Bad PR for American, but Shouldn’t Capital One Get Some Blame Too?

The Chicago Tribune‘s “What’s Your Problem” column comes up empty trying to help some Haitian aid workers who were forced to overnight in Miami and pick up hotel costs because of an American Airlines schedule change.

    [T]he rooms are expected to cost about $450, money the volunteers had hoped to spend to help sick Haitian children.

    “It’s hard, because all of us keep putting our money in, and we’re like, man, this could go to a much better purpose,” Walsh said. “That would be a lot of X-rays and a lot of lab work.”

Wow, sick kids. And how do American’s PR geniuses respond to the newspaper?

    An airline spokeswoman told the Problem Solver that the company’s policy is to refuse to distribute hotel vouchers in case of canceled or rescheduled flights.

    “That’s just the way it is,” said Mary Frances Fagan. “That’s our policy.”

Doesn’t this article cost American more than the $450 in hotel costs?

But here’s something interesting buried in the piece:

    American Airlines informed Walsh’s travel agent, in this case Capital One, of the change in schedule weeks ago, and the travel agent said that was OK.

If Capital One was the travel agent, I assume they were redeeming points accumulated with Capital One credit cards to pay for the flights.

Shouldn’t Capital One be taking some of the heat here? They said the change was fine instead of finding better flights for their customers.

Admittedly it isn’t easy to get from most cities to Port-au-Prince without an overnight. There are early morning flights from JFK, Montreal, and Miami. There’s a second morning Miami flight, but the earliest Chicago-Miami flight would generate a connection of just a couple minutes.

Still, one might route the aid workers from Chicago to Miami to Santo Domingo and then on to Port-au-Prince on Air Cairibes. That should avoid the overnight. At least that’s an option that a more charitable Capital One might make available, even if it’s a more expensive redemption for them.

And couldn’t the muckraking ‘fix your problem’ columnist just have had the paper cough up the $450? I mean, kids and x-rays are at stake after all.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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