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Using Award Tickets: things can be flexible at the airport...

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Having enough AAdvantage award miles for Business Class flight to Europe, I planned our August trip to Spain 6 months in advance... AA booked us on an ORD-MAD flight with Iberia (AA does not fly to Madrid from Chicago). Naturally, for our return we wanted to get on the same direct flight, but AA claimed "we don't yet have Iberia's release of BC award seats on the direct MAD-ORD flight but only on their Madrid-Boston flight" which leaves an hour later. AA would then fly us from Boston to Chicago on First.

The direct MAD-ORD would land us in Chicago at 2pm, vs. late evening, had we flown via Boston...

For weeks and months, even the night before our flight, I would call the AAdvantage number, checking whether they can get us on that direct MAD-ORD flight. The response was always the same, Iberia has not yet released BC seats on that flight, but things can change any day, so please call us again....

We gave up, but the next morning we arrived at the airport a bit early by chance (it was a Saturday morning, empty roads)... We found out that Boston was expected to have some storms that afternoon... I also caught a bad cold the night before and didn't sound very healthy... So my spouse decided to take one last chance... We approached the Iberia ticket counter agent, explaining the issue, she heard my coarse voice, spent a few minutes on her computer, sent us to the nearby AA counter where that agent spent another few minutes on the computer, sending us back to Iberia, another few minutes — and Voila! We got our boarding passes for our Chicago-bound flight... By that time we had to rush to the gate, and miss the Duty-Free store. Oh well...

BTW, Business Class was half empty on that flight.

I suspect that what those agents were working on was "cheating" the system to put us on those Iberia's free "unreleased seats," regarding us as paying passengers...

...Something for other award-ticket fliers to learn from. Maybe.

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