American Airlines Automated Rebooking Tool May Give Away Your Seat
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Airline technology upgrades are designed for more efficient operations—but oftentimes, it’s at the expense of its passengers. Imagine running through the airport to make a last-minute connecting flight only to arrive at the gate and be told that your seat has already been rebooked and given to another passenger. It’s a scenario American Airlines travelers are beginning to report after experiencing this huge inconvenience due to a booking system upgrade.
Between the practice of overbooking flights, upgrade requests, and standby travelers, seats on an airplane are in high demand. Since airlines want to maximize profits on flights, new technology is making efforts to fill up as many seats as possible.
American Airlines recently implemented its AURA system, or Automated Re-Accommodation tool, across its network in June 2023. It works by using predictive algorithms to rebook seats for other passengers due to cancellations or delayed connections. If it ‘suspects’ a traveler won’t be able to make a flight, it will automatically rebook it.
However, no technology is perfect. Although it’s intended to make flying more efficient, several flaws in the predictive models are now causing passengers to miss out on flights they actually show up for.
Here are scenarios exposing flaws in the system:
- Rebooking passengers arriving late on a connecting flight but the connection is also delayed, giving the original passenger time to make it to the gate
- Running through the airport to arrive in a short layover window
Rebooking your seat to another passenger is great for American Airlines, but what happens when the traveler actually shows up?
What to do if you’re rebooked?
If you lost your seat due to the AURA system, there are a few solutions, although admittedly, all inconvenient for the passenger. Here’s what can happen:
Speak with your gate agent to see if there is another empty seat available to be rebooked on the current flight (submit a request for compensation if the available seat is a downgrade from your original ticket)
You may be rebooked for a different flight and should request compensation for a longer wait at the airport—or an overnight stay in a hotel.
How to avoid losing your seat
With the AURA system fully rolled out, we can expect to hear many more reports from passengers who were unfortunately rebooked. Being proactive when booking, however, can help minimize your risk of losing your seat:
- Pay attention to layover duration to allow time to arrive at your connecting flight (some connections may be in different terminals)
- Find direct flights to your destination
- Check in on time and arrive at the airport early
However, many scenarios are out of control for travelers, such as delayed flights.
Travelers won’t know their seat has been rebooked for another passenger until arriving at the gate. If your flight gets delayed for a connection, still make an effort to make it to the gate to make your flight. It’s a major inconvenience for travelers due to operation issues out of their control, and they deserve compensation.
Let us know in the comments your thoughts about the new AURA rebooking tool.