party, yet those bumbling BA ticket agents made my Mom and Aunt pay for the second checked bag. Grrr. Was it because I, as the 'elite' flyer was now not a part of that flight?
Anyway, here I sit, home now, still asking myself how this happened. Fortunately, on the long haul flight home, I somehow managed (luck 'o the Irish, ha!) to have a row to myself (there were a number of empty seats on the plane), and with the lights being turned off for sleep and/or movie watching, I at least managed to have myself a 'grand', long cry. At the Alaska ticket counter in SAN, I mentioned my sad story to an AS agent. She was surprised as well, and kindly informed me that she had a friend who is a "trainer" at AA, and gave me her email and asked me to send her all the pertinent details, to see if something could be done. Wow, now that's remarkable customer service. Go Alaska! While it remains to be seen if anything good might come of it, it was a very solid customer service gesture on the part of AS ticket agent Diana, nonetheless.
My Mom paid for this trip as a gift to me and my Aunt. I didn't have the heart to tell her about the €1958/$2210 re-booking fee. It would have really put a wet blanket on an otherwise charming, once-in-a-lifetime trip for her. It has definitely put a wet blanket on the trip for me... And after all that Irish blue sky and sunshine! I digress... Another kind MR Insider also suggested that I contact my credit card company to see if this circumstance might be covered. I'll do that. We also had trip insurance, but it doesn't cover this. In hindsight, I probably should've considering ditching the reservation all together and looked into flying with another airline. As I sit here, I just looked up a same day flight purchase on Aer Lingus, which would've set me back only €675. Being quite rattled over the accident and most concerned about my travel inexperienced and aged Mom and Aunt, it didn't occur to me at the time. Of course, it also never occurred to me (in a million years) that AA would do something like this to their customers.
€360 car hire insurance... $2000 change fees... Having to contact MR customer service regarding missing nights and points... Clunky, hard to use travel forums... Travel is supposed to be fun! Enlightening. Regenerating and revitalizing. I am depressed, frankly. This too shall pass. Just not today.
Curious, has this ever happened to anyone else?
Below is a copy of the letter that I sent to American Airlines:
Below is their response:
I'm not certain, but I believe the assessed change fee was $300. Naturally, I am disappointed, however grateful for the small goodwill gesture.