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Elite or Bust.
I currently hold top tier status in both airlines. Over the course of this year I’ve mixed and matched the how I credit my flights. My goal at the beginning of the year was to hit top tier in both airlines. Travel plans changed and now I’m shooting to hit AS Gold and AA Gold. I figured this way I’ll still get 100% bonus when I fly partners of AS, and get eensy weensie teeny weenie benefits when I fly AA. What’s been interesting to me is how differently I’m treated when flying American, but crediting to Alaska
Let’s take yesterday, my birthday
My girlfriend and I were flying on the 5pm flight from Indianapolis to Los Angeles and arrived at the airport at 4:17. I needed to check a bag as I had birthday presents from my parents. 43 minutes prior to departure. I understand that the “rule” is you must check-in 45 minutes ahead of departure in order to check a bag, but we were out to lunch and lost track of time. Gary Leff also wrote an article about a “3” minute grace period. No grace was given to us. In fact, as if the stress of arriving later than we wanted wasn’t enough…
The clerk insisted we must fly the following day as there was no time to check the bag. Wait, what?
Not only did she say this, but it was how she said. Curt and gruff. We were in the priority line, and even though we didn’t have EP on our record locator we did have MVPGOLD75. Both of us.
I probably should have mentioned my status on AA, but time was crunched, I was little taken aback, and didn’t really want to get into some situation so close to our flight – a few hesitations on her behalf and we would miss our flight.
Luckily, my mom had come in with us for this very situation.
I didn’t think it would matter for 2 or 3 minutes, but only once she confirmed that my mom would take the bag did she even proceed with checking us in, which is kind of ironic as both of us were already checked in online and could have just gone straight to the gate, but needed to process our pet. Yep…had I known we would have encountered a rude rep I probably would have tried to take my checked bag to the gate, shown my EP status there, and hoped for the best: a gateside check.
Ultimately, I pulled a few things out and gave my mom the bag.
When my girlfriend inquired about adding TSA Pre the agent complained that there was no time, we were late, and continued huffing and puffing until she processed it. Because of TSA Pre we got to the gate as they were boarding group 4 ( our group with AS status).
What I’ve noticed the most this year is the varying difference in attitude and friendliness when dealing with me as an elite vs a general member.
Treatment and attitude shouldn’t vary from irritated and gruff to friendly. I’m a paying customer, and should be treated respectfully no matter what my status. I’d expect an Elite to experience customer service whereby the rules are massaged a bit, and to feel that your loyalty is appreciated through expedited, priority service. This would be in addition to the guaranteed benefits that the status brings.
Next year I’ll be significantly further down the totem pole.
As competition increases I’ll be looking to pivot even more of my travel to other airlines because of experiences like these. I understand rules are rules, but we were treated as absolute nuisances…AND IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY! Lol – not that it should matter that much, but of all days…
If this were a stand alone experience then I’d write it off to someone having a bad day. And, it very well could have been just that, but it’s happened to me a few times now. When my status isn’t present – I’m not treated well. In fact, even on this flight from Indy to LA I was given a hard time about getting my free food while in coach – this is an advertised perk of Executive Platinum status. You don’t need to have it on your ticket, only show your membership card. Thankfully I knew that the AA magazine has, in fine print, a section whereby it states this benefit otherwise I would have been denied it – simply because I was crediting to Alaska.