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AAdvantage Award Tickets - BEWARE of "hidden" policy

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At the risk of sounding like a spoiled brat...I'm sharing this story with you anyway.

6-7 months before our departure date, I used double American Airlines AAdvantage miles to acquire two Business Class tickets for the 9 hour flight from DFW to LHR (first part of a 2-leg journey...) I wanted to treat our church pastor to the new American Airlines 77W airplane. Another friend joined us and also used double AAdvantage miles for a Business Class seat.

My friend (AAdvantage Gold) and our pastor boarded the plane just ahead of me. As I (AAdvantage Platinum 3-million miler) gave my boarding pass to the gate agent, she stopped me and called for the Supervisor. I was taken off to the side and told that the flight was oversold...she was going to try to find me a seat in Coach. I was polite, but quite upset. I tried to explain how early I'd acquired my ticket, etc., etc....that I was traveling with friends who'd already boarded...etc., etc. In so many words, she exclaimed that it didn't seat was going to a paying customer. I continued to ask how they could give my seat that I'd had for 6-7 months to someone who'd probably just recently purchased their ticket....and it was AA's fault for overselling the plane, not mine. She told me she would refund my miles and give me a $500 voucher. I told her I didn't want my miles nor the voucher...I wanted my seat. She quickly shoved a piece of paper in front of me that supposedly explained how and why I lost my seat. She also put the voucher in front of me and told me to sign it to show that I'd received it. Later I learned that my signature was to assure that I would have no recourse against the airline. This all happened so fast...she was obviously trying to "get rid of the problem."

When I realized I was getting nowhere, I told her I had to get on that plane because of our connection to Zurich and please...I wanted an aisle seat. I was told there weren't any aisle seats...the ENTIRE plane was oversold. She did find me a seat...the dreaded MIDDLE seat! However, 10 minutes after I'd boarded, she came back and moved me to a window seat. The upside is there was no one sitting in the middle seat next to me. However, that proved the plane was NOT oversold.

I understand the airlines are trying to make money, but you don't treat a loyal customer like that. So now, anytime we use our miles for a seat in First or Business...especially for a long-haul flight, we're not guaranteed we'll get that seat or any seat on the chosen flight.

Like I said, I know I sound like a spoiled brat. But, why even offer "ANYTIME AWARD" tickets if you're not going to honor them.

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