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Author Topic: A Tough Transition To AA
Life_Platinum
Post Captain
Member # 630

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I've just completed my last flights of 2001, and have reflected upon my last 5 flights on AA/TWA. These were my signature route from NYC to ORD and then JFK-CDG Round trip. Here's what I found.
1. NYC-ORD on Dec 5, returning on Dec 7.
Fare-I used a B fare TWA ticket that I still had from the end of September, and asked that AA book me thru STL. No trouble doing it on the way out, but it was not possible on the way back, as there were no convenient flights. This B fare ticket (about $1500) was for the front cabin on TWA but AA said they had a different B fare ticket and the TWA ticket would not automatically get me up front. The agent suggested I talk to the agent when I boarded and see if they would put me up front. When I checked in at the Admirals Club, I told the agent this story, and she said she was too busy to check and put me into 3A on the TWA 757. However she said that when I went to the Admirals Club at STL, I would need to talk to the agent as well. At STL, I was serviced by an old friend who I had known from LAX and DCA. All agents had a AA agent over their shoulder, and this agent led the former TWA agent thru the required key strokes to get me upgraded.
On the return, I found another story. I asked at the First Class Checkin, and was told that the people in the Club have more power and I should ask them. When I asked in the Club, I was told they couldn't do it, but I should ask at the gate. At the gate, I was told they couldn't do it, and I needed to ask someone (unknown) else. Hence, I ended up in the back of the bus.
Service-The LGA-STL-ORD flight was handled by former TWA personnel, still in their TWA uniforms and it was the same outstanding service that I had come to expect. Both flights were on time. The return flight flown by AA personnel from ORD to LGA was about 15 minutes late. I was troubled prior to takeoff when I saw many window shades down, and bleeped the FA. I was told it was safe to keep the window shades down and I should not worry.
Safety Check-Well at LGA it was the most strigent I ever had, and like Donuway, on a search of all my things, they found a small pocket knife in my carry on bag (I then remembered having a vendor give me the knife in Philly a few weeks earlier)

The JFK-CDG flight was interesting on Dec 7, returning on Dec 24.
Ticket-I was traveling on one of those old Equity awards, and when I checked to see which seat I was in about 3 weeks before the flight, I was told I was in Business. I told the agent I had a first class award, and she said that TWA needed to tell them it was a first class award. I called TWA back, and the TWA agent agreed, telling me that 90,000 miles was a First Class Award, 85,000 was a business award, and 60, 000 was a coach award. She said she would call AA and straighten it out, and would call me back with the results. She called me back the next day and told me that AA refused to put us in First, and she had kicked it up to a higher level and would let us know. The next day she called back and said that someone upstairs at AA also said that for 90,000 miles, how can we expect to sit in front. She was not optomistic that AA would seat us in First, but she would keep trying, as she told AA that the code for this award has a first Class and not a business class code associated with it. She suggested I call AA. When I did, the supervisor was busy, but said she would call me after investigating. She did call, but I was unavailable, and when I finally got to her she agreed to put us in First. Well I thought this was the end of it, but every time we check in, we were challenged, and had to see a supervisor at both JFK and CDG. Based on all the information in our record they gave us first class seats.
The flights-Both were on 777s, and my wife and I were really impressed with the new configuration with 1 seat at each window, and 2 seats in the center. These seats have full recline and my wife commented they could effectively be used as an office, as they were so well designed with all the latest electronic gizmos. Service was excellent, and Bob,the purser provided the level of service we got to expect at TWA. The flight departed and arrived on time, although the security lines stretched the entire length of the AA terminal, and after about 45 minutes in line, they had to take all CDG people to the head of the line.

On return, the flight took off 4 hours 2o minutes late, and it took more than 1 hour to load the luggage after we all were bussed out to the plane. The Captain was very personable in that he came out and greeted all of us who were riding up front during the hour while we were on board and the baggage was being loaded. The 777 configuration of the cabin was an older modification, but far better than TWA ever had because of the seats which featured full reclining. My wife and I judged service not as good as what we had found on TWA, although the flight crew was friendly. Food on both flights was not as good as we knew it on TWA. Upon arriving at JFK, passengers complained about waiting 45 minutes for their luggage, and were told that AA would check into it. Passengers were told there was a technical difficulty, which passengers thought meant that AA forgot to assign anyone to removing the luggage until passengers began to complain.
Security at CDG. We did not find security at CDG strigent,even though just 2 days previously AA had the well known incident. We went thru the usual security while checking in, and we not stopped or checked at any other location, although some other passengers had further checks.

All in all, we enjoyed our flights, and toasted the TWA folk who had looked after us all these years.


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JFK Fleet Service
Post Captain
Member # 822

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quote:
Originally posted by Life_Platinum:

Upon arriving at JFK, passengers complained about waiting 45 minutes for their luggage, and were told that AA would check into it. Passengers were told there was a technical difficulty, which passengers thought meant that AA forgot to assign anyone to removing the luggage until passengers began to complain.


"Technical Dificulty"? That's rich!

I'll give you the translation for that bit of AA speak

It means "We laid off too many people and that arrival will have to sit until we can get an available crew to service the aircraft."

Sorry about the delay in bag times,but the staffing levels are insufficent for the task at hand.


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Jeff Isenberg
Post Captain
Member # 421

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LP -

Thanks very much for tje detailed account of your experiences in our new AA world of flying. This is also a heads up for me to begin the process now of ensuring my equity miles will secure me the two FC seats promised by TWA. I am booked in the spring (JFK-CDG) on a 777 both ways having made the reservation at the end of last June. I received notice a couple months ago that the flight will be an AA rather than TWA flight but there was no mention of seat assignments or class of service. So .... I guess I had best lay the groundwork lest we get put in business class.

Thanks again, LP. Hope all is well with you and your family.

Jeff I.


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Life_Platinum
Post Captain
Member # 630

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Jeff, I'll send you an detailed email about the resistance I received from AAdvantage people and the help the TWA Concierge people gave me in using my Equity Award for First Class travel. Seems to me that nyc6035 also few in First using a Equity Award this summer when he visited the Paris Air Show. Perhaps he can provide some guidance as well.
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nyc6035
Post Captain
Member # 423

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LP,

Yes I did fly on AA over to Paris this summer. I actually used an AA award (200K for two F tickets). I actually came to the FFB program after the Equity Program had ended (I joined in May 1990) so I didn't have the opportunity to use the better award schedule.

I went and had TWA miles moved over to AA to claim the award back in June. My thinking at the time was that I would be maximizing the number of AA miles I had toward their Lifetime Status levels - since they chose not to honor the TWA Lifetime Platinum level and I wasn't sure AA was going to live up to the commitment on the conversion of program to date miles. It turns out I probably hurt myself in the process since it appears there was some kind of bug in the TWA miles to date bucket counter that apparantly lowered the miles to date counter anytime you claimed an award using Aviators miles. It appears the early movement of TWA miles to AA also acted this way. To date I've had not a single program to date mile added to my AA account (other thnan unused TWA miles) even though I claimed 940K in TWA tickets over the years...I'm working on a letter now.

Jeff, I think you'd better get cracking on working for the F class seats. C on AA is nothing great it my view. Lots of pitch, but seat recline that doesn't make good use of it, and little more than a coach plus meal service...TW1 it's not.

Mike


Posts: 281 | From: Chappaqua, NY  |  IP: Logged
Life_Platinum
Post Captain
Member # 630

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Mike, I've noticed that my wife's as well as my AAdvantage account has been updated and it appears that I have been given credit for the miles we have used. Seems to me you should have been given the same treatment. It may be an AA glitch or that AA has hired one person to do this and that person is going thru each account prior to the merge.

One thing I did not get credit in the AAdvantage account toward next year's status were the TWA miles I flew this year. All I got were the measly 15K miles I got for flying AA. However, this does not matter, as AA is continuing us at the current status, me of EXP and my wife of EP. The only upgrades we got were for reaching the first 1M miles and not for any additional multiples of the first million. I don't yet know what the significance of this is.


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donuway
Post Captain
Member # 803

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quote:
Originally posted by JFK Fleet Service:


"Technical Dificulty"? That's rich!

I'll give you the translation for that bit of AA speak

It means "We laid off too many people and that arrival will have to sit until we can get an available crew to service the aircraft."

Sorry about the delay in bag times,but the staffing levels are insufficent for the task at hand.


I wonder if anyone will know if there are problems in STL similiar to this?

As I have been under the weather and only going into the office for a few hours a day, I got the rare experience of seeing part of the midday news from a local TV station. It seems that lots of people who had arrived the requested 2 hours early had been missing flights. During this news segment, I never heard AA mentioned, although when they were interviewing a young woman who was trying to get to NYC, the AMERICAN signs were prominent in the background. It was brought out that security check was flowing fine, it was just checking baggage that was the problem. Did they cancel curbside baggage checks in STL again? I thought they were operational last time I went through?

They also commented that this year Lambert would handle about 1 million passengers during the 5 day Holiday period, vs 1.2 million last year. If I remember correctly TWA was praised for moving so many people through STL so smoothly last year during the holidays. But if there was a rough day at Lambert, you could usually count on our local news to find the most ticked off passenger TWA had, and make a big story out of it. I guess they are taking it easy on AA their first year in business, (running STL that is)

Don


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Jeff Isenberg
Post Captain
Member # 421

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LP, Mike -

I have been given credit for all accrued mileage on TWA and, like LP, received the extra upgrades for the first million miles. To date, though, I haven't received any specific word on lifetime status. Presumably that will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

Also, I don't know if anyone has heard any news about possible changes in AA's handling of lifetime Ambassadors Club memberships. As I recall, someone on this board (or maybe it was PB) mentioned that in the aftermath of 9/11, AA was going to scrutinize those TWA frequent fliers (i.e., lifetime AC members) who travel a fair amount on business fares and perhaps give them, if not lifetime Admirals Club memberships, at least some enhanced status. I haven't heard anything about this for a while, though.

Don -

I think you are right on the money about TWA being praised for their handling of holiday traffic last year. Little did we know that only a couple weeks after Christmas 2000 we would hear the news of the beginning of the end of our beloved TWA. What a different world we now inhabit and, unfortunately, not for the better ....

Jeff I.


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upgrade lover
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Life_Platinum and Jeff I

Hi. I received my to date TW miles last week in my AA account however I have not received any upgrades. I had over 2.5 million miles posted. Did the upgrades post at the same time as the miles or was it after? How many upgrades did you receive? I will have to call AA about this. Thanks in advance for your help.

John


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pomonastudent
Post Captain
Member # 140

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Went down to St. Croix and back on TW/AA through SJU, and sat in Y for the first time in years, while looking at the nearly empty F cabin through the now-always open cabin. Service was very good both ways, and MRTC does make a bit of a difference, albeit minor when stuck on a 4 hour flight in the middle seat. The way back was much better, as I managed to snag row 10, the first exit row in coach with about 5 feet of legroom.

The bag lunches were in place both directions, though the sandwiches were not hot- meatball one way, and ham and cheese the other- a definite improvement over the soggy turkey sandwiches that I remember from years past.

AA has a large operation in SJU, and a decent Admirals Club. The Eagle operation, at least on the ground, to the smaller islands is an absolute joke. A hot, damp and crowded waiting room with passengers milling around all over the place. Tons of delays and indifferent agents...no wonder people in the Carribbean were so happy to have TW as an alternative.


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Life_Platinum
Post Captain
Member # 630

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NYC6035 and Upgrade Lover: I reviewed my wife's and my AAdvantage accounts to try to answer your questions about AA practices. Both my wife and I have been given 8 upgrades. However my wife has not reached 2M total points that have been accumulated, and I am well beyond that mark. Interesting that the date of transfer was listed as 12/11 in my account and 12/25 in my wife's account. I called the AAdvantage desk about this yesterday and was told that TWA flyers are being rewarded with 8 upgrades only when they reach the 1M mark.
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nyc6035
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LP,

Perhaps I can clear up what sounds like some confusion as to what you should be/should have been received from AA, based upon what I believe your circumstance is:

In June or so this past year you should have received 8 VIPOWs when they made you EXP.

When you crossed over the 1MM PTD AA miles threshold you should receive an electronic deposit of 8 - 500 miles upgrade awards. If you call the EXP desk (and find someone who know the policy) they will convert these into 4 VIPOWRs. This is a great deal and one you should take them up on. You'll also be Lifetime Gold in AAs program.

When you cross the 2MM threshold, they're supposed to send you as I understand it 4 VIPOWs. You'll also be Lifetime Platinum in AAs program.

The mailing of the VIPOWs and the letter regarding lifetime status usually seems to take about 4-6 weeks after the million accumulator rolls.

I'm not sure I'd go by what a rep on the phone said, re: the 2MM mark. I'd wait 6 weeks & then start the complaint process. If you rolled however from less than 1MM straight past 2MM, I think you'll be having some interesting conversations in making them understand that they 'owe' you for both levels.

Hope this helps.

Mike


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Jeff Isenberg
Post Captain
Member # 421

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John -

I noticed my 8 upgrades about a week after my account had added my total accrued TWA miles (i.e., program-miles-to-date). So .... be patient. I think they should be forthcoming.

Jeff I.


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Life_Platinum
Post Captain
Member # 630

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NYC6035-I've followed your advice and tried to convert those 8 certificates that AA put into my account into VIPOWRs but the agent did not know if this was possible. She then talked with supervisor who appeared to think this was not possible. They suggested I try to find out more info from you on how this was done. These people were at RDU-did you happen to get AAdvantage people at another site? Any other suggestions?

Incidently, I was told that I am Life Platinum in the AAdvantage program because I have surpassed 2M points.

One last question-How does a VIPOW certificate differ from a VIPOWR certificate?


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nyc6035
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LP,

I actually did it using their customer service on-line request tool they tested a few months back where you could have an interactive session with a rep. via a 'chat' type session. It was kinda goofy because the rep didn't know and she wound up calling the EXP desk to get it done...all the while keeping the 'chat' window open.

I see they've ended that test...so I guess they realized it was a time waster.

Anyhow, I'm going to take a guess here and say that the most knowledgable reps are not on duty today and may not be until Monday the 7th. I'd suggest calling back then during prime business hours...or try email...I get the sense they don't like putting the wrong answer in writing so I'm a little more condifent they'll get it right if you request it via email. Again, I'd wait until the 7th so that an experienced person is more likely to get the request.

The trick of course is not to 'spend' those upgrades before they address the request.

I'll look at home over the weekend to see if the VIPOWRs came with a letter which might support your request. I'll let you know if I come up with anything.

If I emailed you my AAdvantage number (so they could look up my request from June) do you think that would help?

A VIPOWR is essentially a VIPOW except that it is issued on Award Certificate stock. I believe this makes it a little harder to transfer to another traveller, but other than that it's the same - a OW system wide one class upgrade.


Have a Happy New Year!

Mike


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nyc6035
Post Captain
Member # 423

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LP,

You may want to take a look at this thread over at Flyertalk. It looks like GregL (who I believe hails back from the Yahoo board days) is having the same problem. It sounds like he may have gotten some traction on resolution.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/Forum71/HTML/007146.html


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Jeff Isenberg
Post Captain
Member # 421

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Mike -

GregL was indeed a Yahoo alumnus who, as I recall, began flying AA some even before the takeover (I believe when AA added STL-LAX and STL-LGA flights).

Of course, Greg and I didn't see eye-to-eye on some things (he was content with TWA's one-hub strategy) but I nevertheless wish him well. Also, I think he and Rob Wyman once sat together on a flight. (Which reminds me ..... you and I never did hook up on a JFK-SFO flight that you for so long used as your weekly commuter plane. I really wanted did want to see how much alcohol we could consume on a transcon in order to test out ss278's hangover remedy.)

Jeff I.
Jeff I.


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Life_Platinum
Post Captain
Member # 630

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nyc6035-Thanks for your advice about changing the 8 upgrade certificates for 4 VIPOWRs. I waited for a couple of weeks and spoke to one of the DFW people who did not know about this exchange. However, she did recognize the fax number to which I faxed my request and she called them. Supposedly it is a special customer service desk that handles VIPOWS and VIPOWRS. Because I am an EP, she was able to make the trade for me and I should soon be receiving my certificates. However because my wife is "only a platinum with 1.8M points accumulated", they could not make the change for her.

I also have additional concerns about our remaining TWA friends who are holding down the fort in STL. As more and more of the loyal TWA flyers leave the AA fold because of the major differences between the two programs, the amount of passengers flying thru STL will decrease. This then will result in additional flights being cut, and additional employees being furloughed. As I read many of the messages on some of the other boards about what high mileage TWA flyers are doing, I see many taking their business to other airlines. As you know my first response to not being able to fly TWA has been staying home and enjoying NYC rather than flying. For me I've so far cut 4 trips from what I would be flying on TWA, and my wife has cut 3. Sitting in the back of a fairly full plane is no fun, and less fun when the front is wide open!!!!


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robw
Fourm Captain
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I am still hoping to go through STL on connecting flights. As AA is not all that huge out here, I still have to connect through DFW or ORD, so it might as well be STL.

I have been flying AA up and down the state, but otherwise, the only ticket I have purchased so far this year was not even a purchase, but a free ticket on Aer Lingus. I usually like to buy coach and upgrade, but this is not allowed with AA's one world system. The only way up front was to use miles for a free ticket. Even though it is an AA flight number I am purchasing, if my "rear is not on a silver plane" (resevation agent quote...she was actually OK)AA's rules do not apply. Upgrades and free tickets are different with each airline, and though I may be on the phone with AA, they are sinply calling the other airline and to book me on their flight. Does the star alliance work like that?

It seems the only truly integrated systems are NWA and KLM. They always seem to be the carriers who can do for me what the others can't or won't.

I have to get my 1M with AA but after tht, I cannot say. If NWA would give me a paltinum type card, I might dump AA sooner. Like LP, I have gotten used to the front, or at least a familiar face and a decent coach seat.

Rob


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pomonastudent
Post Captain
Member # 140

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Flew STL-SNA last night, a route that I'd done dozens of times in F on TW, but was in Y on "AA"- my 5th segment since Dec 2 in Y, and it sure is a big difference. Yesterday's flight was the first where the F cabin was more than half full. If you can get an exit row, especially row 10 ABC on the 757s, it's not too bad...the in-flight service, however limited it may be these days, has been helped by extremely friendly and professional FA's. I'll continue to fly AA because of the nonstops out of STL, otherwise I'd be off to CO (Gold Elite there) or NW in a hurry. But, I can't justify connecting in IAH or MSP for a short weekend trip to CA.
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