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Airline reservation

Hi,
As to be expected our airline reservations with American Airlines to Italy in April/May have changed a few times since we booked them last year. They were changed again yesterday. I spent close to two hours trying to get the reservation settled last night. After waiting for a call back for four hours earlier in the day, the AA agent put me on hold and then we were disconnected. Before we were disconnected she mentioned her concern for our short connection time in Rome at the outset of our trip. The second agent put me on hold numerous times before finally making the change to the last leg of our flight home that had disappeared from the booking. Our current scheduling shows us arriving in Rome at 8 am and departing for Palermo from FCO at 9:15 am. I am concerned that this is not enough time to clear immigration and make the connecting flight to Palermo. I asked that flight to be changed without success event though there are subsequent flights to Palermo that day that they could have booked us on. Also our return flight from Naples to RNO via DFW has a connection time of 1 1/2 hours at DFW. Again is that enough time to clear customs and immigration? Am I right to be concerned on these two flights? Should I try to bother to change them or just assume that those flights are going to get changed again in the next 2 months? What would you suggest? So frustrating.

Posted by
1804 posts

Mary, I feel your pain.

I have had better success in my conversations with AA when I have checked out the possibilities online on their website before I call (have had to do this multiple times). They don’t seem to see options I can’t so if I start out with a suggestion of what would work for me (once they have their screen pulled up and ready), so far it has always worked. For some flights, I can change them myself online very easily via the Manage Trip screen. But not sure if this would work for legs like Rome to Palermo. An hour fifteen sounds short in Rome to me, as well, but I don’t have much experience there.

One and a half hours at DFW for that change might be tight. It is doable depending on what flights have arrived and if yours is on time, especially without checked luggage. If you have no other good options (no later flights that day to Reno) I would probably try it. I haven’t flown into DFW internationally since December, but my Global Entry got me in fast and my friends without were only 5 minutes behind me. The longest wait was for luggage to show up so we could walk through the Customs door and hand it back off again. Probably a change of terminals, though.

Posted by
13542 posts

If the flight isn't more than 20 or 30 minutes late the 90 min in DFW will work.

I can't believe the problems people are having with the American carriers I have flown literally dozens of international legs in the last two years, not one canceled, not one more than a few minutes late, not one an American carrier. So sorry.

Posted by
1739 posts

Hi,

I did have options pulled up beforehand for them. The first agent was very cooperative. She said she was tired of people yelling at her. I was being nice. Sounds like AA has messed things up for a lot of travelers. Too bad I was disconnected from the first agent. You cannot get a connection to anyone there but have to wait for a call back hours later. Then I got an agent whose English was a challenge. Didn’t make one bit of difference that I had options available to give to her. So far I have gotten them to fix the last missing leg of our return flight. And I was on the phone with her for two hours. I guess next I will try fixing that Rome to Palermo connection to a later time. The, of course, they will change the flights again. Aargh! We will be checking luggage. We always use carry on but hubby refuses to lift it into the overhead and I can’t. I’ll pack half his stuff in mine and vice versa just in case and have a small bag with some clothes and essentials to get through a day or two.

Posted by
13542 posts

The one domestic carrier i flew this year (United) ended up with me on the phone for no less than 5 hours, so I get it. It is obscene.

Posted by
5573 posts

Travelmom hit the nail on the head above.

You experienced a schedule change. That's not necessarily a bad thing, in fact that can often result in a much better flight, though it may require more than a little of your time to resolve in your favor. You do NOT need to accept the new flights/routing that they (actually their computer) picked for you. If the connection(s) look too tight for your comfort, that's your call. Definitely do as Travelmom suggested: find a better set of flights that ARE acceptable to you, note ALL the details of your preferred routing, call them back, explain that the offered flights won't work for you, and ask for the better flights you found. They can (and will) put you on other flights (within limits -- they probably won't upgrade you to first class). You might even get a better routing -- if you find one and ask for it (I have gone from an inconvenient two-stop to a much, much better nonstop thanks to a schedule change and a little effort).

They need to get you from your origin to your destination, departing on the same day as your original booking. Your routing can go through different connecting cities, can have fewer (or more) connections, can get you to your destination earlier or later than your original flight. Class of service must be the same or higher. Could be on their own metal or a partner airline (there are other limits when mixing in partner airlines). It does NOT matter how much you paid for your ticket or how much your preferred alternative would cost if purchased today (assuming the same class, unless THEY offer the rare upgrade, which you should not expect).

It's their obligation to get you there on a routing that's acceptable to you, and in fact they should be (and usually are) happy to accommodate your requests, as long as they fit within the (surprisingly liberal) rules for that. Otherwise they have to refund your money, potentially losing you as a customer, and they don't want that. If you hit a wall with a clueless or unhelpful agent, politely ask to speak with a supervisor.

I always view a schedule change as an opportunity to get a better (sometimes much better) flight than I had booked, and have had plenty of success doing that. You just gotta do the work for them, finding a better option, and spoonfeeding the details. Nowadays, there's the added inconvenience of stunningly long hold times, but that's life now. (I have experienced hold times of many hours too - if I hear the American Airlines hold music again I might go postal...).

Good luck, hope this helps.

Posted by
1739 posts

Hi David,

Such good advice. I found plenty of alternative flights in the same class that I booked (premium) and when I offered those to the second agent’s answer was that we would have to pay the difference in the fare which was $1,100 higher. And she kept me putting on hold saying she had to talk to her supervisor. I was so frustrated at the end of the second call that I just said whatever at that point as it was getting late in the evening. I am still a bit jet-lagged and tired from returning from Costa Rica on Tuesday and dealing with a husband with covid. And I just read on this forum that Saturday airlines change their schedules? The flight from Rome to Palermo is on Alitalia or whatever they call themselves now so it is a partner airline. There are several later flights that they could put us on and probably will have to as we are unlikely to make that flight. Why not save us all the hassle now and make the change? And I am unfailingly polite and don’t lose my cool as I know people on the other end will stop listening if you are nasty and you will get nowhere.

Posted by
3024 posts

Sorry to hear of your frustrating experience. In the past, the advice for agent #2 would be HUCA — hang up call again. Unfortunately, the crazy wait times take HUCA away as an option.

I haven’t flown as much as James E, but I had two transatlantic round trips without any significant changes on Delta in 2021. I have one in April and one in May — no significant changes yet. Many people have had changes on Delta, I realize, but I have been safe thus far.

Posted by
1739 posts

Thanks, Dave. We flew United to Costa Rica and there were absolutely no changes or issues other than really long layovers coming and going Another possible issue is that we are transiting through LHR or is it? Are there covid testing rules in place that would affect us?

Posted by
53 posts

i have flown overseas via Air Canada three times, each time saying it would be last. I have flown KLM and British Airways the last six or seven times I have flown to Europe without a problem. My concensus- North American Airlines suck.

Posted by
1739 posts

Right now I agree with you Les. Two plus years ago when we were upgraded to business on United I would have disagreed.

Posted by
5573 posts

If you are asking for something reasonable (and of course it helps to know what that is...), if the agent is not giving an inch, then ask for a supervisor, insist on it if necessary. Yes, there's a chance you get disconnected and you start all over again, but I am stubborn enough to do that if necessary. (A glass of wine and other work to do on the computer while waiting to get through helps...my greatest pain is the hold music after a couple of hours...). Know your rights and don't give up.

HUCA. And HUCA again if necessary. At the start of the call, give them your callback number and ask them to be sure they call you right back if you get disconnected (happens too often when they offer to transfer you).

Always remember: airline call centers are (unfortunately) a commodity, and airlines invest the bare minimum to check that box. Many call center agents are shockingly clueless, uninterested, brand new, or some combination; most just want to finish dealing with you and move on. Do not necessarily believe what they tell you -- they absolutely do make up nonsense and tell you it's the rules -- happens all the time. IMHO it's a worthwhile goal to try to be better-informed than they are (I find that's not too hard). They also have a hard job, so of course keep your cool, be polite, reasonable and helpful, but don't let them stick you with something you don't want if you believe there's a better option that should be available to you.

Alitalia is gone. Now it's "ITA" but that's no excuse to drop the ball. That probably doesn't make it easier in your situation, but expect them to Do The Right Thing and don't be shy about letting them know that's what you expect. The bottom line is that YOU get to decide if their offered alternative is acceptable or not. Good luck!

Posted by
8618 posts

Our current scheduling shows us arriving in Rome at 8 am and departing from Palermo at 9:15 am.

You lost me .

What does your arrival time in Rome have to do with when you depart from Palermo, relative customs & immigration?

As for the DFW-RNO, that should be enough, but if you arrive DFW late and miss the RNO flight AA has to fix the problem. Are there other flights to RNO after what you are scheduled on to work as a solution if you miss the scheduled flight?

And, as you mentioned, things could change again before May.

Posted by
1739 posts

Sorry for the confusion, Joe. I am dealing with jetlag right now and a sick hubby so my brain may not be functioning well right now. Add in the stress of AA and rebooking. We arrive at FCO at 8:00 am and depart from FCO at 9:15 am going to Palermo. That is a 1 hour 15 minute window to get through immigration and get to our next flight to Palermo.

Posted by
515 posts

Mary…. I don’t believe Alitalia nor Italia Transpero Aero - which is the new airline that purchased Alitalia are partners with American Airlines.

Posted by
5573 posts

Our current scheduling shows us arriving in Rome at 8 am and departing
from Palermo at 9:15 am.

I'm guessing she mis-spoke and meant her onward connection departing TO Palermo.

Higher view stuff: It looks like outbound travel is between Reno (RNO) and Palermo (PMO). Return looks like Naples (NAP) to RNO.
Both Reno and Palermo/Naples are secondary (at best) markets, so options for flights in/out of them will be pretty limited (and because it must be on AA partner metal, so there's an even bigger limit) -- thus, the first/last legs on both ways will be the challenge here (it almost always is the trickiest part).

There are endless ways to get between major AA and partner hubs in US (DFW, and ultiple others) and in Italy (for AA, probably Rome FCO, Milan MXP, maybe Venice VCE). First look for the short-haul connecting flights on either end, with an eye towards the schedule allowing enough time for connections. Once you figure out your short-haul options, then look at the longhaul flights in between. It's like a puzzle, gotta find the pieces that fit together.

Then there's the whole phone call challenge, which is a different thing altogether...

Posted by
5573 posts

Mary…. I don’t believe Alitalia nor Italia Transpero Aero - which is the new airline that purchased Alitalia are partners with American Airlines.

Good point - and that appears to be correct (and critical). I just checked AA's partners. I see none flying routes within Italy. There's the rub.

Mary, was your route all on one single ticket? (presumably including the domestic Italian leg on Alitalia)? Or AA to Rome, then a separate Alitalia ticket to Palermo?

Posted by
1739 posts

David,

It is all on one ticket. The ticket is showing Alitalia as the airline from FCO to PMO.

Posted by
5573 posts

OK. But, it's worth knowing that going forward, at least from the perspective of American Airlines, ITA has joined "the other team".

ITA is a member of the rival "SkyTeam" alliance (Delta, Air France, KLM, and more...but NOT American Airlines). American Airlines is part of "OneWorld", a direct competitor to SkyTeam. What's odd is that Alitalia was also part of SkyTeam, and a longtime partner with Delta (AA's rival). So it seems odd (to me at least) that AA would sell you a ticket that included a leg on Alitalia (but stranger things have happened).

There are also lots of "one-off" partnerships between individual airline pairs, but I don't believe there is one between AA and ITA currently. There MAY have previously been one between AA and Alitalia -- which would explain both why AA sold you that ticket, and why now ITA might be somewhat more problematic (and also why call center agents might require an escalation to get you what you want).

Alitalia's disappearance, and replacement by ITA adds another (large) wrinkle). Add to that Alitalia's old reputation (not exactly the most consumer-friendly staff in the world) and you have a messy plate.

Posted by
515 posts

The airlines will go out of their alliance but it is on the buyer to be aware before you purchase the ticket. My best guess is this would not have been a problem if Alitalia was still flying.

Mary… was it AA that triggered your schedule change or was it the intra-Italy segment that triggered it? Or both?

Posted by
1739 posts

Chris,

It was AA. Strangely the newest ticket is still reading “Alitalia” for the leg from FCO to PMO.

Posted by
8618 posts

Curiosity got me and I looked at the AA site for RNO-PMO and see it has a 65 minute ( 715AM-820AM) transfer at FCO.
It labels the FCO-PMO leg as operated by ITA

FCO - PMO AZ 1777 319-Airbus A319
Operated by Italia Trasporto Aereo

Posted by
21064 posts

No one has mentioned this so far, but both of these tight transfers will require Mary to go through Immigration, right? Maybe it would help her to know what would be reasonable connection times going in both directions. I've so far managed to avoid tight connections, so I have no advice to offer here.

I will say that Immigration at Rome-Fiumicino (my final destination) was a piece of cake for me in 2015. I'm not sure the agent even looked at me before he stamped my passport. The date of birth in 1951 may have had something to do with that, I guess.

Posted by
1739 posts

Yes, getting through immigration at FCO and DFW are my concern. I am sure with covid restrictions there will be another step at immigration. I plan on calling AA again first thing Monday morning.

Posted by
1739 posts

Thanks, Aimee. Good to know. We will have checked bags. I can’t remember if we have to retrieve our bags in Rome and recheck them or if they are checked through to Palermo. Anyway I will try to get the airline to give us more of a cushion between the flight arriving in Rome and the one departing for Palermo.

Posted by
8618 posts

FCO 08:20
PMO 09:25
Direct | 01H:05' Operated by: Italia Trasporto Aereo SpA

FCO 09:15
PMO 10:25
Direct | 01H:10' Operated by: Italia Trasporto Aereo SpA

FCO 11:45
PMO 12:55
Direct | 01H:10' Operated by: Italia Trasporto Aereo SpA

FCO 13:15
PMO 14:25

Above from the ITA site.

Looks like if you were to miss the 820 flight, there are ample choices for them to put you on with minimal delay

Ideally being scheduled for the 915 flight would make for a lot less drama

Posted by
515 posts

Mary…. You most likely need to retrieve your bags at FCO and check them back in with ITA….I don’t think there is through- checking between One World and Sky Team.:(

Posted by
1804 posts

I will say again, most likely your time in DFW will be sufficient, but maybe tight. If you don’t have global entry, then download Mobile Passport and use it.

My latest change is a delay on Royal Jordanian, Amman to ORD. That will make me miss my ORD-DFW American leg. And I can’t change my ORD-DFW leg online myself. No idea why. So I will have to call. But I will say I love not having to be on hold. They have been just about 100% on calling me back when they say they will. And David is right about using it to your advantage. Finnish Air, an AA partner, recently canceled a leg and I used that to get better flights and add a day and for the same cheap amount I paid even though those flights were currently several hundred higher.

So I know what James is saying about U.S. airlines but my two trip-changing flight changes were with non-U.S. airlines. Turkish Air is certainly worth checking now that they fly out of DFW, but it won’t always work for everyone and everywhere.

I am afraid for the moment this is where we are - just like filling out entry forms and making sure we have our CDC cards and masks and know that we can’t use water fountains in airports. I know you are tired, Mary, but it will get better. :) Take a day or two to catch your breathe before you try again. :)

Edit: there is no extra step at DFW for immigration. Just the normal.

Posted by
1739 posts

Thanks everyone for your kindness and advice. I am going to call AA again on Monday. I’ll let you know how it goes.