Either American Airlines Lost My Reservation…Or I’m Losing My Mind

When I was in my early twenties, my boyfriend at the time bought me this amazing hat. It had been handmade by a local artist, and it was unique. You really had to see it to believe it: squares of luxurious, textured fabrics patchworked together on the outside, with a black velvet lining. It was also big enough to contain my hair. I wore the hat constantly, and it pretty much defined a certain time in my life; most photos from that era are likely to feature me wearing it. Then I moved to New York, where the hat didn’t quite fit into the new sleek/chic look I was trying to cultivate. It sat on my shelf for awhile, and eventually it got lost in a big move.

By this point I was in my late twenties, and I decided to apply for Journalism school. I studied hard for the GRE, and when my scores came back, I was thrilled to see that they were fantastic. However, there were another set of scores included on the document, and those scores were fairly awful. The date listed for the awful scores was a full three years prior to my current scores, so I knew it was a simple mistake. I called the testing center to straighten it out, but I was surprised when they claimed that the scores were mine. They refused to remove them from my record, claiming that they had proof that it was I who had taken the test and legitimately earned the scores. We went back and forth for awhile, until finally they offered to send me a photo of “myself” (the person who took the test), taken at the test site. Relieved, I agreed that this would quickly solve the problem.

I got an envelope in the mail a couple of days later, and I ripped it open triumphantly. “Ha!” I said to Josh. “I can’t wait to see who this person is.” I quickly unfolded the letter inside. Beaming back at me was a photo of myself. In the amazing hat.

I had taken the GRE and completely blocked it out of my memory.

Wouldn’t you remember something like that? People who know me think that this is an especially incredible story because I have a spookily good memory. But it happened.

Fast forward to now. My family is looking forward to a big award redemption next month – we’re headed to Hawaii for nine days. We’re super excited. I’ve been planning this trip for over a year, and I booked our flights months ago, at the end of September. Since I work in education, plus I’ve got two elementary school age kids, September/October are always a very busy time for me. Normally, because I am an organizational nerd (and proud of it!), I start a travel binder for each big trip we take (hard copies of tickets, reservations, confirmations, etc.). However, I skipped that step at the time because I was just too dang busy. I figured I would get around to it when we got closer to the trip.

Last night, I decided that it was time to pull my act together and make a Hawaii binder. For me, this is really the best way to keep organized and see everything in one place. Also, a binder is a great reference tool in case friends have questions or want to get inspiration for similar trips. (My Disneyland binder is legendary. Yes, I know I am a supernerd. I’m cool with that). Everything was going fine until I went to print out a copy of our arrival flight info. We were booked from San Francisco to Honolulu to Kauai…or so I thought.

While my handwritten notes had flight times and flight numbers, the only info I could find online was for the first flight, from San Francisco to Honolulu. Nothing connecting from Honolulu to Kauai. I tried everything I could think of to locate a record of the connecting flight. Since we had used American miles to book travel on Hawaiian Airlines, I called American, then I called Hawaiian. I called the Aadvantage help desk. I called the Executive Platinum number (even though I am not an EP member, shh!). Nothing, nothing, and nothing.

The closest I got was that American said they had sent me an email on September 29, 2012 confirming the award travel. However, I had no record of that email. It wasn’t anywhere on my computer. And I couldn’t prove that I had ever been ticketed on that flight because I hadn’t ever printed out a hard copy of my itinerary. American couldn’t provide me with a record of what the email said, simply that they had sent it. SIGH.

I did have one clue, which was that on April 16, I had been notified of a flight time change: the first flight had been shifted to a slightly later time. I have a suspicion that this time change, coupled with the systemwide computer glitch that American experienced that same day, made my reservation vanish into the ether. Poof! It was just gone. So I was left with a frustrating choice: continue to try to prove my reservation actually existed although I had no record of it myself, or just give in and book a connecting flight.

I booked the flight. I decided that it wasn’t worth the stress. I rationalized it to myself with the fact that since this trip was booked entirely with points, spending $400 on an island hopper flight was okay. (And such a “first world” problem.)

Lessons and morals of the story abound here. Choose your fave:

  1. If you want something done right, do it yourself (or, don’t trust technology).
  2. Don’t cry over spilt milk.
  3. Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.
  4. Haste makes waste.
  5. Life’s too short to drink bad wine.
  6. Organization = happiness.
  7. All of the above.

I’m going with 7. And I’m trying to just let it go. Life is too short.

But it does make me wonder: was it me? Or was it them? I’ll probably never know. And maybe it’s better that way.



  1. Rebecca says

    How bizarre!! Did you forward the itinerary to anyone? Did you check your sent folder? What a bummer but thankfully you discovered it now vs closer to departure!! I like #6 and #1

    • Rebecca says

      another thought – sent to husband or kids email accts?

      • Points Pixie says

        Rebecca – I love how you are trying to help me figure this out! I didn’t forward the itinerary to anyone because it was so far in the future. Did check sent mail, Josh and kids’ accounts but no dice. A mystery. Or maybe it was me.

  2. Yes, life happens and if you’re going to be a travelista, you have to swim with the prevailing tides.

    We not only have folders for each trip but we bought a box of colored ones and pick the color that most represents the trip to us. (Ocean blue for Hawaii, of course.) We always have at least three going at one time. Also, if I see something in a magazine about a particularly interesting experience at that destination I will rip it out and toss it in the folder.

  3. Pinkisnice says

    I think it’s fair to believe that the AA system that recently had to ground their flights may have other pockets of imperfection. Though after a GRE story like that, I can see how you would doubt yourself. Sometimes my brain is so full and my memory so bad, that I’ve forgotten total vacations that I went on! Yeah, they may have been spontaneous weekenders, but still. Thanks goodness for photos (even if they prove us wrong)!

  4. EmilyJane says

    I loved this post. Sometimes we just have to let things go and default to crediting our own memory. And if somebody has pictures, well, maybe we’ll find out we were wrong; fortunately they usually don’t. It’s a tough balance for a points pixie but makes you all the better role model. 🙂

  5. Points Pixie says

    Anne – I’m going to steal your idea! Maybe I’ll combine it with my binder system and do colored binders…hmmm.

    Pinkisnice – I think the universe is telling me to sloowwww down.

    EmilyJane – Thank you! What a nice compliment. So glad you enjoyed the post.

  6. Luv2Travel says

    So this might be easier for me since I don’t have to share my computer, but I leave the page up and open in my browser with the confirmation in it until I have gotten an email saying the same. I miss a lot as well, too, though!


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