Air travel has become more and more difficultno matter who you fly with. I’ve had minor issues with American Airlines for years, but unfortunately, I sometimes have no choice but to fly out of my home area unless I use American. It depends on where I’m going and when I have to be there.
The minor issues have been escalating lately to a point where, as a travel writer and someone that travels regularly, if American Airlinesis my only choice – I just won’t go. That’s a huge decision for someone who makes their living traveling and flying from one place to another.
I’ve decided I will no longer subject myself to the horrible customer service and treatment received from a business that I usually have to pay close to $500 to travel with.
Just this month I’ve had to use American Airlines twice. Just this month I’ve had issues with American Airlines twice. Twice in one month. Twice being treated rudely and not getting what I paid for. Twice in two weeks.
My first trip this month was to Los Angeles. The issues during this trip were somewhat minor. I was scheduled to leave my home airport at around 5 a.m. so I got up at 3:30 a.m. to head to the airport. Before getting ready I checked my messages and after midnight I had received a message that my flight was canceled. CANCELLED. Not delayed. CANCELLED. No explanation. Nothing.
I got on the phone to rebook myself on the next flight out – no room. On the flight after that – no room. I was finally able to fly out and arrive in Los Angeles close to 9 hours later than my original plan. I missed a full day of the event I was going to.
One minor glitch. When I paid for my original flight I also paid for a boarding upgrade. Minimal cost but it’s the way I like to do things. When they finally rebooked me they didn’t carry over the paid upgrade. It has taken me 15 days, multiple phone calls and multiple direct messages on Twitter to get a refund.
My red-eye flight to return home from LA was delayed (of course) due to “our flight crew hasn’t made it here from the hotel.” So – hundreds of passengers can make it through LA traffic to be on time but the flight crew can’t get from the hotel ON AIRPORT PROPERTY on time.
Fast forward to November 15th. I booked this trip to a conference in New Jersey months ago. As I always do, I added on priority boarding and upgraded seating ($76.50). Combined with my original ticket purchase, the trip cost me just a few dollar shy of $500.
Amazingly, the trip from South Carolina to New Jersey went well. The major issues started when I tried to return home on November 17th. I say “tried” because I never made it home on Sunday, November 17th. I could have driven home from New Jersey faster than American Airlines flew me there.
On Sunday, November 17, I dealt with 15 different American Airlines agents. 2 were polite and tried to be helpful. 13 were nasty and rude. 2 of them actually hung up on me. Is this how American Airlines trains their employees to treat paying customers?
Just a couple of hours before I was due to leave Newark for my connection to Charlotte, my flight was delayed. The delay had me missing my connection from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach.
This was my first experience with the gate agents in Newark. They refused to help me rebook a later flight from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach. I was told – “not our problem – go back out to the front ticket counter and get them to help you.” Going back out to the front ticket counter meant having to wait in line and go back through TSA security afterwards.
The agent at the ticket counter booked me on a later flight out of Charlotte to Myrtle Beach. What she failed to tell me was that she booked me as a standby customer on an already oversold flight. If she had been honest, I could have spent my time at the airport looking for an alternative way to get home hopefully on a much more efficient and less inept airline.
I then had to stand in the TSA line for a second time because of the gate agents refusing to help me.
When the flight from Newark to Charlotte was finally boarding as I reached the ramp, the very rude gate agents demanded I turn over my carry-on to be checked to Myrtle Beach. As I went to answer that I needed my medication, the gate agent began screaming at me, as if I were causing a problem and demanded my bag. Since I was already embarrassed by her behavior and the way she made it appear as if I were causing a problem, I gave her the bag. They would not allow me to take anything out of it that I might need. She tagged it and as I walked away she began laughing with her colleague about getting her way.
Once I arrived in Charlotte I found out the flight I was scheduled on to Myrtle Beach had me listed as standby. The gate agent said I was the first standby name and she was 95% sure I would get on the last flight that evening to Myrtle Beach. Based on this information I decided to wait the few hours until that last flight.
It wasn’t boarding until 10 p.m. and that was when I found out the flight was oversold. They were looking for people to take a payment to not fly. There was no way any standby passenger was getting on the last flight of the evening to Myrtle Beach. If they had been honest about this fact several hours earlier, I could have rented a car and driven home from Charlotte in 3.5 hours.
What made it even more unacceptable, I sat and watched them pay 5 people not to take the flight – this was one more than they needed but did they give a standby passenger who paid for a ticket the seat? – NO. They gave the one seat they were able to use to a free employee flight rather than a standby. A person who paid to get where they needed to go. When I asked the gate agent why they would do that when I paid for a seat I once again heard – “not our problem.” and she walked away and closed the door in my face.
There I was at 10:30 at night with no way to get to Myrtle Beach, no bag, no food since the airport shops were closed. I asked for compensation for a hotel and was told “we don’t compensate for weather issues.” American Airlines uses weather as an excuse for all of their inept scheduling and delays. Interesting is the fact that the fake weather issues evidently only affect American Airlines since all other airlines were flying.
The airline offered to fly me to a totally different area of South Carolina stating “but then you’re on your own!” Why would I want to go to a totally different area of South Carolina with no means to get to Myrtle Beach from there? Two hours drive away from the airport that my car was parked at with no means to get to Myrtle Beach.
I was forced to find a hotel at 11 p.m. at night, shuttle to a hotel and pay for a room for 5 hours since at 64 years old I am not sitting in an airport all night. I had no bag which contained my medication because of rude agents in Newark. My bag was in Myrtle Beach spinning along by itself on the luggage bag claim!
I was then scheduled on the first morning flight from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach. The FIRST flight. Did it leave on time – of course not!
To recap –
I paid close to $500 (ticket plus seating and boarding upgrades) for a ticket that did not get me where I needed to be when I needed to be there.
My bag, containing my medication, was taken from me without giving me the opportunity to get my necessary items from it.
I was treated rudely by multiple representatives of American Airlines.
Forced to go through TSA in Newark Airport twice because rude gate agents wouldn’t help.
When I tried to ask a question, agents immediately cut me off and raised their voice to make it appear as if I was creating a problem. I was screamed at, embarrassed and humiliated while boarding the plane in Newark.
I was forced to pay for a hotel and food.
I was forced to pay an extra day parking at my home airport.
A paying customer forced to pay for a hotel so they could give the one seat available FREE to an employee.
Arrived home a full day later than expected. I didn’t pay to get home on 11/18. I paid to get home on 11/17 – BECAUSE I NEEDED TO BE HOME ON 11/17.
An apology by the 2 decent representatives doesn’t make up for how I was treated. I do not accept the weather excuse that the airline seems to rely on so they don’t have to take care of paying customers.
I did not get what I paid the airline for. I was forced to spend several hundred dollars above my already high ticket cost in order to get home. I was left with no medication overnight. I have never in my life been treated so rudely and so poorly by any group of individuals. The fact that most of the employees treat paying passengers this way is unforgivable. We have all seen on the news the reasons why passengers have to stay quiet – if they don’t they are made out to be problem causing and escorted from the plane, the area, or worse.
Needless to say I have contacted American Airlines many times since November 17 via Twitter as well as direct emails to the CEO, the Senior VP of Customer Relations, the President of the company and the Director of Customer Experience. Not one of the executives has had the decency to respond.
I have received multiple replies via Twitter Direct Message, all saying the same things:
So – which is it – Air traffic or weather?
I received a response to my email to the company executives from a Customer Service agent. As you can see, they once again don’t know if it was due to weather or air traffic. I also did not send an email to Customer Service. I sent emails to company executives who think it’s o.k. to have a Customer Service representarive respond. Also, shortly before receiving this email, I did receive a phone call from American Airlines. However, when I answered the phone, the person on the other end hung up:
According to this letter, I should be happy with the fact that they will use the horrible treatment I received as a training exercise. I should also accept their contracted $50 rate for my hotel stay.
Since this reply, I have heard nothing. Because of the treatment I received, I’m not willing to let it go. I emailed the executives a second time.
I have received no reply from any of the executives emailed. I have received no further replies from Customer Service. I assume they think if they ignore me I will go away.
I have no idea where this will go. I’m sure, due to American Airlines’ poor customer service track record, it will be an endless battle. I do know I will never fly American Airlines again and I will caution everyone that will listen not to fly American Airlines.
NOTE: I received a refund for my boarding upgrade from 11/4/19 during my fight for the 11/17/19 mess. I only received the refund because American Airlines wanted to put out publicly on Twitter on 11/17 that they issued me a refund. Their social media people wanted the public to think they were compensating me for the mess that was going on during the day of 11/17, when in reality they refunded my upgrade fee from 11/4/19 that I had been asking about for 2 weeks. As if I weren’t going to publicly let everyone know what they were doing!
The CEO of the airline, Doug Parker, was compensated over 12 million dollars in 2017 and over 19 million dollars in 2018. The President of the airline, Robert Isom, close to 7 million dollars. This same airline charged this passenger close to $500 for a ticket plus cost this passenger close to $400 extra due to inept service and offers a “contracted rate” and an apology as compensation. Oh I forgot! They’ll use my experience as a training session! REALLY!
UPDATE: RECEIVED AN EMAIL ON NOVEMBER 25, 2019 WITH THE NAME AND DIRECT PHONE NUMBER OF A PERSON AT AMERICAN AIRLINES WHO WILL SPEAK TO ME REGARDING MY TREATMENT – I’VE CALLED THE NUMBER/EXTENSION THREE TIMES AND LEFT A VOICE MAIL MESSAGE FOR THIS PERSON – NO CALL BACK! SURPRISE!
ALSO – Travel & Leisure published a report that American Airlines bumped more passengers in 2019 than all other U.S. airlines combined, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The carrier bumped more than 3,400 passengers in the travel period from July through August. In a two month period!