Friday, June 8, 2007

American Airlines Sucks

June 8, 2007

NOTE: This is not a "happy" post. This post is a means by which I can vent/rant about the horrible service I received from American Airlines today.

I was supposed to leave today on a 6:05 pm flight to Chicago. Without notifying me, American Airlines (hereinafter "AA") decided to simply CANCEL the flight. Did they bother to call or email me to notify me of the change? No. I only found out because Adam happened to check the status of my flight before he headed off to the airport at 4 pm-- also on his way to Chicago on AA. A bit frustrated with the sudden dent in my weekend plans, I called AA's 1-800 number.

After waiting 12 minutes, and dealing with that stupid automated service that never understands what your response to its question is, I finally reach an alleged customer service representative. I say "alleged" because I received absolutely no "service."

The man on the line was rude, slow, and a bit dumb. After I explained my predicament, he told me that there were no other flights on AA for tonight to Chicago and that the absolute earliest flight on Saturday was at 9:30 am. (I later learned this was a flat out lie.) I had him bump me to the 9:30 am flight after making it clear that I would take any other flight on any other airline as long as it got me to Chicago any earlier than the 9:30 am flight. He said there was nothing else. The only other flight available was a flight on Southwest, he said. I pause. Just a moment ago he told me my flight was canceled because of bad weather in Chicago. If the weather was so bad why was Southwest flying into the city, I asked? Predictably, he had no answer. He tells me I can switch to the Southwest flight but AA will not reimburse me for the difference in price. Of course, why would they.

I decide to drive to the airport to see if a face-to-face conversation will produce any better results. I was wrong. I waited in line for 2 hours at the airport. Although there were at least 75 people waiting to speak to someone, AA had only 4 people working! (75 people at any given time in the Columbus airport is a lot. This is not JFK people.) While standing in line I discover that there are in fact other flights leaving tonight on other airlines and AA was putting people on those flights. But when I finally reached the front of the line, the ticketing agent tells me all the other flights are now booked! Ugh! (This is when I discovered my not-so-helpful customer representative had lied.) I asked to be put on an earlier flight on Saturday, but of course, those were also full. I finally get placed on a stand-by list for an early morning Saturday flight (a change that could only be done by a "special representative" for whom I had to wait another forty-five minutes.)

So now I'm at home, upset that I'm not in Chicago, and waiting for my Saturday flight. I'm curious--Is the weather in Chicago really that bad tonight? Of course not. The forecast for Friday night: Clear, 0% chance of rain, low of 56 (doesn't seem like bad weather to me).

To add insult to injury, I decide to check the schedule for all flights departing today on AA from Columbus to Chicago. Surely enough, although my 6:05 pm flight was canceled, the 7:05 pm flight scheduled for today was not. In fact, that flight left at 7:17 pm and arrived on time in Chicago. And I thought ALL AA flights were cancelled (apparently the reference to "all" meant only the 6:05 pm flight).

I decide to write AA an angry email about the treatment I received only to discover that the text I can add to the "comments" box in their email program is limited by word count. They don't even allow you enough space to fully explain your problem. Of course.

This whole ordeal leads me to wonder: At what point did I no longer become AA's number one priority? After all, AA is a business and as a business they cater to me, the customer. AA can learn something from jetBlue. At least when jetBlue screws you, they're nice and reimburse you for it. But at a minimum, they're nice.