Last month I posted about a friend of mine who had 60k Aadvantage miles yanked from his account due to “seat blocking”. A quick synopsis: He travels 2-3 times per month on American, is Platinum, and had a big vacation to Europe scheduled for March. He immediately got on the upgrade list for both outbound and inbound. Inbound cleared immediately. He started checking to see if there were any available biz class seats for the outbound flight. The day before departure, access to his AA accounts were suddenly blocked. After frantic phone calls, he got an email from AA saying that they were taking 60k miles and kicking him off of the outbound upgrade list due to his “seat blocking.”
We’ve figured out what my friend’s mistake was: in order to see what seats were available, he inadvertently created reservations. American was unable to sell these seats for a period of time, therefore they called it “seat blocking.” It was completely accidental on my friend’s part—he had no idea he was creating reservations, as he never clicked “book” or even selected seats. I also didn’t realize he was doing anything wrong, as I have done a similar thing leading up to my trips to Manila.
Upon arriving home from vacation, my friend repeatedly called and emailed American to find out more information. He felt it was a huge misunderstanding, and if he could explain it to someone he would have a chance of getting his miles back, or at least clearing his name. He hit brick walls at every turn. Eventually, he was told that the only person that could help him was the original business analyst that emailed him. He sent her another email explaining what happened (in addition to the one he sent when this happened, which is in the original post). He never heard back from her.
Dear [Business Analyst],
I’m just trying to reach out to you on last time on your above email from March 20th.
For me, the above isn’t simply about the 60,000 miles, it’s a matter of integrity and pride. I simply view you as someone doing their job and acting in the manner you see appropriate, without judgment on yourself or your character – but what’s been said and done to me is a judgment on myself and my character.
I can only reiterate that what happened caught me completely by shock – and it’s why I’m still trying to follow up on this, because it was all unintentional and unknowing on my end. I’ve posted to several of the larger airline blogs trying to understand what you believed I was attempting to do and how it was even possible.
You should know that the responses on these were that a great deal of people do the same thing that I was, just checking to see what the chances for an upgrade are – without a clue that it somehow affects AA’s system or violates any TOS, and many of these are long-term Platinum/Executive flyers. Again – if I had even had a clue that was the case, I never would have. I suppose this helps everyone on those blogs to be the wiser, now, but I still feel like I’ve been hit out of left field by all of this.
I never once put a Hold on any of those seats – if I had done something like that, then I would definitely have thought that I was doing something wrong. I’m also not sure on why, from your point of view, I would have been trying to block seats all the way back in October (per your attachment) when I first purchased the ticket (and was, again, just trying to see the chances of upgrades at the time), or how I would think names like ASDF would somehow be fooling anyone if I truly were attempting to do so.
I won’t take up more of your time- but I just need to reiterate that you’ve come after an unknowing person with all of this- and if I had simply gotten an email or a call letting me know what was occurring and how it was perceived on AA’s side, it would have solved everything and I’d have at least known upfront and could have shared that information with others. The fact that I had to research to find out how what I was doing might even be affecting AA’s system says something to me.
I would truly appreciate a response, and value your reading this.
He sent her another email, asking if she received his other emails. Nothing. Finally, he emailed her this week.
Would you be willing to donate the 60,000 miles that you took to the AA Make-A-Wish Program?
That way, you’ve done what you need to in still having taken the miles from me, but at least I can know that something good came out of all this.
Could you please at least do this?
Last night he got this response.
Thank you for your response. If you would like to donate miles to the Make-A-Wish program from your remaining miles, you are welcome to do so, but it will not be possible to utilize the miles penalized.
So there you go. He inadvertently broke the rules, and instead of a warning he was penalized a large amount of miles. When he requested clarification, he was ignored.
I want to reiterate: my friend flies with American every month, often multiple times per month. He has been extremely loyal for years. It seems like the new American is not interested in retaining their frequent travelers. Combine this with the way the recent award changes happened, and it’s feeling more and more like an airline I don’t want to fly.
Readers, any thoughts?
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