The past few years have been, for lack of a better word, challenging for American Airlines. The program announced their divorce from Alaska Airlines, been outmaneuvered by Delta Airlines, and we all saw where the AA mechanic was arrested for sabotaging the plane. And those are just the headlines from THIS YEAR. Ouch!
THE GOOD AND BAD OF REDEEMING AA MILES
If you’ve attempted to redeem AA miles for an AA flight, I trust you had the most frustrating experience ever as it is virtually impossible to do.
One of the biggest criticisms of the American AAdvantage program has been the inability to redeem AAdvantage miles for American Airlines flights.
However, the bright spot in the program is having the ability to redeem AA miles for partner awards. Although not every partner is searchable online, AA has been doing a good job lately adding those “missing partners awards” to aa.com. This change has made it much easier for the average member to redeem American miles, since they are able to see all the available options with a single search.
TROUBLE ON THE HORIZON?
Earlier this year, I redeemed AA miles for a flight on Qatar Airways. This is one of my favorite ways to redeem AA miles.
A few weeks later, I began reading reports about how people had booked Etihad and Qatar awards using AAdvantage miles but were being charged for checked bags.
This caused a lot of confusion since these awards should have received free checked bags and it would be an American Airlines public relations nightmare as Etihad and Qatar awards are some of Americans most popular partners.
I attempted to re-check my award to see if I had missed some fine print.
Interestingly, with the exception of awards to & from the US or Canada, I was unable to search for any awards as Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways award flights had been removed from the American Airlines website.
THE BAD NEWS
Somewhere in the AA technology algorithm, there has been a glitch where awards booked through aa.com showed no baggage allowance for Etihad and Qatar. Meanwhile, the awards that were booked by phone did not have the same challenge.
Obviously, to the surprise of many people, they showed up at airports ready for their departing flights and were asked to pay for their checked bags.
Imagine, redeeming points for a business class flight and still having to pay for your bags. Yikes!
THE GOOD NEWS
All awards remain bookable as before, but for awards in other regions (e.g. my ticket from Europe to the Middle East) you have to call American Airlines to book.
Hopefully all Etihad and Qatar awards will be back on aa.com soon.
I was proactive and reached out to American Airlines because I don’t enjoy surprises at the airport, particularly if they are financial.
American was able to reissue my ticket and the agent also mentioned that they were working on reissuing tickets that haven’t been flown so that passengers would have the correct baggage allowance.
As for individuals that paid for their checked bags as a result of this glitch, I suggest you contact American and get a refund.
Again, for the time being you’ll have to call American if you want to secure an AAdvantage award ticket on Etihad & Qatar that aren’t for travel to & from the US or Canada.
With the inability to redeem miles on American, and two of their most popular partners (Etihad and Qatar), this is a disaster for American. Hopefully, they are able to sort this out sooner than later.
Were you impacted by the AA glitch? Were you erroneously charged for checked bags on an award ticket?