Broken IFE

During my flight to Cancun, I choose to seat on an emergency row so I could get up whenever I wanted since I was traveling solo.

After departure I tried to pull up the IFE, however to my luck it would not stay in place. It would just fall back, and if not careful, hit my leg. I was not the only one dealing with this issue, the other two passengers in my row had the same issue.

I knew that there was no point in complaining to a flight attendant as there was nothing they could do. So I waited until I had time back on the ground to contact AA. I tried twice via twitter but got no response either time.

So I finally emailed customer service and explained the situation, including the fact that I had booked this flight using miles.

A couple of days later, I received a response and was offered 2,000 miles for the inconvenience. So while not a lot of miles as an apology, this meant that my flight had only cost me 11,500 miles plus tax, which ended up being a good deal, since a one way ticket had been priced at over $250 around the time I booked my trip.

Better news  is that now Flight Attendants will have the power to credit miles for inconveniences while in the air.

However the point that I am trying to make, is that we are still customers when getting on a plane, and we do have the right to complain about issues that might make our trip less enjoyable.

Just remember to do it in a polite and professional way.

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Late Arrival at CUN

On my way to Cancun I had to choose the last flight of the day  due to my job, so I landed close to 11 PM at night. I was able to clear immigration pretty quickly and went to pick up my luggage.

 After a little while I was outside the terminal waiting for the bus to Playa Del Carmen, unfortunately I found out that the bus stand was already closed.

With several people trying to sell me taxi or shuttle services at ridiculous prices, I had to start thinking on my feet.

I first tried the ADO Movil app, and I was able to get it to pull up the following outgoing bus to Playa del Carmen.  However I found out, that to purchase a ticket I needed to have a Mexican credit/debit card, which I confirmed with the ADO call center a few minutes later.

I was advised, by the operator I was speaking with, to transfer terminals so I could catch the bus from another section of the airport where there should be a stand open to sell me a ticket.

After transferring between terminals using the Airport shuttle, I discovered that the only stand that could sell me a ticket did not take cards, so I had to buy the ticket using USD and the exchange rate was pretty bad.

If you ever have the need to land so late at Cancun make sure to have a plan to acquire bus tickets or pay for a shuttle/taxi so you do not get stuck trying to figure it out for over an hour at the airport late at night.

Last Minute Flight

One of my New Year resolutions was to travel at least once a month, even if that means just flying down to the Riviera Maya to relax for a couple of days.

Since January was upon me, I had to think quickly what to do as I had not planned any trips for this month last year.

I figured I could travel down to Mexico City or the Riviera Maya, and after checking flight prices, it seemed that Mexico City would be cheaper.

However a round trip was still in the highs 400s-500s for the weekend I could travel. After a couple of days of debating what to do, I remembered to check if there were any good trips with miles in the date I needed to fly out.

And so I checked, a one-way flight was 15,000 miles, which seem like a lot, but since I have the American Airlines Citi card, I get 10% of the miles back, so it would only cost me 13,500 miles.

So I decided that due to the ticket high cost, I was better off using miles and paying the taxes than paying for the flight, and this allowed me to go to the Riviera Maya rather than Mexico City.

Even after paying taxes, I was better using miles for my one way flight and then paying for my way back.

It always pays off to do a quick check if using miles might turn out to be a better deal for you.

Silvercar at LAX

I have used Silvercar once in Miami and it was by far the best renting experience with a car company, so they were my immediate choice when going to LA.

Upon arrival at LAX, I had to wait for awhile as my plane had arrived to early for me to pick up the vehicle. After walking around to get some exercise, and get to know how to move around between some of the terminals, the time arrived for me to text Silvercar for pick-up.

I was first redirected upstairs to the Alaska check-in area in Terminal 6. The text said to “look for their sign”, which was nowhere to be found. A few minutes later I get a call to let me know that my driver cannot see me, which makes me wonder what he is looking at as there is no way for him to know who I am anyway.

I tell the caller that I cannot see the driver, and he then tells me to look for a grey minivan, which later on I discovered was a Ford Passenger Van, that had passed me and was now a few feet ahead, so I get walking.

I apologized to the driver as I did not see any sign (there was no visible sign anywhere that I could find) and I had not been told that I would be picked up in a mini-van.

Picking up the car was quickly and in no time I was on my way to see LA for a 24-hour visit.

The following day I was running behind a bit to return the vehicle. However according the Silvercar’s website there is a 30 minute grace period from the schedule drop-off time. I had rented the car for just 24 hours so if I did not return it on time I could face a fee charge for 1/4 of a day rental cost.

I returned the car with 5 minutes to spare. I took my ride back to LAX and did not think much of it until I was sitting in the lounge and I noticed that I had been charged the extra 1/4 of a day.

I contacted their customer service and after reviewing my rental they agreed to refund me the extra cost, but I was warned that the grace period starts from the time of pick-up, opposite of what their website says.

Just food for thought

 

British Airways – Seat Reservations for AA Elites

Back in May I took advantage of a fare war that had flights to Europe from around $500s – $600s. When I started getting into traveling I figured out that I needed to gain an elite status with AA so my travel experience could be a bit more enjoyable and comfortable.

After some calculation I found that I was going to reach Gold status around mid-september, something I was surprised about as I did not expect to reach this level until year-end.

So with this fare war going I began to calculate what it would take to reach Platinum, and to my surprise all I would need was a few short trips within the US and a long flight.

I was able to get a good deal to fly from DFW-SFO-LHR and back BCN-MIA-DFW. This trips was interesting to me because I would be able to gain enough EQMs by flying backwards (DFW-SFO) a bit and the forward to London, but also because I was able to get seats in BAs A380, a plane I have wanted to fly in for a long time.

Fast forward to a week before the trip, and by now I have Gold status with AA; according to British Airways website I am allowed to get seats 7 day in advance as One World Ruby (or AA Gold Status). However the system was not allowing me to do so when I tried.

I reached out to them in twitter and after a bit of back and forth communication, they were able to fix the problem. I even got a phone call from them, which is rather interesting to me as I have heard that getting hold of a phone agent can be quite complicated sometimes.

I did learn that if I have a reservation that includes a flight with BA and I get status with a One World airline after it has been booked, I have to get in touch with them so they can “refresh” the reservation so my new elite status shows, otherwise none of the perks will kick-in on their own.

About 6 days ahead of departure I was able to select seats on the upper floor of the massive A380, the only seats I was not allowed to reserve were exit rows.

By the time I return home in mid December I will have Platinum Status with AA, which according to BA’s website should allow me to reserve seats on any BA operated flight at the time of booking.

At this time I have two BA flights next year so I will try to get my seats as soon as my Elite status updates with AA.

Lyft Overcharge

Back in July I went to Vegas to celebrate a birthday. It was the first time I would be using a lyft in Vegas, as in my previous visits I had taken a shuttle service to the hotel. However now there are many options at LAS, including Lyft and Uber.

Finding the area for pick-up was no easy task, as at the time it was not well identified. You could see a few signs here and there but you would have to do a bit guessing and hope you were getting out the right door, or crossing the right walk-bridge.

After finding the area, I requested a ride ( I did not want to have a driver waiting as I did not know how long it would take me to find the correct place to be picked up at). After a few minutes of waiting (the cars wait outside the airport so they have to drive quite a bit to come pick you up).

When the driver picked us up I knew my fare estimate would be around 10-12 usd as my hotel was just a mile away. However the ride was quite long and the driver said he was avoiding traffic, which can build up on the strip rather fast and be a bit slow at times. It took almost 30 minutes to get to the hotel, and at that moment I knew something was not right. The hotel entrance for ridesharing services at the Linq is towards the back of the hotel which means the driver would never have to get on the strip.

And I was right, as soon as we got dropped off I received a bill for $22 usd. As it was late and needed to take a bit of a walk just to get to the reception (I will avoid the Linq next time) I choose to email Lyft the next day.

The next morning after veryfing the route we had taken against the fastest one, I sent an email to customer service to have them look into the matter. The reply did not take long, and just a few hours later I was given an adjustment from $22 to $15. Not what the estimate had been when I requested the vehicle the night before, but still cheaper and more reasonable than what I had been charged.

It is always important to get your numbers together when using any service (Lyft, Uber, etc) as it is very easy to be taken advantage off by drivers with not good intentions. I have used lyft several times and I had never had nor have had this issue happen again. Always contact Customer Service as soon as you can and give them whatever information you can provide so they can look into it. Customers can ask the driver to take a different route than the one the drivers’ app provides, so it is important to know that it can be misused to obtain a better and more expensive fare from the customer.

United Airlines 787 Review

On August 7th, I flew to Auckland from Dallas via San Francisco. Back in May I was informed that Air New Zealand had cancelled my outbound flight from Houston to Aukland, and after talking it out with Orbitz I was able to re-route through San Francisco and fly United Airlines’ 787.

I had flown such plane with them the year before to London from Houston, and it was a great experience, so I was excited to fly 13 hours in the same kind of plane.

Boarding began a few minutes late, and it was a bit confusing as our gate had to separate counters with two different doors leading to the same gate. People had no idea who was supposed to go through which one, and the agents were not very helpful in clarifying either.

As soon as we boarded the plane I began to notice that my prior expectation for the flight were wrong and way off. This was in no way to be the experience I had had the year before. After putting away the carry on and sitting down, I discovered that the touchscreen was not working properly.

After trying for awhile I was able to select a movie and get ready for departure. This is were things got a bit weird. The movie began to show a black screen as if it was about to start but then it would kick me right back into the home screen. I tried a few movies and it did the same thing. At first I thought that perhaps they were blocking it somehow so people could just get ready to take off, however I could see that there were other people watching shows or movies, just not the ones I had tried.

The plane took off and I tried again, same issue. Then to make matters worse my screen turned off and it would not start again. It was at this time that my travel companion and I decided to switch seats to Economy Plus to watch the movie and eat before going back to our original seats and sleep. Nonetheless as soon as we sat a flight attendant came by  and said that if we wanted to seat here we needed to pay. I explained that our screens were not working and he had a simple solution “move to another set of seats in regular economy”.

He sent us to the very far back of the plane and the movies still did not work, it was then that we discovered that several movies and shows were not working for anyone, and the FAs had no reason to offer why.

We returned to our seats to wait for dinner and then figure out what to do. It was then that the couple behind us asked another FA about the issue and he offered to reset their screens, something that then he did for us as well. The screens began to work again, and now we knew that we had to just keep looking until we could find a show or movie that actually worked.

The rest of the flight was just ok. The seats are so worn out that they are not comfortable at all. Dinner was actually just edible, but they do offer free beer, which helped speed up the process to fall asleep. Breakfast was actually pretty good and it was served about an hour and half before landing, which allowed us to freshen up before touching down.

It was a very disappointing flight overall, and it made me regret not having taken the flight from LA to Auckland rather that this one, such flight would have been operated by Air New Zealand, which later on I found out would have been a way better option to take.