This is 40 - Going Home (Day 6.5)

Tuesday, May 5th

The trip home is its own story.  Mostly because it's been almost two weeks since the flight and I'm still pretty angry about the whole thing.  Well, I'm not as angry as I was.  It has been almost two weeks.  I shouldn't still be angry at what happened.  My remnant anger is at the resolution...or lack thereof.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had used miles to travel First Class to Hawaii.  I had saved them up for almost 15 years and had finally decided to use them for a purpose.  I don't normally fly First Class.  I mean, I travel a lot, but I try to go as inexpensively as I can because I travel a lot.  So First Class isn't in the budget.  This was a birthday trip that was created based on flying First Class to Hawaii.

This is what I was leaving.  I didn't want to leave...
Fast forward to my flight home.

Well, fast forward to the start of this journey.  And this journey actually started the night before.  We were up late enough that I could check into my flight 24 hours in advance.  So I did.  Something was slightly off and I didn't get a boarding pass.  I didn't worry.

The next morning, I tried again to check in and get a boarding pass.  I was checked in, Seat 4F.  But I couldn't get a boarding pass.  It wasn't a huge deal.  I thought maybe Maui didn't have mobile boarding availability.

I spent the last full day in Lahaina.  First some shopping, then lounging.  It was actually a long day of waiting for the flight.  I spent the last hour of my time at one of the hotel's restaurants for Happy Hour.  I didn't eat (or drink) much, because I knew I'd have dinner or breakfast on the flight.  Or maybe a nibble at the airport.

You see where this is going, right??

At the airport, the first step is to put your checked luggage through an agriculture scanner.  There are items you can't bring home with you.  I'm honestly not sure what these items are.  I wasn't entirely paying attention.  I mean, I wasn't bringing anything home with me (other than some jewelry), so it didn't matter.

Next, I found the American Airlines/US Airways counter.  I didn't have a huge line to stand in because I could slide on in through the Priority counter.  I used the kiosk and was ready to hand over my checked luggage (I still had enough sunscreen left over that I didn't want to try to carry on the suitcase).  It was around this time that it happened.

The Gate Agent took my suitcase and asked for my boarding passes, which were being printed out at that very moment in the kiosk.  In a hushed voice, she began speaking.

"I'm so sorry, but you've been downgraded from First Class on the flight to Phoenix."

Wait.  What??

The Gate Agent was very apologetic.  Very apologetic.  I asked multiple times how I could have had a specific seat not 12 hours ago, but now I didn't.  And she couldn't answer me.  Or wouldn't.  Same thing.

"I've put you in an aisle seat in a row by yourself and have instructed no one to be moved there."

Yeah, I'm not an Aisle Seat Girl.  So that almost made me angrier.  Look at my profile, airline.  But I didn't yell or cause a scene.  Cause that just isn't something that needs to be done.  It was very apparent she couldn't do anything more.  And she didn't want me there any longer.

So I went through security.  Stewing the entire time.  I walked through the airport in a haze, not thinking about grabbing last minute trinkets or grabbing a sandwich for the road.  I had a purpose.  I needed to talk to the other Gate Agent.  The one at the actual gate.  She would be the one to explain there had been a horrible mistake.

There had not been a horrible mistake.  She said the same thing as the woman at the counter had said.  Somehow, I had been downgraded.  And there was nothing anyone could do.

Now I know, grand scheme of things, this is not the worst possible scenario.  I am completely aware that I am making a fuss about something that doesn't need to be fussed over.  But this was also the Red Eye flight back to Phoenix.  The one flight I was the most excited about flying in First Class.  A Red Eye in Coach was going to suck heartily.  First Class would suck slightly less.

I had barely sat at the gate and had already tweeted out to American Airlines and US Airways.  It was a long shot, but it was something.  Funny enough, American responded back within a few minutes (which I 100% appreciate, even though there was nothing they could do).  Two weeks later, I still haven't heard from US Airways.  Whatever.

I was still able to board Priority due to Gold Status on American.  So I found my aisle seat and waited.  It wasn't a bad spot to be, I guess.  But it wasn't good either.  Oh, I could see the First Class seats and was seated right next to the lavatory.  Awesome.

Hello, First Class!!  I can see you!!
As the boarding continued, I kept my eye out for people who may have taken over my row.  Mostly, I wanted to make sure the window seat stayed empty.  And it did.  When the Flight Attendant came over the loud speaker and said the cabin doors were closed, I slid over to the window, trying to get comfortable.

Once I moved over, the folks on the other end of the aisle looked over and realized I had a full row to myself.  The old lady in the middle seat made the "I'm going to move over" motion when the Flight Attendant came by in a flurry.

"Oh, no.  I mean, there was a...she got downgraded...and...ummm..."

I looked over and told the woman she could sit in the aisle seat on my side.  The Flight Attendant was very concerned about this.  "Are you sure??"  Well, if I didn't let the old lady move, then I was the asshole, not the Flight Attendant.  And I wasn't going to try and full on sprawl out over three seats.  So fine.  I'm the better person.

Thank god we are able to turn on headphones before we are at however many thousand feet.  I turned on some random podcast and I have no memory of takeoff.  The flight was five-ish hours long and I think I slept three of them.  Which worked for me.

I never got a drink.  I never even talked to anyone.  I guess in a way, it ended up being the best flight ever.

As I was disembarking the plane, the Flight Attendant said, "Oh, we tried to give you a glass of wine, but you were out cold."  Obviously, the Flight Attendant didn't know me well enough to know to wake me up for wine.  Honestly, I thought that was the number one listing in my American Airlines Profile.  "Will drink all of the wine.  Make sure to wake her up if sleeping during Wine Time."

The flight from Phoenix to Chicago was uneventful.  I was in First Class on this one.  So I guess I win.

But the story doesn't entirely stop there.

I waited until the day after I returned home to contact American.  Jet lag (plus a Red Eye flight) hit me fiercely on the day I returned home.  I took one nap around 3p, another around 5p and fell asleep for good around 8p.  I was in no condition to e-mail anyone.

On Wednesday morning, I sent a message to American.  I explained the situation.  All of the situations.  From the kid kicking my seat on the first flight, to the screaming baby on the second, to the downgrade on the third.  And I asked for not only the difference between First Class and Coach in miles (which should be expected), but I also asked for a Cash Credit for a future flight and I asked for all of my miles for the return leg of the trip to be refunded.  And then I waited.

I did receive an e-mail the next day.  American Airlines was very apologetic about everything, but still couldn't/wouldn't explain what happened.  They also very much denied my request for a future credit or a complete refund of the return trip.  I get that, I guess.  But I'm not thrilled with the outcome.

I'm also not thrilled with the fact that I still haven't received a refund on the difference between the First Class/Coach mileage.  I reached out again to American again and they're "looking into" where they stand on everything.  Apparently this takes time??

Let's be honest, I'm not going to use these miles anytime soon.  But I used a number of miles to get to and from Hawaii and another chunk'll see later this year.  "This is 40" isn't over.  We have a whole year of celebration to experience.  But I digress.  I just want the miles back in my account so I can put this whole thing behind me.

The trip to Hawaii ended with a bit of a disappointment, but I vowed to not let the bummer of the flight wreck the entire trip.  I promise, I only have one more post coming about Hawaii.  And it'll be a much more fun one.


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