Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
I can not even begin to tell you the number of times I have had folks tell me they are fed up with whatever (be it Delta or another airline) and they tell me that the simple solution is to always book 1st class. That sounds good at first glance and has the mental impact of just stopping the conversation – after all unless you can always book and fly 1st it is hard to challenge that statement. But you really should and I will show you why.
My wife this past week was flying AA 1st class. I started the year with well over 1 million dis-Advantage miles and have to get rid of them. Points, unlike some fine wines, do not age well. These points have been working well for hops here and there and even I enjoyed some time on AA recently coming back from the soaked PGA near LAX. But what if things start to go wrong with your trip? Will your 1st class ticket help you? Not likely.
First off if you have not looked lately AA domestic award space lately I can tell you it is almost non-existent at low levels. I was smart and did book my wife at low level but it required 2 connections rather than just one. Same Day Change was not an option because finding low level space is just about never going to happen (yes I really tried).
But you see the weather was not the greatest last Saturday and by the time my wife’s first flight was ready to depart there was no aircraft at the gate. The first connection was tight but even with the updated delay AA would do nothing to help over the phone. AA on twitter was worthless and simply DMed me the normal contact number to call. Thanks. A lot. For nothing AA. I doubt I would have gotten that kind of service as an elite – see my point?
As the delays rolled and got worse and worse, even on a 1st class booked ticket, my wife was 3 minutes outside of the official “legal” connection in Chicago. Both the front-line phone reps and the supervisors would do nothing at all to help. If this had been Delta, holding elite status, I know in my heart they would have worked with me either via twitter or over the phone. If you need a rule bent by just a little status trumps your 1st class ticket any day!
By the time my wife finally got in the air the AA computers updated the delay yet again and she would have 8 minutes to make her connection in Chicago. Thankfully I was not in the air and could call and now that it was clearly impossible to make the flight the AA phone rep was willing to make the change to the flight.
Now I know some are saying all 1st class tickets are not created equal. Yes I know that and many tickets, like award tickets, have just as many restrictions as coach tickets do. Heck some 1st class tickets are even Y-UPs that is, a coach ticket that is instantly digitally “upgraded” to 1st class (most don’t know this because the ticket just says 1st class and whatever alphabet fare code).
But that is my point and the point of today’s rookie post. A 1st class ticket is not a “ticket to paradise”. It does not fix everything that can go wrong and it clearly does not give you any wiggle room for an agent to do something out of the ordinary to take care of you. This is why status matters so much no matter what class of service you are flying and need help from an airline. Always keep that in mind! – René