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Why Are Airline Websites So Dumb?

As frequent flyers, most of us are well versed in dealing with incompetent phone agents. If things don’t go your way, just hang up and try again, or as I like to call it Wack-A-Agent. However what happens when you get an Airline website that is incompetent? Is there a way to hang up on a website?

Last Friday / Saturday, I was burning some British Airways Avios points for my parents as they want to go to New York City to visit my cousin. The current fares are $150ish. Typically I would just have them buy a revenue ticket, but with the British Airway Avios changes, a flight from Chicago to New York is only 15,000 miles. This obviously is much better than the previous 25,000 miles that were needed. Therefore I opted to use Avios miles instead.

I had set up a British Airways household account a few months ago, which allows all of my family members to pool our points together. Last Friday, after logging in, I went to go book the flight, and for some reason or the other, I got the following error message.

Invalid request error occurred.Since all they needed was the date of birth, I figured that I could just log into my mom’s account and provide it. So I logged in and went to the manage my details page, filled out all the info and still got the same error message!!!!

Invalid request error occurred.

I knew there wasn’t much left to do besides call British Airways, so at 8pm I dialed the number on their website for their US based call center and lo and behold, it was CLOSED! I understand that British Airways isn’t based in the United States, but I do not understand how an airline that operates 24 hours a day around the world, can have a call center that is closed. At a minimum they could route the calls to India so customers could at least have someone to talk to.

As I didn’t have any more options I went to bed and decided to try again in Saturday morning. After I woke up the next day, I logged into my British Airways account on accident only to find out some how they had screwed up my Date of Birth too. I was planning on just changing it online, however apparently that isn’t even any option.

Invalid request error occurred.

After clicking on “Why Can’t I Edit These Details”, I got this pop up.

Invalid request error occurred.

So reluctantly, I now had 2 issues I had to call British Airways about. Luckily (and to my surprise), their US call center was open on the weekend. After waiting a nice 10 minutes for an Agent, I explained the new problem I had with my birthday being wrong, and was told they there was nothing they could do.  I would have to send in a copy of my passport.

I wasn’t planning on taking any trips on British Airways in the future, so I moved on to my parents booking issue and was again told there wasn’t anything they could do on their end.

Eventually, after spending 1 hour on the phone, they said they could manually book it. When it came time for payment, what should have been $5 a person for tax, suddenly became $5 for tax + $25 a person for a phone booking fee. I tried to explain to the Agent that their website wasn’t working and therefore I couldn’t book it online, but the Agent didn’t seem to understand. Ultimately, I had to play Wack-A-Agent and try again.

This was just one of these times where it is a perfect storm of a poorly designed website and idiotic call center agents! Has this ever happened to you?

Which bring me to my next point…

While I was waiting on the phone for British Airways, I logged into Award Wallet. I’m a huge fan of their service, however American Airlines recently barred them from providing information from the AA site. Luckily, the people at Award Wallet are smart and somehow created a browser extension to sidestep this problem. All you have to do is download the plugin and re-enter all your AA info including your frequent flyer number.

I did not know my AA number off the top of my head, hence that is one of the many reasons I use Award Wallet!

So I went to AA.com to log in and get it, which led me to this problem.

You need to know your AAdvantage number to log in!

It amazes me that in 2012, American Airlines can still ask you to log into their website via the random combination of letter and numbers that is your AAdvantage number. Almost all other airlines let you log in with your email or username!

Invalid request error occurred.

Can you imagine logging into your online banking website and having to enter your entire numerical account number?

Get with the program American Airlines!

Invalid request error occurred.

After searching my inbox for my original sign up email from American, I found my AAdvantage number and was able to sign in!

Is there anything you can’t stand about your airline website of choice?


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One Comment

  1. […] I personally think this is ridiculous, not only because it is against the best interest of AA’s consumers, but also because AA doesn’t let you log-in with your Email Address or User Name as I have stated before. […]

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