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  1. Was he making reservations and then canceling them? I know that on the website you can check for seats available but this function does not work on the app or mobile website

  2. Ok, so he’s a nice guy, but was he actually blocking seats? Did he put seats on hold? Or was he going through a fake booking to look at the seats (which seems like it could tie up seats for a little while)? If its the latter it seems extreme, if he actually put tickets on hold or something similar, maybe not.

  3. Can you explain what you mean when you say “seat blocking”? What was the conduct that prompted this response from AAdvantage?

  4. I do think we need some more information here. AA.com actually lets you preview seat maps without even initiating a booking… it also lets you preview seat availability at the first step of a reservation, before you even choose a flight and proceed with the booking process.

  5. This is “The Friend” that’s being referred to. I did not block or hold any seats to my k ow ledge in any fashion. I used an ASDF name just to jump in and see how many seats were still available in Business- but I never put a HOLD even once on anything.

    What truly scared me when they blocked the account yesterday as I was multi-year king to get ready for my trip, is that I thought my AA profile had been compromised and my Passport, Known Traveler and other information had been taken. This sent me into numerous calls across the board of my life trying to find out what was happening. I wrote a very kind and apologetic response to AA saying I honestly was clueless I had done anything wrong and was there leeway on the mileage deduction- but no response as of yet. — The Friend

  6. He would go in and start a reservation but never click on a seat, never hold anything, and never go beyond the seat map. Does that make sense?

    Clearly that did something more than he intended, and there are likely better ways to go about it. I still think there should have been some sort of notification to him before blocking him from logging into his account and then taking points.

  7. Yes, it seems like something is missing from this story. “Checking availability” and seat blocking seem to be two very different things.

  8. @AB omg I so wish I was the one going on a European vacation this weekend…. 🙂

    @Shannon I did the same thing when I was trying to see how many seats were available for my last trip to Manila, so that’s why I call it checking availability. Regardless, maybe frequent international award travelers know better, but frequent domestic travelers may not.

  9. Wow, thanks for posting this. I do this all the time, just browsing to see flights and seats available on them. I never thought it to be “seat blocking.” That’s going off the deep end if you ask me… But good to know.

  10. Why don’t you paste the email you received, without your name and AA #, so we can try to understand what really happened?

  11. If I had been hitting the HOLD button each time in doing this, I could certainly see AA coming down on this, especially with names like ASDF… but i never hit HOLD, just looked to see availabilty. If closing a browser window at that point some activities a hold then AA has a large problem w their site. Also, the said I had been doing this tactic since October… why would anyone do that… there’s no sense in it. I’m not smart enough to think of it and not dumb enough to purposefully do it.

    — The Friend

  12. Simply browsing the website to do a dummy booking would not take the seat out of the inventory. And really, if that’s an issue, then do it as a guest user, or even do a dummy booking on Expedia or Orbitz would achieve the same result. But really, seatmap is not a reliable indicator of seat availability.

    Something is amiss here – what was the actual T&C referenced?

  13. AA is so shady. I do that all the time (United), nothing against the rules at all in my opinion. It could be worse.. They could have gone after him like they did the AAirpass guy. I hate American for numerous reason. They are Nazis.

  14. @The Friend – I see, if you got to the point of putting a name in, it would hold the seats for a certain period of time (by design, to give you enough time to buy the ticket). From AA’s standpoint, this means they have one less seat to sell. Worse, if this was the last seat in the lowest fare bucket available, someone else searching for the flight would only see more expensive fares, possibly much more expensive. As you can deduce, and AA has deduced, this can cost AA a sale and drive business to a cheaper competitor.

    As others have mentioned there are many less invasive ways to check availability.

  15. @TheFriend– I don’t understand why you would go so far into the booking process to actually put a “ASDF” name in. You can preview seat maps before you even get that far.

  16. DHC— wow, I had no clue. To get to that point you have to put in a name and the rest. I wasnt aware of the other ways or I’d have gone that route (certainly easier).

    I’m still surprised with names like ASDF that they thought I was trying to pull something… I mean that alone would red flag it (and much sooner I’d think).

    I’d have really appreciated a call from their IT going, “umm… we’re noticing ___” and I’d have said wow, my bad and no clue and I’ll stop” – would have been that easy.

    – The Friend

  17. Claiming honest ignorance on that one… If I’d known about it it would have been much easier.

  18. I’m thinking there has to be more to this than written. Was he/she logged into their AA account while said previewing was happening? AA has better things to do than to block an account and penalize for simply looking at seats.

  19. The corporate couture at AA is horrible and always has been all the way down to the flight attendants. They are simply horrible every time I fly them. The professionalism and customer service at that airlines is the worst I have ever dealt with. They would go a long way by hiring someone from the Amex Plat team or even the “NEW” TMobile. Neither are over the top, but they sure make an effort anymore.

  20. Clearly initiating bookings is not how AA wants you to go about checking seat availability but it does seem unfair of them to penalize you without warning. Might have been a good opportunity for them to realize that they are not making the correct method for checking availability as evident as they think.

    On the other hand, you went through a BOOKing – meant to BOOK a flight – just to check seat availability. The important lesson for you is that if you are going to do something dodgy like that on the internet don’t do it while you’re logged into an account full of identifying information…

  21. I worked at AA many years ago. People would pull that trick all the time. They make fake bookings in first or business so that a real revenue passenger couldn’t get the seat. Then they hope that they will get upgraded at the airport because there will be empty seats up front. Why would you use ASDF as a name? Obviously a booking was being made and the seat taken out of inventory for them to block your account. AA employees have gotten fired for doing the same thing (they booked revenue tickets to block seats up front, and canceled them so they could ride non-rev in first or business). Anybody caught gaming the system is going to get a slap on the wrist, and if they do it again, the account gets closed.

  22. Here’s my question — if you weren’t signing in under your account but instead just using an ASDF name, how did AA know it was you?

  23. Julian— I had guessed they traced the routing ID or something along that line? I’m not very tech savvy (obviously lol)

  24. I’ll leave that up to Warriorette as this is her posting, but I’m certainly not putting my name or # out on here… isnt the point of this to have discussions under screen names?

  25. JD — good points all around, I guess I really just didn’t think I was doing something left-handed, so to speak.

    This is really good info, thanks, everyone.

  26. My gut tells me there is more to this than what is provided here. customer service agents aren’t usually great at delivering service these days, I really don’t find it credible to hear he called service only to have “people to repeatedly hang up on him.” I also don’t find it credible that they pulled some bogus number of miles out of the air and penalized him. Either your friend is lying, not telling you all the details, or you’re not providing all of them on this post.

  27. I’m wondering the same thing as @Julian. If you weren’t logged in, the only “fingerprint” would be your IP address. But even then, AA couldn’t definitively say it’s you, by name, without your ISP providing that information to them – which wouldn’t happen.

    Something seems missing.

  28. All– I can only say I’ve been 100% accurate and honest in my pov on what I’ve conveyed and what happened. I was transferred around and shuffled many times. Several I got hang ups, others extremely curt/short (as I’d obviously been flagged). I don’t know the answers re IPP addresses etc, just that this is what’s happened for me. I appreciate all of the input and knowledge from this thread. Lying or holding parts back does me no good, as I’m just trying to better understand all that’s happened. No one knows me from Adam, so believe it or not, but I do appreciate the input and what I’m learning.

    Thanks, The Friend

  29. Your friend should NOT be logged in when doing these kinds of searches. When you select flights, before booking them, even just for fun, the system creates a reservation and puts a hold on the seat. Your friend is almost certainly not aware of this, and each time he would check, select the flights and get to the seat map, he would be creating new reservations. I don’t know if this is new or not, but I noticed that although these reservations wouldn’t show up in my flight list, they would be available to the reservation agents on the phone, and to them, they appeared like any other itinerary on hold. Your friend should explain what they were doing to this rep, if they have any compassion on you, and at this level, they are rather heartless, but it appeared to me based on conversations I have had with folks at the EXP desk, even they didn’t seem to be able to distinguish between reservations I put on hold and those the system did automatically.

  30. Wow, Adam — I think you hit the nail on the head. Live and learn I guess- though this cost me 60,000 for not knowing better :/ Based 9 your input I can see why they reacted as such, though from my end, I had no clue in was having that effect on the system. Thanks, you’ve cleared alot of up me- much appreciated.

  31. Sorry this happened to you Friend, but it is a good warning to the rest of us. Forgive me if I missed it in the post or comments, but it would clear up a lot of confusion if The Friend clarified whether he was logged in to his AA account while conducting these inventory checks. If not, I don’t understand how AA could’ve identified the perpetrator. IP addresses don’t include personally identifying info. What if it were a shared computer in a library or something?

  32. AA said: “These First and Business class bookings were systematically booked from January 8, 2014 to today (March 20, 2014)…”

    I was confused since The Friend did not book the res, but the latest comments seems to say that if you just checked around and selected a seat it created a booking automatically? is this what AA refers to as “systematically booked”?

  33. @Adam – great insight, thanks!

    “each time he would check, select the flights and get to the seat map, he would be creating new reservations.”

    “although these reservations wouldn’t show up in my flight list, they would be available to the reservation agents on the phone, and to them, they appeared like any other itinerary on hold.”

    so any unintentional search (w/o hitting the Hold button) can result in a hold? that is wild unless I suppose when browser session ends instead of 24 hrs.

  34. I very well could have been signed in, which would explain ALOT. I may have been working on upcoming flights in one window while checking this in another- not sure what’s possible or not w that but THAT adam said would seem a clear answer to me. But, again, I didn’t know I was doing something wrong, so it never occurred to me to worry about it :/

    Thanks, all, for the help on this. Warriorette- this definitely deserves a mention to others (as many seem to be doing what I was) so no one else has to go through this.

    I’m 2 hours out from my flight to Europe now, just waiting- but at least it’s a mystery solved and I get what actually happened.

    Thanks, Warriorette and All.

  35. my last post “the hold is released when browser session ends, usually in 10-20 min, instead of 24 hrs.”

    thanks for sharing this incident, never can have too much knowledge in this game. have a great trip!

  36. Got it. Thanks for sharing the story and answering our questions. Hopefully you get your 60k miles back but either way you probably helped some of us avoid losing ours in the same way.

  37. Wow, I had no idea that was how it worked. I wonder if Delta is the same way. When I’m looking to book a flight, I’ll often go all the way to the seat map on many different schedule iterations in separate browser tabs. It never occurred to me that that would create any kind of hold – my thought was always that those potential itineraries could be sold out while I was making up my mind.

  38. Interesting thread. I’m new to the miles thing (as in, got my first miles c.c.) so this is helpful.

  39. I do this sort of thing ALL THE TIME on Delta. Not to check the seat map, because there are easier ways, but because it’s the only way to see how many miles you will get for a particular trip.

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