I wrote a little while ago about how a 2 minute schedule change caused problems.
This weeks little problem was a thirty minute schedule change for my JFK to Zurich flight, which caused a 1 minute misconnect from my inbound connection from Phoenix. I really wanted to fly this route as it has AA’s new Business Class seat on the 767-300 which operates the sectors.
Every airline at every airport has minimum connecting times and I missed the required 45 minutes at JFK, Domestic to International, by 1 minute. Of course, American didn’t bother to tell me about this. I just found out when I could no longer access my reservation on their web site. This is fairly typical of AA I have found and as they cancel the rest of your booking, post the misconnect, you are likely to be stranded if you don’t sort it out before you get to the airport. Of course I could have left it, baring major disaster I would have made the connection at JFK, and with no baggage in the hold, there was no risk. But, it is also likely that US would not have issued me boarding passes!
In fact my flight to Zurich had some padding, a 2 hour wait for my connection to London City.
Before calling AA I had a look at options. As this was a BA Tier Point run, accepting the LAX-JFK direct service would have earned only 140 Tier Points as it is a three class service. Often AA staff don’t realise this and book misconnects on to this service in to First, scoring 210 Tier Points. The original routing was LAX-Phoenix-JFK scoring 270 Tier Points with USAirways.
Once I get back to London City I had a race across London to get my connection from Heathrow to Copenhagen, where the journey ends.
So, another option was to have AA rebook me from JFK straight to Heathrow, losing only 40 Tier Points for the lost ZRH-LCY leg, and saving a cab ride, rather than losing 130 Tier points by taking the direct JFK in Business.
‘Let’s call American in the US’ I thought.
62 minutes on hold later I decided this was a bad choice.
It also appears that OneWorld Emeralds no longer get the extra helpful Executive Platinum desk, but rather the ordinary reservations line. That was a nice feature whilst it lasted, but I can understand why it has gone away.
The agent apologised that the delay was due to bad weather in the US – is there ever not bad weather I wondered? Her first offer was indeed the direct LAX-JFK but only in Business as that was the fare I had paid. (Damn a knowledgeable agent!).
I countered with the offer of keeping my USAirways flights and going to direct to Heathrow. She wasn’t having any of booking me on BA and insisted that I pick one of American’s three flights that day. No JFK Concorde Room for me it seems. The AA 6.30pm flight was nearly empty – I am travelling in August, and I plumped for that one. Oh yes, and my favourite seat was open.
2 hours later I was re-ticketed on to the new flights and only 40 Tier Points down – not too shabby in my book.
- Check your AA/US flights often. Very often. Schedule changes seem to be happening all the time and can throw off well planned journeys.
- Be sure what you want before you ask for it. Check schedules and seat charts before you call. American’s US web site lets you see seat maps for future flights outside of making a dummy booking. (The UK one doesn’t allow this but you can switch to the US site by clicking on the Union Flag at the top of the UK home page.)
- See what effect the change makes to your status earning goals. If the lost 40 Tier Points was the difference between BA Gold and Silver I would be mightily unhappy. (What I would be doing in that case would be to get to JFK a day earlier, or leave late afternoon and spend the night in PHX so I could connect properly in JFK. Assuming the agent allows this of course!)