The fact that American Airlines and Alcoholics Anonymous both use the same nickname does not seem coincidental. OK – perhaps that statement is slightly exaggerated and not politically correct, but I would like to see how PC others would be in my situation. For those of you who know the power of my poison pen, I promised a scathing tongue lashing the last time I tangled with this company, and it is long overdue. I am going to write a list of grievances in the order they disrupted my life. All of these problems have taken place since October 2010 until now, December 2011. Please respond with your opinion on the situation.
I was flying AA from Costa Rica to Miami and we sat in the plane on the runway for an hour before someone explained that the plane might have a hole in it. It was probably around 100 degrees inside. When the plane inexplicably took off, a passenger inquired about the hole and we were told, “It was really more of a dent.” We arrive without incident except that the pilot landed so fast my eardrums hurt terribly.
Two hours later that day I was on another AA flight from Miami to Boston. I had a window seat and was wedged up against the glass by an extremely large man who did not fit in his seat. Matters were made worse by his balancing buffalo chicken wings on his thighs.
We were one hour over the water when the plane lurched, the lights went out, and we heard a “Boom!” I felt the oxygen leave the plane, it got very cold, and our masks came down. (Note: The masks do work and the bag does not inflate all the way.) We all sat quietly. Actually some people were screaming and throwing up, but my already hurt eardrums were now completely not working. Sitting there in the dark everything sounded like it was underwater. The man next to me gave out pieces of gum and started reading the Bible. I wondered if he would make a good cushion if we landed on land. I knew he would not be a good floatation device. (Not PC again, but remember I was pretty sure we were all dying. I made a mental peace with my husband and young children.) We were told that no one knew what was wrong, but we needed to go back to Miami to land. We got to a lower altitude so that we could breathe and take off the masks. My ear pain was acute, but it was a blessing to be surrounded in quiet. The temperature went up to about 85 degrees and we all had about 45 minutes to ponder what was wrong with the plane and if it included landing gear.
We landed safely and were told to exit through the back instead of the front due to not lining up properly with the gate. (I learned later that the reason we left that way was that the “problem” with the plane was a large piece of the roof opened up like a tin can, giving a sun roof effect. In the terminal a manager yelled at us to: “hurry up to get across the airport… if we lost our boarding pass he would not let us on the plane…no seat changes…we are very lucky there happens to be another plane available.” I should have arrived in Boston at midnight and now I arrived at 4 AM. We were never given water service on either plane.
Then the nightmare really got going. I wrote three letters of complaint because I still could not hear. (The effects lasted for two months.) One email response said they were looking into the situation.
There was no one to speak to on the phone. When I asked why this was a reservations agent answered, “Due to budget cuts, we don’t have a complaints department. Write another email.”
I continued however to get marketing materials and promotions for AA through the mail and email. Apparently the Marketing Department is more important than Complaints.
Fed up with the lack of response I went on TV to complain. That interview prompted a phone call apology within an hour of broadcasting. The woman on the phone gave me a $500 voucher for future flights. I asked if everyone on that flight would be getting a voucher but her response was, “No, we wouldn’t know how to find everyone.”
Time went by…I continued to fly other airlines at about 5 flights a month…things were good.
Then I decided to use my voucher. I booked a flight on AA but could not figure out the website so I called an agent to make the reservation. It cost me $25 dollars extra (on my credit card) to talk to a person.
I said that my voucher still had $250 and is about to expire. “Should I book other flights today so I use it up?” No. The agent said a new voucher would be issued with the balance and mailed in 7 to 10 business days. It would be good for a year.
No voucher…I continued living my life and tried to use the old voucher past expiration date. I bounced around to 4 people and finally told it would be fine to use. They booked (charging $25 to my credit card). The following day I got a surly voice mail from AA saying that my voucher expired and my reservation is revoked. I needed to call them back and either pay with my credit card or lose the flight.
That day resulted in a four-hour battle with several departments at AA, resulting in a voucher re-issue processed in 7 to 10 business days. I ranted in Facebook “Whydoes American Airlines hates me so much?” A dozen friends from all over the country wrote in and agreed they are awful.
Today I flew AA (flight number one on my voucher) for a business trip leg. I needed to fly from Dallas to Los Angeles departing at 8:45 AM, with a one hour layover and connection in LAX for Santa Barbara. The plane took off 30 minutes late. In the air the plane felt unsteady. After about 40 minutes, the pilot announced engine trouble and that we needed to emergency land in Lubbock, TX. We have been sitting here ever since (9 hours later). My connection is long gone and the other one I booked might not work either. The one attendant helping us doesn’t know anything more than I do.
Were you surprised American Airlines declared bankruptcy this week? Not me… Where’s the bar?