I am a jerk face. It was my fault entirely. I have no excuses. I had initially written down my press trip dates, in big red Sharpie, as being from July 16-19, a short trip to Jamaica for a “bloggers meet up.” If only the trip started on the 16th and not the 15th!.
A usual itinerary to Jamaica, for me, starts with an overnight flight from L.A. to the Caribbean the night before — in this case, I assumed, the flight would leave on the 15th and arrive in the early afternoon on the 16th. My official itinerary came to my cell phone the afternoon of the 12th. At the time, I took a quick peek at my flight plans and saw the date the 15th, which did not register as July 15, 12:10AM. Sure, I have missed many flights before, but this was due to delayed planes and disagreeable weather.
You can see what happened next. On the morning of the 15th, about eight hours after my plane had took to the sky, I planned a slow day of packing. I sat relaxed sipping OJ when I thought I would finally look at my flight numbers. Did I mention that I am a jerk face?
It was the first time I had missed any flight for a professional assignment, ever. My heart sank and the orange juice curdled in my stomach when I read the flight times. I looked at several calendars assuming there must be some mistake — but there was no mistake. While I began to perspire from a severe hot flash, I started calling numbers to fix this problem. My first call went to American Airlines.
I offered my gold card and my booking numbers to the polite voice on the other end of my call. I took notes as I thought this might be a good story for travelers, “What to do when you miss your flight.” Fortunately, I am not the first person to miss a flight — but let’s talk details.
American Airlines Customer Support — the Phone
“I missed my flight,” I said to the polite American Airlines agent over the phone. I was put on hold. When she returned, the polite operator told me that the “computer” canceled my return flight the moment after I missed my first flight. I was also told that I had a non-refundable ticket. I explained that I was not looking for a refund, and I would still like to travel to Jamaica. I was put on hold. Several minutes later I was told there was nothing they could do.
I asked, “Can I speak to a supervisor?”
“No*, but maybe I can help you.” I was put on hold. A few more minutes went by.
“There is a $140 ‘change fee,’” she said.
“Fine,” I said.
“And $110 ‘fare increase.’”
“$250? Of course, an increase. Okay, I’ll take it. Thank you. Can I pay with a credit card or use my miles?” I just wanted to fix a bad situation as quickly as possible and save my reputation as a reliable journalist.
“Well,” she said, “If I were you I would just go to the airport and be put on ‘standby,’ but they might charge you a $140 change fee. This should not be a problem.” This made sense as this kind of thing must happen all the time.
“Will this be a problem?” I asked.
“Is there anything else I will need? Passport? American Airlines Milage card?”
“Are you sure it is not better to just pay now, and confirm my tickets?”
My next call was to the PR firm who had originally arranged my flights to let them know what was going on. To my contact’s credit, she handled the situation with humor. I packed and grabbed a few hundred in cash and rushed to the airport with new found encouragement. Everything would be okay, right?