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Grounded by American Airlines' computer glitch? Help is at hand

April 16, 2013|By Catharine M. Hamm
  • American Airlines' computer problem grounded thousands of passengers Tuesday. The airline says it is fixed. Passengers, however, will need strategies for rebooking.
American Airlines' computer problem grounded thousands of passengers… ( Scott Olson/Getty Images )

American Airlines says the computer systems that caused the airline to ground most flights Tuesday (today) have been restored but that travelers should expect delays through the day.

Joe Brancatelli, who writes the JoeSentMe travel newsletter and is a longtime industry observer, said in an email to members: “Don't go to the airport hoping things will be straightened out by the time you get there. They won't.”

What's a traveler to do?

Brian Kelly, who runs the website and is a frequent traveler himself, offers these suggestions:

--Act first, worry about a refund later. If your schedule is such that getting there is critical, make other arrangements.  You can duke it out with American later.

In a tweet earlier today, American said it would waive its change fee.

--If you can’t get through on American’s reservations number — (800) 433-7300 — try calling one of its international lines. Try to use Skype so you don’t run up a big phone bill, Kelly said. You can find a list of those numbers here.

--You can try to get help at the airport lounge. Not a member of American’s Admirals Club? You can buy a day pass online or at the club for $50. At LAX, AA’s website says, you’ll find a lounge at Terminal 4, on the Concourse level across from Gate 40.

“They have some of their most senior customer service reps working the club,” Kelly said. Experience counts, especially if you’re wanting to take an unusual route to your destination.

And if you don’t want to spend $50 or more for a day pass? Kelly says he’s not above waiting outside a lounge and asking to accompany a member in or using social media to see if a member will help him.

“You gotta be scrappy,” he said. “I’m not a fan of wasting time.”

--Tweet @americanair for help. “American has really ramped up their social team,” said Kelly, who has tweeted from midair and found his problem fixed. “American is very savvy with social media,” he said, although noting that wait times today may not reflect the average day.

--If you’re stuck on hold, you can try an app that gets you a call back instead of endless time on hold. Or, Kelly said, can tell you how to get a call back from American so you don't spend time on hold.

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