In the recent post, “How I screwed up my end of year AA mileage run,” I told the story of what I thought would be my last mileage run. I had calculated my last flight’s EQPs (Elite Qualifying Points) incorrectly and was then about 2600 EQPs short of my goal. With very few days left in the year to make up the shortfall, I cancelled an award flight to Florida and replaced it with a paid first class flight (I paid with ThankYou points, but AA counts it as a paid flight) so that I could re-up my Executive Platinum status for 2016. Had all gone according to plan, I would now have the needed 100,000 EQPs for Executive Platinum status.
But, of course, things didn’t go as planned. As of last night, my AA account is still 2,025 EQPs short:
To Fort Lauderdale via Philadelphia
On Sunday, I Ubered to the airport to catch my flight to Fort Lauderdale via Philadelphia. My wife and son kept their non-stop first class seats on Delta, so they drove to the airport much later in the day. The plan had me arriving at the Fort Lauderdale airport about half an hour before them, so I would get my Silvercar rental and then pick them up at their terminal.
To Miami instead?
Our plans began to crumble when I arrived at the Detroit airport. At the gate, I learned that my flight to Philadelphia would be delayed. At first, they announced a minor delay, but soon pushed back the predicted departure time. AA proactively recognized that I would miss my connection. They called me up to the desk at the gate and rebooked me on a direct flight to Miami for later that night. They told me that they gave me the last seat available on that flight… in coach. Miami isn’t too far from Fort Lauderdale, but it wasn’t convenient.
To Fort Lauderdale via Chicago?
At that point I was unaware of how serious the situation was so I tried to negotiate a better route that would deliver me to Fort Lauderdale, or Palm Beach International, which was closer to our ultimate destination. The agent I spoke with found a possible route through Chicago, but since the Chicago flight was about to close its doors, she was unable to put me on the flight. She said that if I ran, I might be able to get on.
So, I literally ran from the legacy US Airways section of the terminal to the far end of the AA section. It’s not terribly far, but still I was too late.
I tried calling the AA Executive Platinum desk to see if they could find any good options. No luck there. So, I hoofed it back to the original gate to see what they could do for me.
To Fort Lauderdale via Dallas?
Luckily, I was able to get the attention of the supervisor (or manager?) on duty, named Charlie. Charlie found a flight through Dallas to Fort Lauderdale. A seat had just opened up. I took It. I would arrive much later than my wife and son, but at least we’d end up at the same airport. And, I knew there was an earlier flight to Dallas that I might be able to fly standby on. If that worked, maybe I could also catch an earlier flight to Fort Lauderdale. After all, Executive Platinum members are automatically placed at the top of the standby lists, so I figured that my chances were good.
I raced back to the AA section of the terminal to get on the standby list for the earlier flight to Dallas. They were getting ready to board. A person in front of me was denied standby, but I was allowed onto the list due to my status. Then I waited while ticketed passengers boarded the plane.
While waiting, I received a text and email from AA. My confirmed flight to Dallas was cancelled. Uh oh. Then, a gate agent announced that my standby flight was full. Yikes.
Nothing till tomorrow
I sullenly returned to my original gate in the legacy US Airways area. At that point, not only was the flight to Miami unavailable, but they were unable to confirm me on any flight out of Detroit. They literally looked at every possible destination including LaGuardia, Phoenix, Dallas, etc. Unfortunately for me, Delta had severed the interline agreement with AA earlier this year, so Delta flights weren’t an option. And, United had nothing.
I told Charlie that I would like to try my luck with standby through Charlotte. The problem was that to fly standby I needed a confirmed ticket to somewhere. Charlie finally worked out a solution. He booked me on the first flight through Philadelphia Monday morning and then worked some magic to add me to the standby list to Charlotte for Sunday afternoon. I thanked Charlie with a handshake and went to try my luck on standby.
Standby To Charlotte
I checked with the Charlotte gate agent to ask about my standby chances. She thought I had a small chance of getting on the next flight to Charlotte, but less chance of clearing standby on the Charlotte to Fort Lauderdale flight. I was willing to risk it. One thing at a time. There would be multiple flights from Charlotte to Fort Lauderdale, so I’d have two or three chances to get there. And, at the very least, Charlotte would be in the right direction.
Later, I was called up to the desk. A mother and daughter were on the standby list just below me. If only 2 seats were available, would I give up my seat so that they could travel together? Well, yeah, of course. So, I settled in while the plane filled up with passengers. All I could do was hope that 3 seats would be available.
As luck would have it for me, but not for the mother and daughter, only 1 seat remained. They didn’t want to split up, so the seat went to me. Amazingly, it was in first class.
I let my wife know that there was actually a chance now that I would get to Fort Lauderdale soon after they did. If I was lucky enough to win the standby lottery on the next flight to Fort Lauderdale from Charlotte, I would land about a half hour after they were scheduled to arrive. Fingers crossed.
Standby from Charlotte to Fort Lauderdale
We arrived at the E concourse in Charlotte, which was startlingly dumpy compared to the rest of the airport. Is this an old section that has never been fully renovated? Many people ran past me from the E concourse towards the main part of the airport. Whether they were trying to catch connecting flights or simply escape the old concourse, I don’t know. I too hurried from the E concourse despite having plenty of time. It seemed to be the thing to do.
Based on the crowds, I’m pretty sure that nearly everyone in the world was in the Charlotte airport on Sunday. Sorry I didn’t stop to say hi to you. I pushed and dodged my way to the far end of the C concourse and found the Fort Lauderdale gate. There I confirmed that I was on the standby list and in the top position. Excellent.
Prior to boarding, I was called to the desk and handed a boarding pass! Seat 10A. It wasn’t first class, but it was a seat, and a pretty good one at that. Sweet! Even better, a few minutes later I was called to the desk again. This time I was handed a first class boarding pass. Unbelievably, I managed to fly first class the entire route even though I had many doubts about being able to get to Florida that day at all.
My wife and son’s Delta flight was delayed a few minutes. My flight arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule. In the end, we arrived very close to the same time!
My current EQP count: short 2,025 or 329 depending upon how you count it
I needed 100,000 EQPs to requalify for Executive Platinum status. As of Tuesday evening, the flight to Charlotte has been credited to my account, but not the flight to Fort Lauderdale. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. Even if/when the second segment is credited, I’ll still be 329 EQPs short of my goal.
Original Routing Credit
Julian, the Devil’s Advocate, has written in the past about the ability to get original routing credit just by calling to ask. See: Bet You Didn’t Know: Original routing credit (and a little extra). His example was with US Airways, but I’m pretty sure that AA will do the same (Gary Leff, author of View from the Wing, has confirmed with me that he has succeeded with this several times). I’ll give them a call. Fingers crossed.