Traveling the world in 2017 is more efficient than ever before. I am certain that this efficiency will continue to improve unless American Airlines has anything to say about it. Yes, I am complaining about American Airlines new policy regarding through-checked baggage.

The Policy

A few months ago, in order to maximize profits and inconvenience travelers, American Airlines enacted the following policy:

To align American Airlines (AA) with our oneworld partners and to reduce baggage mishandlings, we will now only through check customers and baggage when all the tickets are in the same PNR. Through check-in will be honored between the following carriers only:

  • American Airlines and American Eagle
  • oneworld airlines and affiliates

Better said – passengers flying on American Airlines and oneworld partners cannot check their bag to a final destination if the travel spans multiple record locators.

Are airlines concerned with efficiency, or profits?

The Policy In Practice

My Multiple AA Bookings

My wife and I wanted to go to Europe for the New Year. We really didn’t care what city we flew into, but knew that we wanted Business Class and had AA miles to burn!

While award availability was scarce all-around our peak travel date – the day after Christmas, December 26 – I managed to book us 2 Biz Class awards on an American Airlines operated flight from Miami to Milan (MXP)!  I booked the award and now sought to find a way down south to Miami.

AA Award availability from Tampa to MIA was non-existent, but there were plenty of AA flights with seats remaining to get to MIA by our 5pm departure.

A few days and a few Amex airline fee reimbursement credits later – we had our tickets to Miami – with a nice 2 hour window to experience the Centurion Lounge.

Centurion - AYP

Centurion Lounge MIA – Here we come!

Can we all agree that this appears to be a legitimate booking? Does it seem as though I am attempting to “game” the system and pay a cheaper price? Or is this booking one that any normal traveler might make in order utilize hard earned AAdvantage miles and travel in a premium class?

The Checked Bag

Before we get started, I must tell you something. Like most frequent travelers, I hate checking bags. Stuff just seems to get messy and muddled when checked baggage is involved and I try my best to avoid it in every situation. In my case below, the checked bag situation could not be avoided – I am sure many of you can relate! And now for my story…

I remember reading on View from the Wing that American Airlines had changed their check bag policy regarding through-checked bags, but…

“Customers traveling on separate tickets where one segment is an award ticket and another has been purchased can through-check bags.”

Since we were traveling solely on AA in a combination of award and paid tickets, I KNEW that AA would check my bag through to my final destination of Milan. Apparently, I was wrong…

The ticket agent at TPA airport informed me that since I had tickets on 2 separate PNR’s I could NOT through check my bag to my final destination, regardless of the award + paid tickets. Huh? Did they not know their own policy?

I pointed out that one of the tickets was an award and both flights were on American Airlines…

No dice…

Unprompted, she agreed that the policy was inefficient and created more work for all. When I asked why AA would put such a policy in place, she explained that many travelers have been booking tickets separately in order to reduce the price of the airfare and that this policy is an attempt to discourage such practice.

Pretty weak stuff, huh?

Call the Manager

I then discussed the policy with her manager, who could also offer me no assistance since the tickets were on different record locators, but advised me to call and have an agent merge the tickets under a single PNR.

At this point we still had time, so I dialed up AA and tried my luck at merging the tickets into a single PNR, but the agent told me he had no ability to do so and to check with the ticket agents at the airport.

Great.

By this point time was running out and I didn’t have time to HUCA and chat with a different, and hopefully more informed agent…

So then I did what all disgruntled travelers do… I took to Twitter.

tweet-to-aa-baggage-ayp

Different AA representatives though all different channels, but the same bull s**t “Our policy has changed to better accommodate all passengers blah blah blah…”

What Happened Next?

The flight from Tampa was delayed over an hour due to a radar malfunction in Jacksonville.

Where's my plane???

Hurry up! I have a plane to catch!

It left me with less than 1 hour to de-board, collect the bag from baggage claim, re-check the bag, process through security, and board my flight.

To put a sudden end to this rant – luckily for me, all the above ran smoothly and I was in my seat in time for takeoff, though no time for Centurion…

MIA Centurion Lounge 2 - AYP AA 767 Business Class - AYP

Final Gripe, I Mean Thought…

Wouldn’t it have been easier on all parties – myself, my wife, all AA agents I encountered along the way, TSA, the baggage crew – if I was just allowed to check my bag to my final destination?

To any and all readers, if I am off base here or if I am missing some obvious reason as to why it makes more sense for me to re-check a bag during my connection, please let me know.

American Airlines – please feel free to comment, tweet, or email me directly, though I doubt you will.

Shame on you AA… but to everyone else…

Happy Travels!

DW

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