I was taking a walk with our golden retriever Murphy and our 8-year-old grand-daughter Devon when the phone rang. It wasn't quite the pot of gold Devon had moments before promised we'd find somewhere on our walk. But it was someone from corporate American Airlines in Dallas with what seemed a heartfelt apology for our problems flying on vacation, which I had written about on these pages Tuesday.
With doggie bag in one hand and dog in the other, I'm afraid I forgot to ask Jeannie in Dallas how to spell her name (If it's with one n or a y, it's my turn to apologize). But she was awfully nice. Just what suggestions, she asked, might I have for American Airlines as it continued its big merger. This time I wasn't at a loss for words.
Just tell people the truth, I suggested. If you've given away too many miles over the years to make good on them, then tell people. Don't make believe people can get free flights to Europe when they can't. A little transparency, I might have added, can go a long way.
Without quite saying so, Jeannie suggested that the world of air travel gets complicated, because there are times of year when a few open seats do crop up on planes to Europe to be given away. I confess that I wasn't moved by her explanation.
But then came the bigger surprise: She acknowledged that American had more or less shortchanged us a modest 250 miles each in my negotiations to get a partial refund for Kathy and me after we were bounced out of first class from Dallas to San Francisco on our three-leg, AAdvantage, Boston-to-San Fran frequent-flier adventure.
What's more, Jeannie offered to give us each 1,500 miles for all the inconvenience. It's not that pot of gold, Devon, but I was tempted.
Still, it doesn't seem right. A lot of fliers have faced a lot worse inconvenience. And just because I wrote a blog for Huffington Post doesn't mean I should get any miles they don't.
And so, I think I've come up with the perfect solution. If any of you are 2,500 miles short of what you need for a flight, send me a note to my Emerson College email with how I can get in touch with you. (I'm going to let you do the work to look it up.) I promise to write back and then to contact Jeannie personally to ask that my 2,500 miles be transferred to your account.
(Remember, first come, only one served.)
I know. There's still the matter of the 500 miles I'm keeping. Well, I believe I earned those back.
As Jeannie more or less acknowledged, the huffy consumer services rep who negotiated my miles refund when I called in San Francisco shorted me just a bit. [Here's the math: 12,500 miles to upgrade to first class one way across the country divided by two since we only got halfway across before being bounced to economy equals 6,250 miles due back apiece. We got 6,000 each.)
I imagine you are wondering: After Jeannie's call, do I still have the heart to burn my beautiful million miles AAdvantage card. Or, more precisely, to cut it to shreds. Well, Jeannie was a pretty good marriage counselor. So I won't toss my American AAdvantage card just yet. But American and I do remain estranged: No longer am I going to waste time adding miles to my American CitiBank card. You see, ultimately I don't believe those miles are worth much.