I enjoy scoring cheap paid or complimentary upgrades prior to my flights. Earlier today, I had the option to upgrade the Northwest Florida to Charlotte portion of my itinerary for $57. The flight was operated by a CRJ-900, which I have never flown.
I began the check in on the American Airlines’ application, but quickly cancelled the process when I saw the potential to upgrade. The application was closed because I did not expect to see an upgrade option for a government fare. A government fare is one booked through a military travel office and cannot, usually, be upgraded using cash or miles.
I decided to go ahead with the upgrade purchase. I opened the application to see I had already been checked in. How??? The next thing I did was call American Airlines. I received an automated message stating all of the agents were handling calls due to inclement weather throughout the United States.
I was then asked if I wanted to receive a call back from the airline in between 56 and 107 minutes. What???
The call was returned in 84 minutes.
The call went like this:
Agent: Mr. Short?
Me: yes ma’am, good evening.
Agent: how can I help you?
Me: um, I had the option to upgrade earlier, but now the option is…
Agent: well, it looks like you checked in already so please try at the airport.
Me: ma’am, that’s why I’m calling. I didn’t…
Agent: the system says you did. Besides, you are on a government ticket…please hold while I call fare control.
(Ten minutes later)
Agent: Mr. Short? Yes, the only segment eligible for upgrade is from Northwest Florida to Charlotte.
Me: yes ma’am, I was trying to…
Agent: well, if you want to upgrade that segment, you have to purchase a regular fare while using your government fare as a discount.
Me: Ok, how much would that run me?
Agent: $600 additional.
Me: LOL. I’ll pass, but how did it go from $57 to $600?
Agent: look, Mr. Short, this is the only way possible.
Me: I’m good.
Agent: ok, you can talk to the agent at the airport to see if you can get the upgrade.
WTH just happened?! I have not flown American Airlines regularly for quite some time and now I remember why. This rude agent and the disrespectful male flight attendant on my outbound leg to Tampa leave a lot to be desired. Is it so hard to be cordial? Professional? Or sound a bit enthusiastic?
Come on American, get it together, this is unacceptable.