Almost every week I travel with American Airlines and often times my flights connect via Los Angeles. The majority of times I travel through LAX I connect between regional jets (RJ) and never have to leave the American Eagle (AE) remote terminal. This is great because the American Eagle remote terminal has an Admiral’s Club and an overpriced flavorless deli if I am in need of nutrition. I have had issues with the bus dragons at American Airlines T4, so if I don’t have to leave the remote gates, I don’t! Although this week, I had no choice when a flight delay made me misconnect and I ended up having to spend the night in Los Angeles.
Normally irregular operations (IRROPS) are nothing to write about, although this week I played hotel roulette compliments of American Airlines! By the time I reached the main terminal from the AE remote gates I had already been re accommodated on the next flight at 7:30 the next morning, I asked the customer service agent for a room for the night and was sent on my way to the LAX Westin. Due to traffic congestion at the airport, it took me almost 45 minutes to an hour to reach the hotel from Terminal 4. Then when I attempted to check in, the hotel receptionist told me that American Airlines had already used all 10 of the rooms they are assigned and I would have to return to the airport an request a new hotel! I looked at the agent and asked her if she was serious, and she apologized and said yes. I honestly, just bit my lower lip and thanked her and returned to the airport. Long behold, one of the two other men who I rode over with from T4 was also on the bus, as he too was denied a room!
Back at LAX, I approached an agent and told her what had happen. She was very sweet and apologetic and she frantically started calling hotels trying to find me a room. By this point I was exhausted and ready to sleep, as it was nearly midnight and if I would have not misconnected I would have already been home and in my own bed. She finally found a hotel with rooms, called the hotel to ensure AA still had rooms available and wished me luck and apologized again for what happened. I headed to the Marriott, checked in and found myself in the comfort of a room. It was now 12:45 am and I was going to have to wake up at 6 to get back to the airport for my flight!
Never before have I ever played hotel roulette or been told the hotel I was assigned was full during IRROPS. According to the AA agent, their system said they had 10 rooms at the Westin and only 7 of them were occupied/used. Rather this be an AA, Westin, or a software failure, it was not something anyone should experience. As a traveler who is already delayed, the thing I want most is rest or to be at my final destination. Being shuffled through hotels is not what I like to think of as enjoyable.
Despite this experience, I will say I learned some valuable information. In similar events, it is ok to book your own hotel or car rental and then be reimbursed by American Airlines. Although you run the risk of not being reimbursed, the likelihood of receiving reimbursement if you save all receipts is very high. Furthermore, if you need assistance finding a room, call American Airlines reservations and they can transfer you to Tourico, who will help find the closest best deal. If you do this, you can also have it noted in your reservation what happened and this should make reimbursement easier. This fiasco took me three hours to find a hotel with a room, whereas a drive to San Diego would have only taken two! Like I said, hotel roulette is not something I want to play in the future, so at least I now know I can rent a car and expense it back, or pay for my own hotel in the event the one I am sent to is full. But in the future, during IRROPS I am driving, as this is a more viable option in close markets (such as LAX-SAN, DFW-AUS, ORD-MKE, etc).