How 2 minutes nearly costs me 5 hours, but gets fixed in ‘only’ 45 minutes.

I knocked up this handy flowchart showing the agony I had to go through recently when a two minute schedule change forced AA to rebook me for a flight 4 3/4 hours after landing.

Rebooking Flowchart

Next month I am flying back from Honolulu via New York to London City Airport on a ticket issued by American Airlines via their web site. That’s stage one in the flow chart shown above.

At the weekend I went to check the reservation on – the place AA seems to direct you for almost anything, except for the thing you need to do, these days. When I spoke to the outsourced AA call centre using the UK phone number  I found that my flight from Phoenix had been re-timed to land at 17:01 from its previous 16:59 landing time – a 2 minute change. (Stage two)

My connection leaves from Terminal 7 at JFK and I arrive at Terminal 8 and a strict 2 hours is needed to do the transfer, and so AA had simply cancelled my segment from JFK to London City which leaves at 19:00, for the sake of one minute. (The reality is that the most you need to do the transfer is 30 minutes in my view, assuming you arrive at the furthest gate on the remote terminal at T8, walk slowly and then hit a queue at security at Terminal 8, with no bags checked-in of course.)

This is a really annoying habit of AA – if there is a misconnect in a booking they simply cancel subsequent segments and leave you in limbo without a booking, and of course not telling you about your problem.

The agent (stage three) explained that the only options were (a) take a direct flight from Phoenix (have you heard about Tier Points?) or (b) take the 21:45 departure from JFK to City. My connection to Dublin was safe, to I chose option (b).

I did also ask if I could rebook the segments from Honolulu but he explained as the schedule had not changed for these he could not do that.

So, a little pondering and I thought I might get someone more helpful in the US and so called AA  – stage 4. Seems that AA thinks that BA Gold should get the Executive Platinum desk, where a very helpful lady explained that she would put me through to USAirways as they had two computer systems still and so she could not fix it. Regardless of whose ticket it was, US made the change, US had to fix it. I explained in vain that I knew exactly what US would say. ‘No’ she said, ‘be firm, they caused the mess they have to fix it’.

Stage 5  – ‘I am sorry sir but this is an American Airlines ticket so I cannot touch it’ said the USAirways agent. Who would have guessed? Can you put me back to AA please?

Stage 6  – Long story explained to the poor agent, and then I asked if I could be rebooked via LAX to JFK and after a moment or two the new AA agent had it sorted so I can fly now from HNL to LA overnight, and then on to JFK, connecting with my original flight to London City.

So, as the headline says, a two minute schedule change almost made me have to spend 4 hrs 45 mins at JFK, but 45 minutes on the phone got it fixed.

Oh yes, and remember US and AA are one airline now, just with two separate systems, two separate sets of agents and it appears two minds.