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    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thank, Jason. I share your preferences. I don’t get why airlines and internet providers have our hands tied. I’d love to see some disruption in both industries. It’s already happening with TV. Let’s hope some braniacs out there are developing strategies.

  1. Sad to hear that they “discriminate” and treat their customer so differently. We are all humans and makes mistakes in reservation sometimes.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I don’t understand the airline industry at all. The whole model needs a change. Aside from international flights, I think we’d prefer slow travel in a camper at this point.

  2. Crazy read!

    My fiancée and I don’t really fly a lot, and don’t have any type of Travel Reward plan set up via Credit Cards.

    We may need some future advice though because I think we’re close to sealing our wedding date in the Caribbean this year!

    I think you have to fly there right??????????

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Sean! Our rewards were through the airline just from flying miles. They weren’t tied to a credit card. We’ve never done any credit card hacking but we’re having a crazy thought about paying for our house build on credit cards. Gosh, that would be so complicated — which is why we never got into hacking. It’s one more project to have to track (and research).

      However, I have two recommendations for you to check out: clubthrifty.com and Travelmiles101.com. The latter has a free course I have not taken, but I’ve heard it’s a great place to start. And Holly over at Club Thrifty really knows her stuff.

  3. Hi Mrs. Groovy,

    Have seen you around, but first time on your blog.

    Dealing with airline customer service is not for the faint of heart, given how they nickle and dime us on every little thing. I envy your patience and persistence.

    Northern Idaho and Montana are some of the most beautiful places I have visited. Coeur’ d Alene is a beautiful little town, maybe stay at the Resort?

    Have a great and fun trip!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Dave. Just FYI I don’t do any travel card hacking. These points were from AA’s own program. You sign up for free and they issue you points based on the mileage of flights you take. We used them for our Montana trip but the time before that was around 3 years ago.

  4. Jess

    I wouldn’t call this a travel hack or brag about it. You whined and lied over and over to get your way. Maybe the fees were unreasonable, but it sounds like you were putting the poor customer service people through hell. They have to follow policy and do their jobs too. All respect for this blog is now gone.

    • In defence of Mrs Groovy, I am part way through a visit to the USA and wanted to extend my stay here.

      First off, change my flights home. So far I have spent 2hrs & 14mins on hold, 1 hr actual verbal contact, and have spoken to three separate sub-continent call centre drones and had three different reasons (one from each) why I can’t change my flights.

      I have had a gutsfull of airline ‘rules’ and the non-English speaking schelps they contract to do their dirty work.

      If whining, lying, and other potentially unsavoury behaviour gets you what you want with these bastards (the airlines I’m talking about) then so be it.

      My experience tells me that when dealing with companies who preach customer service yardy yardy ya, and then serve up the complete opposite, there are no civilised rules of engagement. Do what ya gotta do I say.

      Thumbs up to you Mrs Groovy.

      • Mrs. Groovy

        It’s nice to have friends — thank you Martin. I think Jess got indignant without taking into account that I did not, in any way, put those customer service people through hell. In fact, I was so pleasant and so thankful, that’s what kept them on the line. And the fact that they DID let me change the flights only proves that the gatekeepers on the front lines are trained to say “no, no, no” while it’s within the power of their superiors to say “yes, yes, yes.” Given the latest string of bad behavior by the airlines i.e. dragging a man off a flight, shoving pregnant mothers, etc. there’s very few people with empathy for their airlines or respect for their “policies.”

        • Mrs. Groovy

          Do what you gotta do.

          Sheesh, for someone who has no respect for our blog you sure have a vested interest in it. Perhaps you should start a blog of your own since you have strong opinions. I’ll be your first subscriber.

          • Jess

            I was interested, then I came across that post. Then I just returned to see if you had responded. There are very few things in this world I have strong opinions on, but lying to get your way is definitely one of them.

            I’ve often thought about creating a blog. But for now I’ll just continue reading everyone else’s, I follow a lot of them. I wish yours the best though, I do get enjoyment out of reading blogs in my down time and it does sound as if many others enjoy it even if it isn’t my cup of tea.

            • Mr. Groovy

              Hey, Jess. I agree with your sentiment. I don’t like lying either. And neither does Mrs. G. But being ethical in this case would have meant my parents eating $1,000 for an innocent mistake. If American Airlines charged $10 for a change fee, Mrs. G would have never gotten involved. But American Airlines was going to charge $200 per passenger just to move the itinerary a week sooner. So, yes, Mrs. G’s lying, and my approval of that lying, was hypocritical. My only justification for our actions is that American Airlines was being obnoxious. Does it really cost them $200 to change a passenger’s flight? Thanks for reiterating your point, Jess. You’re not wrong. But to paraphrase Barry Goldwater, “Extremism in the defense of virtue is often a vice.”

  5. So glad you finally succeeded in getting those fees waived, but wow what a story! I can understand the bottle of wine after.

    Membership has its privileges…or so they say. I hope everything works out great for your trip!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Amy! It was a good excuse to drink wine, anyway.

      What’s interesting now is that we know our dates can be flexible for our MT trip. I don’t want to get crazy making unlimited changes but as we do our research we may find a good reason for adjusting.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, FS! I think I mentioned previously that had I been championing for myself, I probably would have given up and failed.

  6. I would say you were persistent and lucky Mrs. Groovy! Sometimes, airlines don’t budge and I have had to pay the change fee grudgingly.

    Being put on hold for a long time and getting hung up on is also a common phenomenon here especially if you are not a frequent flyer partner.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I know I had a bit of luck but I think I would have kept calling until I got someone helpful. I’d like to believe I wasn’t hung up on but rather, I was disconnected due to a glitch. You’re probably right, Michael, but I’m trying not to be cynical.

  7. Hahahaha. I love the stories you told the reps. I imagine you on the phone getting more creative and cooking up ever more dire circumstances with each subsequent phone call. Good for you for not taking no for an answer!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Mrs. BITA. As long as I had them on the phone I was going to crank out stories, each more creative than the previous one. You’re right!

  8. Good work Mrs G. All I can say is that airlines must rate at the absolute bottom for customer service in the USA. We suffer here in Oz mostly with the budget airlines like JetScum, sorry, JetStar who I will never fly with again, but the full service airlines seem to do a reasonable job.

    I’m heading your way later in the month, well Denver anyway, with Qantas to LA and then with your friends at AA to Denver.

    Hopefully I will make it there without threats of arrest or physical violence being offered to make the trip even more unforgettable.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Hah! JetScum, I love it. We had a name for US Airways which merged with AA — Useless Airways.

      Have you ever been to Denver before? We were only there once briefly, for a day, before heading off to the Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a beautiful city with a mountainous backdrop. It might be worth being dragged off a plane as long as you don’t get too hurt. #lawsuit!

  9. I’m in the Southwest camp too. Over the last few years, we have more and more options to fly Southwest from our local airport and have been happy each time we’ve flown with them.

    I’m jealous you guys get to go hang out with Ms. Montana in Glacier! We were there a couple of years ago (pre-blog, so unfortunately no visit with Ms. Montana). It is soooo incredibly beautiful there. Enjoy the trip! 🙂

    • Mrs. Groovy

      We were in Montana pre-blog but not in that area. We went to Bozeman, Billings and Red Lodge. That’s when we were searching for our 20 acres and really thought we could swing 2 homes. #WeWereIdiots !!!

      We’re looking forward to meeting Ms. Montana and her family.

  10. Don’t you just want to slap them upside the head for their ridiculous rules? “I’m sorry, ma’am. If you call this customer service number you’ll get crappy service, but if you call this number you’ll get the good service. Which would you prefer?”

    You will LOVE GNP, and Spokane, and Coeur D’Alene. They are all so beautiful. 🙂

    • Mrs. Groovy

      It’s almost like a Saturday Night Live skit!

      I’ve been wondering if Spokane is worth spending some time in. Sounds like maybe that’s a yes. We may change our dates a little (being that we can do that for free with award points, LOL). Thanks for stopping by!

      • I think you should. When we drove through in 2015, it was right smack in the middle of the forest fires, so we hustled it through and didn’t stop, but it looked great! I have to say though that MT is my fave. 🙂

        • Mrs. Groovy

          So glad you stopped by our blog for the first time, Mr. ATM!

          We actually made the trip at the end of September and the weather didn’t cooperate in Coeur d’Alene. I was psyching myself up to try zip lining for the first time but it was windy, rainy, and a little too cold.

          We only spent an afternoon and evening in Spokane before we flew home the next morning. We walked around Riverfront Park and had dinner at Elk Public House, a restaurant Guy Fieri’s been to on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. We had an interesting conversation with our waitress, who relocated with her husband to start a marijuana business. Later we went to Atticus Coffee and had fun talking with a few locals. There was another coffee shop we wanted to try, which was packed! They were holding church there that evening.

  11. $1200 is SO ridiculous for a change like that. It’s no wonder everyone is pissed off at the airline industry! We have over 500,000 AA miles to use (and I think we might copy your intinerary – it sounds awesome!) I’ll need to read about all the ways to try to book their tickets because it does sound difficult. That’s why we love Southwest – incredibly easy, no fees. Glad you got that fee refunded!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Pissed is another good word!

      Can you cash those miles out, Vicki? Don’t they have a use or lose policy if you don’t redeem them by a certain date?

      Another one for Southwest! I’ll look into SW for future trips, flying out of Raleigh, although I just took a quick look at Raleigh to Spokane. They’ve got nothing direct and maybe one 1-stop. The rest are 2 and 3 stops.

  12. Gotta love the airlines in general and customer service reps in particular. I’m glad it worked out that you were able to help your family.
    This is one of the reasons we stick with Southwest. They’re not perfect by any means, but their rewards system is pretty simple.
    With CSRs in general, if I reach one who clearly doesn’t care or doesn’t have two neurons firing to understand the problem, I’ll hang up and call back to talk to someone else. It’s worth the time on hold to be able to deal with someone of a higher caliber.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Julie. I think we’ll have better options available with Southwest when we move to the Raleigh area.

      I do that too — hang up, call back, and talk to someone else. In this situation I had to go back to the beginning and tell the entire story to the 2nd rep all over again. I was prepared to hang up if I got someone nasty or indifferent.

  13. It’s tough because honest mistakes DO have an impact on airlines, so I get the charge for making changes after the fact, but it’s probably best to make sure that customers are happy than to be a stickler for the rules. I don’t blame you for fake crying though – sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Yes, 2.9 billion dollars of impact in change fees! I understand they can’t have their customer service reps spending umpteen hours on the phone handling schedule changes. But at least one free change should be allowed if it’s not at the last minute. It can even be set up so that a change can only be made online. I agree that they need to figure out a way to make customers happy. People are getting disgusted.

      Thanks for stopping by, DC!

  14. Once, I booked flights for me and my husband and I didn’t notice it until right before the trip, but I had booked them BOTH under my name. Luckily, we used points because Southwest said they wouldn’t be able to change the name unless I paid in points. I don’t get why it makes a difference?

    • Mrs. Groovy

      That must have been quite unnerving, Michelle. That’s just nuts. The only thing I can think of based on my experience with AA is that the customer service departments for the awards programs are not as bombarded with calls as the general customer service departments. But I’m grasping at straws.

      Thanks for your comment — I appreciate you stopping by!

  15. Airlines can be brutal with ridiculous fees. I’m glad you were able to cry your way out of your mother-in-law’s dilemma, but it shouldn’t have to come to that. Glad to hear things are going smoother planning your upcoming trip…hope it’s a great one!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Brutal’s a good word for it. I’m very glad I could help too, Gary. Thanks for the good wishes for the trip.

  16. Airlines = Dentist. Two of my least favorite things to deal with. Its one of the main reason we try and fly Southwest. If you can can past their open seating policy, they have no bag fees, or change fees.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Many dental rates are based on the office’s zip code in NYC. I learned that about 6 dentists ago, as mine at the time was off Fifth Avenue near Central Park.

      I need to check Southwest more frequently. Do you make sure you get to the airport extremely early? My biggest fear about not having a seat assignment would be getting bumped if they over book.

  17. Great story! You can often get different deals, discounts, or refunds from different customer service agents, so it can be really frustrating dealing with the ones that are so inflexible. I’ve resorted to fake crying [on the phone] with customer service too, so I can definitely relate. Thanks for sharing – makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only one! 🙂

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Jen, you’re a soul-sister! No, you’re not the only fake-cryer.

      In some situations it’s just best to hang up and keep trying until you get someone willing to help. Like if you’re trying to negotiate a better rate on cable. I think many customer service reps are given the authority to be flexible. It’s just a matter of how you approach them and what information you’ve lined up to make your case.

  18. It’s funny what a difference you get from companies if you’re one of their frequent travelers. I recently had a horribly delayed and redirect business trip on my airline of choice. I wrote them a nice letter and they gave me some miles for my troubles. A quick Google shows they don’t do this for normal customers usually. It’s more for high mileage folks with status, which I fit. There is an old saying in marketing. It’s cheaper to keep a customer then get a new one. Thats why you should always signups for these programs.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, FTF, that’s a good tip about how kind letters will often get you special consideration.

      I think it was easier for me to be very nice on the phone because I was fighting for someone else. I might have been more of a rude pit bull if the flights had been my own.

  19. Okay, this story bugs me. Why should you have had to lie to get decent service? It’s not like you were asking for anything special particularly, but a) charging an exorbitant amount for a simple, not last minute change should not happen b) encouraging and rewarding dishonesty should not happen. Both bug me from a fairness and an ethics POV.

    Geez. This is why we (usually) do not fly.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I hear what you’re saying Emily and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I totally agree with you IN THEORY. I don’t enjoy being dishonest. But I feel it’s warranted with the airlines. They treat customers like scum (sorry Miss Mazuma, not you!)

      Any positive opinion I may have had about airlines and their ethics changed in 2001. Mr. Groovy and I had plans with a group of family and friends to go to Las Vegas at the end of September. After 9/11 a few of us were still willing to go but some were not. So we all cancelled. We could not get a refund and the airline was downright nasty about giving us a credit. We had to dance a jig just for that — AND, we had to use the credit within 12 months.

      • Oh, I get it. I meant no criticism of you for working the system. I just hate the system that essentially punishes rule followers.

        It’s like with cable or satellite radio. Want a discount? Threaten them that you’re going to cancel to get a decent rate. Otherwise you pay 2-4 times as much. Be a “good customer” who doesn’t complain or make waves and you’re screwed.

        • Mrs. Groovy

          I didn’t think you were criticizing me but you can go ahead and do that by now anyway!

          Cable’s a great example. I just heard something too, I think from the Dave Ramsey show, about insurance. Since most people don’t question their policies when they renew they’re often not getting the best rates.

  20. A phrase I heard a lot in my car selling days comes to mind: buyers are liars. People will say things in order to get a better deal (myself included!). But why do companies make it so dang hard to business with them sometimes?

    Good job saving your MIL a $1,000 on those ridiculous fees

    • Mrs. Groovy

      What kind of lying did they tell you to do selling cars, LOL? Or is that just a myth. The one time I went car-shopping with Mr. G I freaked out. I cannot even repeat the words I used to refer to the salesperson when we left one of the dealerships.

      The major reason they make it so hard is greed. Another reason is that they can get away with it. A report came out this week on how much the airlines raked in on change fees and baggage fees in 2016. 4.2 billion on baggage and 2.9 billion on change fees (and the latter was LOWER than in 2015).

      • I wasn’t clear: car buyers are liars 🙂 As in, “my car runs perfectly!” “I serviced my car regularly!” or “the last salesman I talked to quoted me a lower price on this car!”

        Anything to get more money for their trade in, or a lower price on the car.

        • Mrs. Groovy

          You were probably clearer than my head is. It didn’t compute since car buying is kind of foreign to me. Thanks for clarifying!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Erik! The “water works” help once in a while. And I was very solicitous. I kept repeating things like – you’ll be saving a marriage, you’ll be helping me out so much, thank you for staying on the phone with me, etc.

      You have a good weekend, too!

  21. What an ordeal! Definitely good info to have for any future travel with American Airlines.

    That’s so cool that you and Mr. G are going to visit Ms. Montana! Sounds like a great trip.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thank you Mrs. G. We’re so happy we’ll see Ms. Montana. And Glacier National has been on our list for a while — plus, Idaho will be the 30th state Mr. G and I visit together.

  22. I can’t believe that you’re publically stating that you’re a liar. Lying for $$, you sound like a politician! I’m absolutely crushed. Tee Hee.

    Also, you’ll LOVE your MT trip! My wife and I made the same trip a few years back. Spokane to Glacier, but without the added bonus of spending time w Ms. Montana (you know she’ll hide once she learns you expect her to pick up garbage, right?).

    One question: will AA charge you an extra bag fee for the bag of NC garbage you’re hauling out on the flight? Better start crying again….

    • Mrs. Groovy

      We’re very excited. You know how much we love MT and we’ve never been to that part of the state before.

      Ms. Montana’s a real trouper! I think Mr. G can convince her to don the vest.

      Of course AA would charge for the litter. We may send it ahead! No crying on this trip.

  23. Great advice. The change fees and arbitrary rules are ridiculous. We are fortunate that Southwest offers a lot of direct or at least simple flights to places we visit frequently. Their change and cancellation policies are logical and fair, everything is so much easier, and the employees seem to be happy.
    Glacier and the rest of that area is incredible. Have fun.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Mr. G. Southwest has a terminal in Charlotte but we’ve never found any flights that worked for us. And for this trip we’re paying around $75 in total to use our miles. I forget what the full flight cost would have been. Close to $600 each I believe.

      “Arbitrary” is what gets me the most. Soon we’ll be paying for using bathrooms. How will people store porta potties in the overhead bins to avoid the charge?

  24. Wait, what?!?! We have no trash here. 😉 So you might want to inquire on the charge for an extra checked bag. 😉

    But I’m SO excited your coming to visit! Even if I have to don a orange vest and trash poker. If we hike in GNP and I will pick up every single piece of trash I see, HA! There will be none. We have trained the bears to eat the tourists that litter….at least that’s what the signs say. =)

    • Mrs. Groovy

      And we are very excited to be meeting up with you!

      Mr. G will get an extra vest or you can wear his. Perhaps we should ship a box of litter. It’s cheaper than paying for a checked bag.

  25. Good for you!! Why do they have to complicate the simplest transaction. If the seats are available on the other flight it shouldn’t cost anything to change. It’s the touch of a few buttons for them. I understand last minute would incur a charge but not something so far out! The insanity!!! People often come on the plane asking me questions about these things and I have no idea how that side works. I hope you get a better flight for your trip and I’m soooo jealous you’re going to start at The Montanas!!! So fun!!!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks for sharing your opinion, Miss M. It means a lot coming from the friendliest flight attendant on the planet!

      Exactly! They’re making their wage no matter what buttons they press so why the fuss? I can see putting a limit on changes but this was ridiculous. There was plenty of time to sell out the flight.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Mrs. PP. I was glad to help my family out. Turns out they ran into trouble with the return flight, ended up renting a car and staying in a hotel overnight so they wracked up additional expenses anyway but I can’t imagine that on top of $1K.