American Airlines is Paying Me $500 to Fly on Their Inaugural 787 Flight. Here’s How.

When the inaugural Boeing 787 flight for American Airlines was announced several months ago, I was admittedly hesitant in buying a ticket. To be honest, I’m not one to really care to need to fly an inaugural flight, so I didn’t get a ticket…at first. Then, a few weeks ago, I sort of had this revelation that “you only live once” and that I’d regret not doing it, so I decided to spend 30,000 AAnytime award miles to secure a seat from Dallas to Chicago on the inaugural flight, and then from Chicago to Charlottesville, VA, where I’d be leaving my car. I gasped at the thought of spending so many miles on this experience, but because one-way cash tickets were in the $500+ range, I decided it was worth it. Further influencing me was the invitation to a party of sorts the night before celebrating the flight, hosted by American, so I wanted to be all-in. After securing a coach seat – a middle seat in Main Cabin Extra (all that was left), I set an alert on ExpertFlyer to search for an AAnytime First Class seat, just in case one would open up, I wanted to grab it (again…you only live once).

This weekend while in Denver, my phone buzzed with an alert indicating at least one “F” seat had opened up. My lucky day!

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Since I was sitting at my computer at the time, as soon as the notification came in, I was on the phone with the Executive Platinum desk, re-booking my ticket into First. Between the time of notification, and the agent re-issuing the ticket, it was probably no more than a two minute span, so to say I was quick into getting this done was an understatement.

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Interestingly, I received a call today yesterday from American’s revenue management department alerting me to an issue. While I had in fact re-booked my ticket into First Class, and everything was “legal” as far as the booking goes, apparently that was only because the seats that I had secured were accidentally canceled from someone else’s reservation inadvertently by an American employee some days before. So, it was an accident by AA that the seats were released. The gal on the phone with me was more than apologetic, and asked if I’d be willing to move back into economy, which I gladly said I would considering the error. She was so nice, she even was able to secure me an aisle Main Cabin Extra seat that was blocked for airport control.

For the trouble, she of course refunded me the extra miles I used to book into First, but also offered a $500 transportation voucher for use on a future AA flight. That was so kind and generous! Keep in mind, I did not prompt this offer at all, and was more than happy to move back into economy anyways, though she insisted for the trouble that she issue me some compensation. I didn’t refuse, and by the end of the call was $500 richer.

So…fast forward about 3 hours, the same agent called me back to say that someone completely different had to cancel a trip to Beijing, and that they’d no longer need his seat on the inaugural flight to Chicago. She offered me his seat, though did tell me that she’d have to void the $500 voucher she issued just hours before. Alternatively, I could have kept my coach seat and the $500 and walked-away, which is exactly what I did.

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So, what did I gain from this? I was moved from a crappy middle seat to a bulkhead aisle seat, my favorite…and a $500 voucher. What did I lose from this? A First Class seat. For a 2 hour flight, no problem!

In the end, I came out ahead, and by no fault or push from my own…I’m getting paid $500 to fly on American’s inaugural 787 flight. Not many other people can say that, I guess!

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  1. rjburnsva says

    It seems to me that AA should have let you keep the $500 voucher and moved you up to first class when the second seat opened up. When they asked you to downgrade from F to Y in return for a voucher and you generously agreed to do so, that transaction is in the books. The voucher was offered and accepted. Three hours later, another seat opened up and you could have upgraded into that one. In my opinion, no need to cancel the voucher.

    Assume the shoe was on the other foot. You need to make a change to a ticket. A $200 fee plus the fare difference will be assessed. You pay the money, you get re-booked. Later that day, your schedule changes again and you need to make a second change. AA will charge you the second change fee because they are two separate transactions. It works both ways.

  2. b knopp says

    You’re experience with AA is totally different than mine. I was boarded improperly on a flight, forced to check my small bag even though there was room in the overhead bins, treated monstrously by the in flight crew, the gate agent at the arrival airport, and the “customer service” representatives to whom I spoke. I got no information about the issues and no answer to my question about my recourse to this foul treatment. The information on customer feedback is not available in the in flight magazine. The email address on the back of the boarding pass takes you to an unmonitored email. There is no human you can speak to an AA with a complaint; you must go to the website and complete a form which only allows you 1000 characters. I filed a complaint with DOT which has been accepted. The US Airways purchase of American Airlines has become known as an American merger with US Airways. Sad since US Airways was concerned with the customer experience while American seems oblivious to passengers, except those who are hearty enough to fly enough miles to warn the kind of frequent flyer status that you have. The AA crowd is trying to resuscitate an old airline that failed because of its bad policies. The merger resulted in less competition between airports unfortunately. As a result of no competition, the airline can treat customers contemptuously and suffer no consequences. Jaimie, they offered you $500. The offered me $25, which I refused. I will never fly American again.

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