Travel Tales / Travel Tips

Why It Never Hurts To Call And Always Pays To Be Nice

This post is NOT sponsored by American Airlines.  If anyone at American would like to pay me, I will gladly accept your money and remove this sentence.

This post is NOT sponsored by American Airlines. If anyone at American is reading this and would like to pay me, I will gladly accept your money and remove this sentence.

I have to start by thanking American Airlines AAdvantage customer service for remaining awesome in the era of mediocre to abysmal phone service.  We finally finished up our last minute to-dos and are ready to set off around the world, so I went online to book our tickets.  Yes, I procrastinated until within 48 hours to purchase a one way international ticket, but I prefer to think of it with a c’est la vie or carpe diem mentality instead.  And since we’re flexible enough to fly out of any airport between North Carolina and New York, we were able to shop around for a decent deal on the one ticket we needed to pay for.

I should probably mention here that due to a snafu in miles posting to my husband’s AAdvantage account, we needed to purchase his ticket with cash and mine with miles.  So our epic adventure of round-the-world togetherness begins with us on separate planes for 15+ hours.

After we found a good deal on the first ticket, I needed to find a way to use my miles to get from the greater New York City area to Tokyo Narita International Airport.  There were fantastic options on Thursday and Friday that would’ve matched up with my husband’s flight, but those same flights don’t run on Saturday.  I was looking at an overnight layover in Dallas and arriving nearly 24 hours after my husband. Time to get on the phone!

I usually loathe calling customer service when I can book things fully online; too many seemingly endless wait times only to find out that they can’t help me anyways. But when you can’t get what you want online, sometimes it’s worth using your phone as an actual phone (instead of texting, taking pictures, and playing Candy Crush). So I called the AAdvantage phone number, pressed “0” over and over until I got a human being, and explained my situation. While the lovely gentleman on the other end of the phone couldn’t view any American flights beyond those I had found on the website, he did have access to the One World Alliance partners!!!

The oneworld partner airlines

The oneworld partner airlines

Cathay Pacific actually could’ve gotten me on the same flight as my husband for 35,000 miles (American saver award is 32,500), but with a nasty catch.  Due to changing planes in Hong Kong, and then “backtracking” to Tokyo, I would have to use an additional 20,000 miles because I would essentially be buying a one-way within Asia flight.  It’s worth an extra 2,500 miles to me to be on the same flights as my husband, but not 20,000.  Sorry sweetie, I won’t put a price on our love, but apparently I have a mileage cutoff.

Next, the lovely gentleman came across JAL’s (Japan Airlines) options.  Earlier in the day, when I spoke with another very helpful lady at AAdvantage to look at Friday’s options, she had found no seats on JAL.  I sort of assumed that they probably didn’t have frequent flier seats available on such short notice and forgot about them as an option.  And then, lovely gentleman on the phone at 11:52pm, says “JAL has a nonstop flight from JFK at 9:30am AND another one at 1:15pm.”

Are you kidding me?  I went from 39 hours and 10 minutes of travel time, with an overnight layover in Dallas, to a direct 14-hour flight on an airline I’ve never flown before!  IN 4 MINUTES ON THE PHONE I SAVED MYSELF 25 HOURS OF TRAVEL TIME!  I now leave JFK later than my husband, which is great for me, and arrive in Tokyo earlier, which is great for him.  In his words, “you can go figure out transportation and take out cash and do all those other things you do so well that I don’t want to do.”  It’s true, I do them well.  So while the husband gets to navigate the airport in Hong Kong solo, I will begin our Japanese adventure (the boring part in the airport) solo.

It’s not quite what we planned, but then again our original plan consisted of “lets quit our jobs, sell all our stuff, and go around the world for awhile.”  Actually, we’re two thirds of the way through that original plan!


The morals of the story (in case you missed them or stopped reading and started scrolling for something in bold):
– Call customer service if you’re not finding what you want online.
– Build up loyalty points with companies that give you good service.  Even better if they’re part of a larger partner network.
BE NICE!  If you want good service, always start out nice.  If you start out rude and obnoxious, no one will want to help you and you can’t go back to being nice.  If you start out nice, you’re more likely to get what you want from the start, and if that fails you can always resort to being rude and obnoxious to see if that works.


American Airlines in no way sponsored this post!  I honestly had such great experiences with them, twice in one day, that I felt inspired to write about their awesomeness along with a few tips on getting what you want with your frequent flier miles.


2 thoughts on “Why It Never Hurts To Call And Always Pays To Be Nice

  1. Enjoying your humor and tongue-in-cheekiness! Lots of great advice too that would certainly help prevent trial and error anxiety…loved the story and pic in the other post about your deciding to go home in a suitcase as a toddler. 😀


  2. Nice post. I got a good impression when calling frequet flyer programms so far. topbonsu (Air Berlin), Miles & More (Lufthansa) and Executive Club (British Airways) all offered a nice experience on phone.

    The only thing that annoys me is that you always have to press “zero” just to get into a long queue afterwards…


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