Man's dramatic Mexico trip to keep his American Airlines status - Josh Loe

Man’s dramatic Mexico trip to keep his American Airlines status

  • A viral twitter thread describing an astounding adventure one man endured to save paying American Airlines almost $2,000 to maintain his airline status may go down as the best travel story of the New Year. 
  • TV and digital producer, Andrew Kimmel, did a mileage run before New Year’s Eve to Los Cabos, Mexico for $400 return, rather than pay out $1,875 to maintain his Executive Platinum status with American Airlines. 
  • Insider spoke to Kimmel who said: “I was incredibly lucky, because it could’ve gone much further south.”
  • The 24-hour trip started off well, but Kimmel’s fortunes changed when he “hit some bars,” where he claimed he got scammed, had his passport confiscated and ended up in a jail cell. 
  • Hours later, another solo traveler named Megan, who also claimed she was scammed and jailed, posted his bail, and accompanied Kimmel to the airport while he figured out a way back to LA without a passport. 
  • American Airlines told Insider: “We subsequently communicated with Mr. Kimmel via direct message, and our airport team in Los Cabos took care of him, including working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”
  • Kimmel returned to LA in time for New Year’s Eve with 15 minutes to spare before midnight. He also confirmed to Insider he’s still in touch with Megan and is hoping she’ll come out to LA in January.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more details.

Missed flights, lost bags, diversions, delays, and disruptions — we’ve all had our fair share of nightmarish travel anecdotes which get traded over dinner parties once enough time has passed to make the horrors funny. 

But one tale could arguably top them all in the travel story hall of fame only a mere few days into the new decade. 

To stick it to American Airlines’ loyalty program, self-employed TV and digital producer Andrew Kimmel spent 24 hours before New Year’s Eve on a mileage run that got way out of hand. Speaking to Insider, Kimmel said: “I was incredibly lucky, because it could’ve gone much further south.”

In a bid to save forking out $1,875 to American Airlines to maintain Executive Platinum traveler status when he was just a couple of hundred dollars shy of qualifying, Kimmel booked a $400 round trip ticket to Los Cabos, Mexico. He told Insider that maintaining status is about comfort and convenience to him as he frequently flies internally, and having an upgraded seat that folds flat, or no flight-change fees for the same day, makes a huge difference in fitting around his work. 

Explaining the context of his blockbuster jaunt, the first tweet to Kimmel’s epic thread said: “Dear @AmericanAir, After arriving back to LA from Indonesia, I was $275 EQDs under (yet 25K miles over) from maintaining status. You asked me to pay $1875 (?!) to keep status, so instead I booked a $400 rt ticket to Mexico for 24 hrs. Here’s how my f—— night went…”

Managing to secure a cheap room and car rental for $35, Kimmel described having a nice dinner and meeting a family who surprised him by paying his bill. After what appeared to be quite a pleasant start to his impromptu night away, Kimmel said he then “hit some bars.”

It’s at this point in the story that things took a turn.

Kimmel tweeted: “At the last bar of the evening, I was presented with a bill for over $300. I had two beers. The bar manager said I needed to pay or he’d call the police. I give him my credit card and it was declined due to fraud protection, which I found out today as my phone had died earlier.”

He went on: “The bar manager was now threatening me. He grabbed me and brought me to an ATM outside. I refused to take out cash. So he called the police, of which I welcomed. Surely the Mexican police would understand the situation.”

Kimmel’s thread continued: “Of course the police were working with the bar manager w/ the tourist swindle, so the police handcuff me as the bar manager steals my debit card and passport. I’m put into a police car and sit up front with two officers. We actually got along quite well as I applauded their con.”

Now somewhere outside of Cabo, Kimmel was put in a jail cell and told he’d be released after half an hour. He said that he was also laughed at by the officers when he asked for his passport back. He was placed in a cell with a man from the UK who was arrested for fighting, but Kimmel told Insider the man was contemplating the more dangerous repercussions of his wife finding him locked up. 

Kimmel continued: “Three hours goes by. “Capitan? Capitan?” I shout through the bars. It’s now daytime and my cell mate tells me he’s gotta take a shit, but there’s no toilet paper. There is a blanket covering the window, so I suggest he take it off and use that. And he did.”

So what happened to the innocent blanket in all this after it was used? Kimmel said to Insider: “He just placed it over the toilet. It stayed there until I left.”

The story-thread continued: “Now cold and jetlagged from my previous day’s travel from Indonesia, I decide to rest my head on the metal tray bed. My cell mate’s wife found him and posted bail. “Ah f—, I should just stay in here” he tells me … genuinely worried about the upcoming encounter with his wife.”

The next chapter starts to unfurl when an almost-stranger bailed Kimmel out of jail.

He said: “I doze off. I’m awoken several hours later by an officer. ‘Your friend pay bail.’ What the f—? Im given my belongings and shoved outside where a woman from Kenya was waiting for me. ‘I heard what happened when you came in, so I figured you could use some help.'”

Finding out she was a solo traveler from Kenya named Megan who said she was scammed in Cabo and ended up jailed too, he said the pair start walking to nowhere. Spotting a guy in his car they, asked for directions to the marina and then made their way to the airport so Kimmel could catch his flight at 3.26pm. Unfortunately, Megan, the Kenyan guardian angel, had missed her morning flight but went along anyway. 

Only one problem – Kimmel’s passport was still in the possession of the authorities. 

He tweeted: “I have no f—— clue what I’m going to do. I call passport control in the States to report a stolen passport. They tell me to call the local embassy. I call and they’re closed. I ask my new friend to wait in the car at the airport as I run to the airline desk. It’s now 3:00 pm.”

The airline agent was able to help Kimmel by arranging for him to be on the last flight out that day, without a passport, and he was directed towards the immigration desk. 

His next frustrated tweet read: “I’m directed to the immigration desk as the airport and advised I need to purchase a new immigration form for $35. “All I have is my credit card,” I tell them. I’m then redirected to another desk that accepts credit card payments. “We’ll need your passport to process, sir.”


He continued: “I run back to my friend in the rental car, tell her I can make the last flight out, but I needed more money. At this point, I’m losing my shit over just about everything, and she grabs my hand, tells me it’ll be ok and then kisses me. I kiss back. What the f— is happening?”


Back at the airport, Kimmel’s new crush provided him with a back-up option if fate decided he’s staying in Mexico for the start of 2020.  He explained: “If you don’t make your flight, you can stay with me at my Airbnb,” my jail crush tells me. F—. What once was “get me out of Mexico” turned into, “well this could be interesting.” But of course I couldn’t. I came to Mexico for a goddamn mileage run & I’m getting that status.”

Kimmel flew back to LA and arrived just in time to usher in the New Year on the west coast.

He told Insider: “Because I was just doing a mileage run, I parked my car at LAX so I was able to get my car and drove back to my house by 11 pm, quickly shower, threw on a tuxedo and I made it to my party at 11.45 pm.”

American Airlines initially responded to Kimmel’s tweet after he tagged them, saying: “Reaching Executive Platinum status isn’t easy. For those who make it, the benefits are amazing! We’re happy you’ll make your goal!”

American Airlines then apologized for replying to the post after only reading the initial tweet, and for not speaking directly with him at the tome. The airline then took the chat with Kimmel to private DMs.

American Airlines told Insider: “We subsequently communicated with Mr. Kimmel via direct message, and our airport team in Los Cabos took care of him, including working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

Kimmel told Insider they “still presented me with a lame corporate response” via DM. 

He said said: “Obviously they started receiving a lot of backlash because of the tone-deaf response they had given – which in all fairness, I understand they didn’t read the whole thread, they just sent. I don’t know if it was just an AI responding immediately to anyone who mentions American Air.”

He continued: “What they had told me was, ‘We’re so sorry this happened to you, let us know if you need help with your trip, although it appears you’re on board now, our sincere apologies for sounding so cold, we’re getting so many mileage run tweets today and thought that one you sent first was it. We’re always here to help you out, however we can,'” an offer which Kimmel disputes.

In a cliffhanger ending, Kimmel said the bar charged his card for $500 and is disputing extortion claims on their Facebook page. 

As for Megan, Kimmel said to Insider: “Yes. I’m still in touch with Megan. However, things have been happening that I’m now starting to feel quite terrible about. I think people have been trying to find out who she is, she’s starting to receive emails, she is feeling overwhelmed and is now nervous, because she doesn’t want her family to find out.”

He went on to say some people have been posting negative comments about Megan and are speculating if she was in on the con from the start, which Kimmel said has been upsetting for her to read.

“She did say she is going to try to come to LA in January. As of right now, it’s to be continued. I really do want to see her again and I feel terrible, so I think I owe her more than just the bail, certainly dinner.”

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